Saturday, May 31, 2014

Day 299 of 365: The O Word

I don’t know exactly when, but from adolescence and onward, I started using the “O” word:


“Don’t mind me; I’m just one big oaf.”

“I’ve totally got oafish powers.”

At one point, when I first started dating my husband, I tripped over a curb. Before I could even right myself, I laughed out, “And the oaf strikes again.”

“You’re not an oaf,” he said sincerely. “You’re elegant.”

Apparently, I responded to that statement by looking at him like he had three heads.

Years after we got married, my husband said to me: “It always made me so sad that you would call yourself that.”

“Why? I was only joking.”

“Except that you weren’t.”

And he was right.

I’ve been in the 99% percentile in height since the day I was born. I was that lone “tall” kid in all those school pictures, towering over everyone else – boys included –dwarfed only by the full-grown teacher. By the eighth grade, I was the same height as the teachers, if not taller.

I remember being told I had “gazelle power” by my track coach (noting the long leaps I would take when I ran) -- and I remember not signing up for track again after that season ended. I remember quitting kung fu training because I thought I looked like an idiot, my lanky frame kicking and punching like wet noodles in the wind. If you find a group picture from any high school dance that included me in it, you’ll see me sporting a very forced, pained smile: pained either because I’m bending awkwardly at the knees so that I’m the same height as everyone else, or because I knew I was that lone head sticking out of a sea of normal people.

I capped out at 5’11” -- “model height”, as so many people pointed out. I took those people on their advice and started modeling, relishing the idea of being around “tallies” just like me. But, in the end, I was still an inch or two taller than most of the models at the casting calls – and those girls were all much, much skinnier than me, which all but confirmed my “oaf” status.

When I started yoga, I couldn’t touch my toes. I’m pretty sure I could only touch my shins on a good day. Five years later, when I tell people this, suddenly it’s my turn to be looked at like I have three heads.

My body had immediately adapted to yoga. As soon as I had started practicing regularly, I found myself morphing into and through each pose with ease. I could downright feel my body melting into its potential.

About two years ago, I finally stopped seeing myself as “the oaf”. I stopped smiling in pictures like I was ashamed of my height. I stopped fretting over the idea of wearing heels because I didn’t want to emphasize how tall I was. I started actually believing it when my husband called me “elegant”.

The easy thing would to be to point to my “success” in yoga. Of course I would stop feeling oafish once I could place my palms on the floor in a forward fold! I mean, who wouldn’t?

Except that I was a rising star on the track team when I had quit. I was consistently impressing the kung fu instructors with my leg kicks when I had decided I was too awkward to continue. I had already demonstrated to the world how quickly my body can adapt to athletics – but I hadn’t demonstrated it to myself.

What’s the use of hitting the top floor when your self esteem is still at the mezzanine?

What helped me change was not the bendy-stretchy aspect of yoga. What did help was the emphasis on deep introspection – as well as the deep gratitude for and acceptance of the body I had.

It took being in an atmosphere where you let go of judgment and competition – especially with yourself – and appreciate your exact body type and exactly what it can do. It took those gentle reminders to find a variation that suits your body and to let go of what does not serve you. It took those gentle reminders to honor your body – and that your body is worth honoring. And it took years of constantly going back to that environment and slowly growing into my own skin before I stopped labeling it “oafish”.

I recognize that this “growing into my own skin” could also be due to having grown a little bit older and (hopefully) a little bit wiser. But I also recognize that I have could have been stuck in the exact same patterns as I was in before had I not taken that time on my mat – and taken what I had learned off of it. I needed something to help me recognize that my body was elegant regardless of how easily I could touch my toes or kick a bag, regardless of how I ran or how often I tripped on curbs -- and yoga was that exact something I needed.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Day 298 of 365: Sunburn

"Too white to function," isn't hyperbole. I am seriously too pale to conduct normal life.

Case in point: today I sat outside for a graduation ceremony. I was probably out in the sun from 8:30 a.m. to roughly 12:30 p.m. -- and a good portion of that time, I was shielding myself from the sun with the graduation program (which, let's be real, aside from using the front page as a countdown until it's over, that's all it is good for).

And now I am in a situation where I need to apply the aloe vera to a literal sick burn.

Y'know, I get it. My ancestors were from a much more northern region than Boston. They hung out in Ireland and England and Scotland (and apparently Poland somewhere in there). They dealt with a lot more rain and cloud cover. They also dealt with a lot more of that ozone layer.

But -- seriously -- I would like to go out for a run without SPF 80 on because I'll otherwise be coming home with a Ring Around the Abby: a nice red strip that goes across my forehead and then continues on at the base of my neck. I would like to not resemble a tomato if I go out to the beach. I would like to not invest as much money in sunscreen as I do in soap.

And I would like to not get a sunburn if I have my sunroof open on a drive that lasts more than 20 minutes. I mean, seriously. That shit is just not fair.

Well, nothing I can do now but treat my burns and keep an eye out for any freckles that have decided to go rogue. And bemoan my very white state.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Day 297 of 365: Hey, Are We Nostalgic for the 90s Yet?

