Day 34: The Funniest Day

Sunday was amazing.

To start, it was the first day of standard time. The real beginning of autumn is always nice. The weeks leading up to it are a little bittersweet. They remind me of the end of summer, the start of school, of days passed. But I like autumn. It’s rained a little a couple times, and things are kind of fresh and green(er). And the light in the morning and evening is amazing. I’m looking forward to running again — I’ve taken the last week or so off, to give my knee a little break — because there’s sunlight early in the morning again.

This doesn't look anything like home. Never mind.

This doesn’t look anything like home. Never mind.

The Oyster Girls did one last Sunday with us. They come every weekend, but October is usually their last month. But with the nice weather, they extended one final time. The crowd was mellow, enjoying themselves. Everyone was having a good time. Even those of us “working.” Every time I walked through the office, someone was giggling or laughing.

Finally, I think the funniest thing I’ve had happen at work finally occurred. I think it was only possible because we’re an outdoor tasting room. But I’m not sure. Maybe it would have happened no matter where these folks were.

I was working out front with the oyster bar. I only had four folks at my bar — two couples — and the Oyster Girls were chatting with a guy who was there with his small son and his older father. There was some haggling over who was going to pay for the oysters they wanted. In the background, I heard, loudly, the little boy announce:

I have to PEE.

I didn’t think anything of it. Kids say stuff all the time. I’ve heard and seen weirder things out of the mouths of babes in four years of working at summer camp and another four working with the general public. An announcement about the status of a bladder from a potty-training toddler wasn’t anything to give a second thought.

Until the two guys at my counter gasped, shocked, and I heard the child’s father say, “Oh! No, wait, hang on!”

Because of course, the little boy had decided that, since he had to PEE, and he had announced it, now was the time to do it.

After all, he did warn us.

We were all laughing. I’m not saying that if you have a kid you’re potty training that this is OK. But there’s no point in getting upset. It’s much better to laugh. And the best part was the grandfather, who just about passed out from laughing. He had his head down on his arms, supporting himself on the bar, as the father swooped down, pulled the kid’s pants up, and hustled him to the bathroom.

When relaying the story to my coworkers as we closed, my managers were wiping tears from their eyes.

“I have to admit,” they agreed, “that’s a new one.”

And to think they’d seen it all.

Day 30: In the Company of Friends

I had a friend get hurt last night.

I got the phone call from her around 11:00. Peter and I had gone to bed, me deliriously happy (and maybe a little smug) about the Giants’ win in the World Series. Peter was also pleased, but as is his usual personality, he’s much more composed than I am. He cheered mildly with each Giants success and cursed any failure, but on the whole, just enjoyed watching an excellent baseball game. Me, on the other hand:  as soon as Pablo Sandoval caught the pop-up by Salvador Perez, I’d pulled the bubbly out of the fridge and was leaving a voicemail on my brother’s cell phone that went something like this:

So tell me again about how the Royals are going to beat the Giants?! Neener neener neener! I love you. Come home for Thanksgiving. I’ll see you at Christmas.

Jerked out of sleep in the dark, my friend’s voice was calm but strained. She’d fallen. Her knee was messed up. Could we come to try to help her move from J’s kitchen floor and into her car, and hopefully home? She thought it might be dislocated or twisted; maybe the previous injury from earlier this summer had flared up again.

Not the actual x-ray.

Not the actual x-ray.

We hustled over, and it became clear pretty quickly that a trip to the emergency room was in order. The boys tried — and failed — to lift her without pain into the back of her car. She said it felt like her leg was being pulled off. Scratch that plan. I called 911, and they sent the fire department and an ambulance. The paramedics got her onto the gurney and into the back, then took her to the hospital. Peter took W home, but not before W told the paramedics: We love her, and you’d better take good care of her, or I’ll find you. The EMT laughed. “I’ve done this a long time,” he said when we apologized. “Trust me, he’s got a long way to go before he reaches the worst.”

I followed and sat with her, feeling completely and utterly useless. Here was my friend, one of the strongest women I know, who has been a rock in my life ever since I’ve met her, who has always been there if I needed her to be; and here I was, unable to do anything to help with the pain of the injury or the frustration of having to go through the whole thing in the first place. All I could do was sit.

I hadn’t felt particularly helpful until the end of the ER visit, when I was able to, from my viewpoint, actually do something. That “something” came in the form of finding the 24-hour pharmacy to get the pain medication prescription filled. And then this morning, when a trip to her storage unit was needed to find a wheelchair. Or even to get a glass of milk from the refrigerator to avoid upset stomach. But all those were small. Mostly I sat with her and waited and felt helpless.

And yet W and J both sent me messages today: You’re a good friend. You’re a good person. Thank you for your help.

