Staying in the Race

I was looking through some old posts and thinking about where I am in the year. We are more than halfway through 2018. I’m starting to see posts about how many Mondays there are until Christmas. And, of course, the dreaded back to school shopping is looming. My kids go back in 2.5 weeks.

And yet, where am I? I signed on with Nanowrimo and wrote a novel in 30 days last November. I finished it on November 28. My mom died December 8. I put the book in a drawer with my husband’s notes. I pushed the laptop closed. And that was that.


But it’s time to stand back up. Get off the curb. Stop spectating. All of this reminded me of a post from 2.5 years ago that I’m copying below, in case it is of some use to anyone else.

I took me years to truly grasp how much I love a new year. It’s because I live in constant fear of my own mistakes and in constant regret when I make them. I am bad at letting things go. And the beautiful thing about a new year is that you get a free pass to crumple up that previous one with any exponential number of regrets and drop it in the nearest trash receptacle. And then you get to take out that fresh, white piece of paper and pretend that maybe this year…this will be different. I will be different. I will do that thing. I will make the change. I’m sorry this turned into Man in the Mirror. That was subconscious, I assure you.

Every New Year’s, I see the memes all over Facebook  that “Today is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Write a good one.” There is something to this. I usually buy in 100%. Especially on January 1. Because on January 1, I haven’t done a single thing poorly. Not one thing! I am 100% successful in a new year.

Currently, on July 25, that’s not my story. It’s been quite a year. I’m not unproud of it. I’m not ashamed or rueful or even indifferent. But I’ve become more a non-participant than I’d like to be. I am reminded of January 1, 2016 when, wanting to celebrate my 90 minutes of mistake-free New Year’s Triumph (it was 9:30 a.m.), I took my new fitness tracker and went out on a walk.  Shortly into this walk, I encountered a runner wearing a race bib. This person wasn’t exactly running. Nor were the stragglers behind him. It became clear to me within moments of my first racer sighting that this was the end of the race. The very end. These guys had been at it for awhile. They had been BEAT UP by this race. And as I climbed the only hill in my flat central FL tinytown, I saw the last place runner coming toward me. I know she was last place because she was being followed by a police car with his lights on. So either she was being arrested for running too slow, or he was the cop signaling the end of the race.

This woman was struggling. She was barely in it. I visually took her in, as much as I could, in the few moments we intersected. I somewhat unintentionally locked eyes with her briefly as she continued her woggle (jog + walk + wobble–I am familiar with the sport) down that hill, and she managed a weak, sheepish, almost apologetic smile at me. It was a smile that said she was embarrassed. She was sorry she wasn’t faster, thinner, nimbler, edgier. She seemed sorry it was her in front of that cop car. She seemed sorry I saw her. Sorry we made eye contact. She’d been caught in last place. But I wasn’t sorry at all. Because right then it hit me: A last place finish is still a finish. She was slow, sure. She was struggling, clearly. But she was IN THAT RACE. She had a bib on. She wore the sweat like a trophy. She had the cop car behind her. She was going to finish that race. And she did.

Me? I didn’t even know about the race until I turned off my street to take my January 1 Victory Walk. I wasn’t in the race at all. Last place was ahead of me. But it doesn’t have to be this way. There’s still half a year on my calendar and there’s still plenty of racing yet to do. So with school just around a dirty little corner and 21 Mondays until Christmas, I think I better grab a race bib and slip in just ahead of the cop car.

Peace, friends.

Throttled Seeds

I have not even logged on to a blog in more than 6 months. That makes me a fake writer, with unstable ambitions and fluid intentions.

I don’t think the dream is as fake as the life has been real. Oh, the stories I could tell. If no one I knew would ever read them. But only people I know read this, so I best just leave it alone.

Summer is more than half over and instead of whining about that, I’m embracing the back to school shopping and staying home as much as I possibly can in the next 3 weeks. They start school 3 weeks from tomorrow. The incoming freshman (aka Mama’s Boy) starts marching band camp on Monday. It will go 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. for 2 straight weeks. If he doesn’t die, or quit first, there will be a parent performance on August 4. He will have to love it to endure it. Time will tell. He’s never done anything from 9-7. Except breathe.