Hey, remember the 90s?

Y'know, with the stuff, and the trends, and the things?

Like Nickelodeon Studios? And POGs? And Tamagotchis? And being a kid with obviously no cares in the world?

Seriously, we need to talk about the 90s some more.

Because remember that music? With boybands? Not like the boybands around today: real boybands, making really fun pop music. Remember the clothing trends? Remember all those sparkles? Remember being young enough to get away with wearing sparkles on your shirt?

Just ask the internet: we need more 90s posts.

Because kids these days, am I right? They'll never know what it's like to rewind a tape cassette! Or have friends call a landline number! They don't know the simplicity of passing notes folded up like little footballs or sharing their gel pens!

I mean, seriously, what a simpler time.

This post is only one of many wonderful and obviously unique 90s posts, relishing in the incredible nostalgia for a time that had to have been way happier than our diaries make it out to be. I mean, we had Rocko's Modern Life -- how bad could life have been?

Because we need to relish in the 90s. As Generation Y, we feel this constant drive to look back at the 20th century because the 21st century hasn't exactly been kind to us. We're the generation that got lied to about college. We're the generation to get dropped into the real world right at the beginning of the Great Recession and we're the generation that shows just how little the economy has recovered since then. Some of us are hitting 30 and still unemployed and underemployed, working free internships that will never in a million years turn into a salaried gig. We're looking at all the things we're supposed to do at this time -- buy a house, have a big wedding, fulfill the Leave it to Beaver American Dream -- and recognizing that this American Dream will probably die with us, if it hasn't died already.

So, seriously, let's talk about Power Rangers and Spice Girls and that sense of wonder when CD players became affordable. Let's talk about a time when the economy was booming, but we were too young and innocent to see it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Day 296 of 365: Getting Sick

When I worked with young children, getting sick was the name of the game. I got everything, from ringworm, to strep throat, to flus and viruses and fevers. By my third year, I stopped getting sick as much. I'm not sure if this was due to a boosted immune system or the paralyzing fear I had for trying to get a sick day in a school with very few substitutes (but that's a rant for another time). Regardless, when I quit the teaching world, I immediately thought of how wonderful it was going to be, not dealing with a the petri dish that is a school.

What I can only assume to be a post-run, "Finally, I can breathe," response, I am achy and painy all over. My throat has been sore for a few days -- which I chalked up to living in a town surrounded by the flora (and the fauna, but my allergies to animals are slim to none). But I woke up today with exactly one thought on my mind: DayQuil. Get me my Tylenol, get me my tea, and get me a nap.

My mind is boggled by how I could even catch a cold in the first place. Compared to the hundreds of people I would interact in some form with as a teacher (especially if I had the misfortune of trying to walk down a hall when class got out), I really have minimized my interactions with other germ-filled homo sapiens. Granted, a lot of these minimized interactions include things like working with a makeup artist (who will be about two inches from your face as she paints you up), but still. I spent so long in one of the most germ-infested places around (save for a doctor's office) that it shocks me when everyday life gets me sick as well.

But I have one big thing going for me now: getting sick means I can actually take it easy. One of the biggest ironies we have in the modern, civilized world is the fact that early education teachers -- who are tied with nurses in the "most likely to get sick from their livelihood" department -- have a pitifully low number of sick days. Even when I felt secure in calling up to call out, I knew that I had to choose between using my vacation days or getting docked in pay. This leads a lot of teachers to go back into work when they are obviously not feeling good, which makes the place an even bigger breeding ground for disease.

So today, I am going to brew up as much tea as I can muster, settle down for work that can involve a whole lot of ass-sitting, and wait for this bug to take its course. I might be turning my own home into a bit of a petri dish, but at least it's only my doing.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Day 295 of 365: Class Exhaustion

So I'm going into month 6 of my yoga teacher training. I'm rounding out my last lecture with the anatomy class, the required reading has dropped dramatically, and the focus now is on the practicum and experiential learning.

I remember when I first learned I was going into teacher training -- specifically, when I learned I had a week to do a month's worth of work. I bent balls to the wall, devoting every free day to that coursework. I think about that time -- and I think about the first three months, which were academically intensive -- and I wonder how I ever did it.

Why? Because I am hitting class exhaustion. We were warned that we'd all hit that point in our training -- and, boy, did I hit it.

It reminds me why I continue to be so thankful that I went to Northeastern and dove headfirst into the co-op program. Just when I would get sick to death of school, I would hop into an internship. And just when I would get sick to death of the internship, I would hop back into school.

It almost makes you wish that life was always like that: a rotating schedule of class and work, class and work. Get out of the academic world long enough to miss it, get out of the working world long enough to hate the academic world and pine for a 9-to-5.

Granted, I have no idea when I'd ever work a 9-to-5 again, if ever. And teacher training wraps up in three more months. And heaven knows I have been having freelance work exhaustion (which lead me to putting the lid on promoting myself as a tai chi instructor for the time being).