I told them both the same thing: I try to surround myself with good people and take my cues from them. If in fact I was helpful or comforting to my friend, it’s only because I learned from the best: I learned from them.

And I was just glad to be there.

Day 24: One Hundred Sunrises

I did some quick and dirty math:

Sunrise behind Mt. Saint Helena.

Sunrise behind Mt. Saint Helena.

Since I started running in April, I’ve seen approximately one hundred sunrises.

And now all those early wakeups are about to pay off. Every time I dragged myself out of bed to run sprints at the track; each time the alarm went off in the dark, and I shuffled out the door into the fog; all the times I felt like sleeping in but got up anyway; all of that buildup will be tested on Saturday.

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The race is tomorrow, you guys. I’ve got my dinner for tonight and breakfast for the morning all planned. My clothes will be laid out and ready to go. It’s supposed to be colder tomorrow than I’ve ever run in, so I’m going to be a big baby and buy handwarmers to hold in my pockets before we start. And unless the Giants game goes into extra innings, it should be a 9:00 bedtime pretty easily.

They’ll even let me drop off clothes to change into when I arrive, and the race organizers will hold onto them and give them back at the end! Amazing! I joked to my friend Jordan that I was going to bring my bathrobe. I’m kind of considering it.

Everything is in line. Everything will be fine. I’ll be running with former coworkers and current industry cohorts. And friends.

Of course we’ll miss the sunrise tomorrow, because naturally tomorrow is the only day this week with a likelihood of rain to match my sunrise quota: one hundred percent.

Day 22: Baby Bogart

My housemate got a dog a couple months ago.

Bogart's first day home.

Bogart’s first day home.

He’d been talking about getting one for a while, and our other housemate (the homeowner) was totally down with it, and so the process began.

At the same time, I saw something in my news feed: a post from the Sonoma Humane Society with a picture of a 4-1/2-month-old mutt with the floppiest ears I had ever seen. Then I realized it was a shared post. My housemate’s shared post. With an announcement that he had just filed the adoption papers for the pup in the picture.

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It’s been a fun time since Bogart came into the house. We were all immediately smitten. How could you not love that face? He’s got some terrier in him, so his energy can be a little manic at times. His favorite thing to do is to stand on the arm of the leather chair by the front door — a habit we’re trying to break him from, as he’s still growing.

Just chewin' on the ol' elk antler.

Just chewin’ on the ol’ elk antler.

Nothing is safe on the coffee table. He’s pretty good about keeping his mouth off things, but his whip-like tail is another. I think I have bruised shins from Bogart’s tail. The radiator in the hallway is dented from it. Bogart is unfazed.

He also has no concept of personal space, which can be hilarious (like right now, he’s lying on Jon’s back chewing on his elk antler). Peter and I will be sitting on the couch with our feet up on the coffee table, and Bogart will try to climb over our legs, one by one, in an attempt to climb into our laps or behind us. He loves to hang over the back of the couch, too. He just wants to be involved.

In the shade on Magnolia

In the shade on Magnolia

Jon is trying to turn him into a running dog. We’ll see how that goes. Jenny took him for a three-mile run a few weeks back, and Bogart flopped down into the first patch of shade he could find. Jon had a similar experience today.

But he sleeps pretty well at the end of it.

Sleepy Bogart.

Sleepy Bogart.


Day 19: My Mother, My Conscience

I really should call my mother more.

Stinson Beach, ca. 1987

Stinson Beach, ca. 1987

On Friday, I was talking to a guest. We were trying to sort out an issue with her shipment, which seemed to have gone to her mother’s house in Minnesota instead of to her own home in San Francisco. And she commented, “I talk to my mom almost every day,” saying her mom would have let her know if anything had arrived.

“I should call my mom that often,” I told her.

My mom has had a rough year. Without airing too much of her personal business here, let’s just stick with that. And part of the difficulty has been that, as she recovers, she feels we don’t understand what she’s going through, and that we aren’t listening to her. I promise you we’re trying; but she may also have a point. Our communication — hers and mine, I mean — has not been as good as it used to be. Tempers are shorter, and my mother is, I think, unhappy. Or less happy.

And to prove the old adage, when mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. You see, growing up, my mother was the touchstone of the family. She was waking us up every morning, dark or light, rain or shine. She was home every day when I got off the school bus. She’s the one you call when shit goes down. And she’s always right. I mean really.

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Case in point: in July, two months into her recovery, she sat me down and said, “You haven’t been around. You haven’t been here for me. I haven’t seen you. I understand this is hard for you, and if you need help dealing with it, we can talk, or we can find someone you can talk to. But buck up and pull your shit together.”

Family portrait, 1989.

Family portrait, 1989.

Okay, she didn’t say “pull your shit together.” My mother doesn’t swear. She doesn’t have to. But she was totally right: I was avoiding dealing with her healing because the idea that my mother will not be here forever was fucking terrifying me.