So since I can’t tell stories and since I didn’t drive through Louisiana this summer and since I haven’t written anything longer than a sentence in 6 months, I guess I’ll start with a dream I woke up from yesterday at 6:30 a.m. I had woken up at 5 and and was afraid I wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep. I did fall back into sleep, but I paid dearly for it. So did a few other people.

It all began on a hazy Tuesday morning on the front curb of Lewis Elementary. I leaned over to catch my breath, because I had run from the car. My partners were already in the office, securing the building. We had to get rid of the office personnel if we were going to take out the troublemakers. There was a PTA family that was ruining everything. They had to go. When I say they had to go, I mean they had to GO. Permanently. And I was written in as the contract killer. I thrust the glass door open wtih my right shoulder while digging into my jeans pocket for my weapon. 

There it was.

A white packet of throttled seeds, limp and sweaty because the pocket of my jeans is a bad place to be in July. I ripped the packet open from the top, grabbed the PTA mom, dad, and baby (Listen, I’m not proud of this. Just keeping it real here.), and poured the seeds into their mouths before dashing back out the door into the sultry quiet of a schoolyard in the summertime. 

They aspirated.

I went back about my regular day. 

I did nothing to conceal my tracks or go into hiding. I think I was under the impression that the two partners who had secured the building were going to turn themselves in and leave me out of it. 

Somewhere along the way, I stopped dead in my tracks and said to myself, “Oh, shoot. I killed three people with throttled seeds. I’m going to prison.” 

Seems like I should have thought, Oh, shoot. I killed three people and those three people are no longer alive and that’s evil.

Or maybe I could have thought, what the heck are throttled seeds?

But it’s a dream. And apparently the beginning of school is not stressing me out, so leave me alone.

The next thing I remember is the courtroom scene where I was being convicted and sentenced, all in one sitting. Very typical American trial. Principal Rabeiro was in attendance, shaking her head  a lot. She couldn’t believe things had come to this the very moment she was transferred to another school. I mean, you step away for one minute and the throttled seeds come out. 

I was panicked at this point. I had ended the lives of three people. Wiped out an entire famiy. I had ruined my own life. I was going to prison for a long time. 

After the trial ended and I was in the parking garage, about to drive myself home to pack my things for prison, my principal and friend drove up in her beat up  Ford Exporer with the busted out back window (not at all what she drives, by the way). I peeked into the back of her truck and said,

“Hey, look at that! You cleaned out your car. I can see the bottom of your trunk.”

“Yeah,” she replied. “Getting there. You know what I don’t have?” She paused. “My thin mints. You owe me 12 boxes.”

No, I was sure that wasn’t true. I had made that right. I had delivered all the girl scout cookies. I tried to tell her, but she couldn’t hear me. Why couldn’t she hear me? Why did I kill people with seeds?

“I know you’ve got a lot on your plate right now and I’m sorry you are going to prison…but I’m going to need those cookies.”

She drove away. I didn’t have the cookies. I had delivered all the cookies. All of them. There was nothing left to do but walk up the steps to the prison and turn myself in. It was the justice department’s way. I got to the top stair when I reached into that same jean pocket and pulled out my van’s key fob.

Oh shoot. Todd won’t be able to drive my car. I gotta get this to him.

So I didn’t deliver any cookies but I did run my key fob to Todd.

And then I woke up. Wondering what throttled seeds were and why I would do such a thing. Thankful I wasn’t actually going to prison and hadn’t actually killed anyone. Happy that the worst thing in my day was going to be some light cleaning.

All I know for sure is that school starting isn’t stressing me out and I don’t owe anyone any thin mints.

If you happen to be an incoming PTA parent, think nothing of this. Sign up. We’ll put you to work. Keep a good attitude and nobody gets hurt. 😉