I’ve always had a sort of Peter Pan … thing. I’m in denial about my adulthood, about all the changes in my life. I stood in the back yard of my parents’ home, where they have lived for more than thirty years, and I don’t see the changes that have happened. I know they have, of course. There used to be a deck where there is a patio. There used to be a wall where there’s a kitchen. The wallpaper used to be beige with brown, floral designs. I know these changes have happened, but at the same time, I can’t see them. My family remains unchanged in my mind. My parents are indestructible. They’ll be there forever.

So this thing that happened with my mother, it scared me. It scares me. It’s a reminder that she’s older. That we’re older. That everything changes. And that nothing waits for you to be ready for it; it just happens.

I’m lucky, still. My mother is here. I can still call her if I’m having a bad day. Instead, though, I should call her if I’m having a good one, because I think it’s time for me to be there for her once in a while.

Day 18: Things I’ve Learned from Running, Part Deux

Apparently I have a problem with water. *

Dan: Did you take water?
Me: Yes, I drank almost seventy ounces in 11.6 miles.
Dan: Dang. That’s too much water. You don’t need that much.
Me: Maybe.

[a few days later after a bonafide sprint** around Magnolia Drive]

Neither half full  nor half empty.

Neither half full nor half empty.

Dan: See? You don’t need water!
Me: Maybe not, but I’d be happier if I did.
Dan: I think you have a problem with water.
Me: I have a problem with the substance that sustains all life on this planet?
Dan: Uh huh.
Me: Maybe. Do we have time to get gas? My warning light just turned on.
Dan: Yep.


*Conversations paraphrased.
**Okay not a sprint. But we ran fast(er than I wanted to)

Day 17: Make It a Good One — A Few Thoughts on My Father

My dad is a pretty amazing guy.

At Stinson Beach with my brother, Jeremy, and Dad, ca. 1987.

At Stinson Beach with my brother, Jeremy, and Dad, ca. 1987.

Most of my friends feel the same way about their dads. I was lucky. I grew up with my dad around all the time. He was pretty much always there when I needed him.

It took a while for me to realize a couple things about my dad. He was an insurance agent for his first career. He commuted to Oakland from our home in the north bay for the first twelve years of my life. He would wake up every morning around 3:30, drive an hour and twenty minutes down to Oakland, where he would go to the gym, have a breakfast meeting, work for the day, and drive home, arriving back between 6:30 and 6:45. He would have dinner with us; mom would always cook but he would clean up. He’d be in bed pretty early in order to do it all over again.

When I got older, I realized something: during those years, he was always there at my soccer and basketball games. But my mom never was. As a kid, I didn’t hold it against her; I just figured she didn’t like that stuff that much, and it didn’t bother me. I didn’t want to do things I didn’t enjoy either. I spent the most part of my elementary school years trying to hide my broccoli in various parts of the living room so I wouldn’t have to eat it.

But as an adult, I look back at it and I realize that Dad always made sure that he was there for things like that. Mom didn’t go, not because she didn’t like sports (which she doesn’t, but I still don’t blame her), but because that was his time.

Of course, when he switched careers and worked closer to home, he was still there for everything I did. But that meant he was there for mid-week track meets, to pick me up from drama rehearsal, and waiting to take me home at the end of the day from my first job at the movie theater (often well past 1am).

So I knew going into adulthood that my dad was a solid guy. But as I grew up, and our relationship took on more of a friendship quality, I realized something: my father is an incredibly positive person. He went to Nepal with my brother in 1997, in the midst of an imminent career change and a sort of crisis of faith. He came home, started going back to church (we had all stopped going ages before that), but he also took up meditation.

On the ferry to Ellis Island, ca. 1988.

On the ferry to Ellis Island, ca. 1988.

In talking about him to some guests, I described him today as a meditating duck, in that he is both unflappable and calm, but also things just bead up and roll right off him. I know much of that ability comes with time and practice. I can’t wait to become more like my dad in that way.

I tell him, “I love you.” He says, “Thank you.” I know he means it. He is grateful for my love.

I’m grateful for his, too.

When I would get angry or frustrated, or try to blame other people for my trouble, he always told me that nobody can make me feel anything; only I can. He never says, “Have a good day.” He says, “Make it a good day.” A good day was — and is — always a choice for my dad.

Maybe someday I’ll go back and organize this a little more coherently. But for now, I think I’ll try to spend the rest of the evening, week, month, year, my life … I’ll spend it trying to make it the best I can.


Day 16: Things I’ve Learned from Running

Yoakim Bridge

Yoakim Bridge

The half marathon approaches. Yesterday I did my last long run before it (from now on, it’ll be 3-6 miles, tops. Closer to three probably). And there are a few things I’ve learned about myself in the last six months since I started running.

• I can get up early to run and still be on time for work. I always used the “I don’t have enough time” excuse for not exercising more. Now I know: that’s completely untrue.

•We might not have birds like they do in New Zealand, but ours still sound amazing when they sing in the morning.

I can eat anything! Okay, maybe that wasn’t learned, so much as it was reinforced, because Peter had been telling me for ages that if I was worried about what I was eating, I either had to eat less (or better) and ride my bike more. I know how much riding it takes to reach this point. Running is faster.



•Every 6:15 wakeup is not the same. It doesn’t matter if I didn’t drink anything last night, went to bed early, got my eight hours. Waking up when it’s dark sucks. Running when it’s still dark kind of sucks.

•But it’s always easier with a friend. Dan planted the seed, and when this whole thing started back in March, I thought I would be running with other people all the time. Then he got hurt, and I decided to train for this race, and suddenly I had to motivate myself. I’m actually looking forward to not needing to run as much each week, not only because my 11.6 mile run made me want to go to bed for the afternoon but because I’ll be able to run with Jodee in the mornings.

My favorite!

My favorite!

•I didn’t realize I would smell like Sauvignon Blanc at the end of a run. I was coming home after runs and going absolutely mad in my room, gagging and running for the window, turning up the fan, and wondering why the hell I smelled like toilet cleaner. Turns out, that’s just a thing that happens when you run. It has something to do with carbohydrates and the body burning protein. My roommate said it’s the same thing that happens when someone is about to have a diabetic attack: “Their breath smells like Juicy Fruit!” So that’s helpful.

•Running exfoliates. No seriously. The bottoms of my feet are peeling off. Okay, actually that is kinda gross.

•I don’t even recognize myself. And I don’t mean when I look in the mirror. I mean, when I was in high school, my physics teacher would joke (I think?) about trying to get me to join the cross country team. I would always laugh and say, “I hate running!” Now, I think I said that in the same way that I used to say, “I’m bad at math.” I’d only convinced myself I was bad at math. Which isn’t to say that the brain isn’t the most powerful muscle in the body. I totally believe it is. I still believe I can’t do math. But I also know that:

tumblr_lshsi4BnyC1qfjrdco1_500•I can do anything if I put my mind to it. I ran 11.6 miles yesterday. Less than six months ago, I ran a mile without stopping for the first time since that stupid president’s fitness test in high school (and even then I walked most of it, because high school, ugh). And I did this without someone running with me, without trying to prove anything to anyone but myself. In moments of weakness, when I wanted to stop running and walk, Matt Costa and Delta Spirit came on, as if they knew I needed them.

So I kept going. And now I know I’ve got this.

Day 10: Playing House

I’ve been writing, you guys. I swear.

This page isn't blank. It's full of potential!

This page isn’t blank. It’s full of potential!

Not a lot, mind you. Little bits, here and there. I have many blogs posts that I have been chipping away at periodically. I know the Forty Days of Writing isn’t so much about publishing as it is about just putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as is my chosen medium). But I do still feel like I’ve been slacking by not finishing anything. Never mind though. It’s “forty days of writing,” not “forty days of coming to valuable conclusions about heavy topics like feminism and how I associate blackberry picking with summer and childhood, and how the smell of blackberries reminds me of my past youth and the douchebag who built that fucking fence around my parents’ house. Oh, and that sociopath from college.”

You know. Easy topics.

So just to get my fingers moving, I want to introduce you to Brodie.

Here we are on the couch. I’m sorry the resolution sucks, but I have an iPhone 4, trying to make things work with the reverse camera in low light and not wanting to disturb the dog …

Rule breakers.

Rule breakers.

You see, I get to housesit for my friends. Well, really their parents. And also sometimes Jodee’s cat, whom I started calling Maeby Baby, but is now Miracle Maeby. Anyway, it’s a chance to get out of my house (which I love! Don’t misunderstand me) and get a little space and quiet time.

And I get to play house. I’m not ready for my own house, but getting to stay in some of these homes lets me pretend. They come with pets. I like animals. (And after cuddling with Brodie, I think I want a corgi now. Well, not now. Someday. When I don’t have to work away from the house, and when I don’t kill succulents.) It’s nice to play house, to get up early in the morning and let out the chickens before I leave for my run. It’s nice to have furry beasts run to greet me when I come in. Surround sound is pretty groovy, too.

It’s also really nice having access to a hot tub for a week. What can I say? I’m a mercenary. And a sucker for a spa with a view of the chicken run. But playing house? It’s kind of fun. I’ll miss this guy when our time together is up, but it will be good to be home, too.

What I came downstairs to see on Thursday morning.

What I came downstairs to see on Thursday morning.