I really don't know where this is going, aside from the fact that we all can benefit from a little variation. We all get exhausted with our routine. It's why we go on vacations, try to get promoted, quit work and go back to school, change career fields, and so on, and so forth.

Now, if you'd excuse me, I'm off to do more research for my project due in two weeks.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Day 294 of 365: Yes, All Women

Last Friday, a Santa Barbara college student murdered 7 people before taking his own life. He sent a 140+ page manifesto to his parents, detailing why he was killing. It all boiled down to one thing: the women he wanted didn't want to sleep with him. So he went down the, "If I can't have it, no one can," mentality and killed not only women, but "the men these women are attracted to."

In the wake of this event, Twitter has come alive with #yesallwomen. All you have to do is take a look at this hashtag to realize that this horrific tragedy is only an exaggerated version of what women go through every day. From facing aggressive backlash over "friendzoning" (a term I absolutely hate but that's for another time) to sexual assault. From pointing out a society that singles out rape as the one crime that somehow -- even in the eyes of the court -- can be the victim's fault to pointing out the outcry for this "poor virgin" who dealt with rejection with murder.

I've been there. Done that. Bought the T-shirt. Realized it was the wrong size and couldn't return it. Everything from being called a bitch because I had the audacity to not return a friend's feelings to getting my ass grabbed because I had the audacity to wear tight jeans at a nightclub.

My modeling career has been riddled with situations that could fill up anyone's Twitter feed. And the kicker is that my situations were tame in comparison to what other models have been through. The industry is a breeding ground for perpetrators. It only takes a quick Google search to find out what some of the most well-known photographers have pulled. And the same way that the modeling world is amplified version of what women go through on a day-to-day basis, the reaction to it is amplified as well: "Well, what did you expect, being in that profession?" "They're surrounded by beautiful woman; of course they'll act that way!" "Who wouldn't do that with a half-naked chick in front of them?" "Maybe you should just take it as a compliment."

I remember hearing about one particular model coming out against Terry Richardson. She isn't the only model -- by any stretch of the imagination is she not the only model -- to come out against Terry Richardson's behavior. And I remember people responding back -- not to call that model a liar, but to tell her that she should've expected that, working with Terry.

I've ranted forever on this blog about the inherent shittiness of humans (thanks in much part to natural selection). I've ranted forever about how easily we are all influenced by the most subtle of behaviors. It's easy to dismiss mass murder as the workings of a man men. But we need to take that step back and examine what it means when a guy can do this and people respond with sympathy ("If only those women gave him the sex he deserved!").

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Day 293 of 365: And It Is Done

I came, I saw, I ran 5.5 miles on about 3 hours of sleep.

Lesson learned: no more early morning races. Especially if they're an hour away.

But I'm still glad I did it. Part of it was murderous -- I definitely angered my knee and then some -- but there were few things as relieving as crossing the finish line, getting my medal, and being able to say I did it.

The race reminded me why I run in the first place. It reminded me why I love races. There's an energy about races that you don't get when you just jog around the block. And there's this feeling of zen when you run outside for a long time that you just don't get when you go to the gym and use the elliptical.

It reminded me that while I am taking a running sabbatical of at least a month, if not more, I'm not giving up on it yet. The Chicago Marathon might be in limbo now, but who knows what the future holds.

And it was also nice to just get to run in my city. I was running through the streets of Boston, past the World Trade Center, into the Heart of Boston, around the Common and back. How often can you say the city of Boston shut down their street to let you (and 12,000 other runners) go running?

And now, I'm going to enjoy what I couldn't last night: the main UFC fights, some delicious Pad Thai, and -- finally -- some rest.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Day 292 of 365: Honoring

So, it's official: I came, I registered, I transferred to the 5-mile race.

Am I thrilled about it? Not exactly. I have to be in Boston by 6:30 in the morning for this race -- not exactly something I would be doing for a 5-miler (which, as I've mentioned before, used to be the distance I would run if I haven't gone running in a while). But the last thing I want to be doing is pulling out of yet another race.

I had some seriously high hopes for this half marathon, especially since it was going to kickstart my actual marathon training (which might mean the Chicago Marathon for this year is a distant memory, and the implications for that are enough to complete send this post completely off track).

But if there is anything yoga has taught me, it's that I need to honor my body. Not just in the granola, "oh I love my body!" type of way, but respecting its limits and current limitations. And, truth be told, if I were 100% honoring my limits, I probably wouldn't even be running the 5-miler (as I seriously run the risk of reinjury). But what good would it do if I force myself to do the half-marathon, get more injured, force myself forward, and possibly do permanent damage?

I remember when I tore a muscle in my calf. I thought I would never see a day when it didn't feel like I was sporting a rock behind my leg. And those days are thankfully a distant memory. I might have to take a summer off from running (and put off marathon training indefinitely), but I have faith that this angry tendon, too, will be a distant memory. I just need to honor what my body needs right now, even if that means falling short of my personal expectations.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Day 291 of 365: The Purpose of Writing

So yesterday was essay-central. On top of writing and submitting something to MindBodyGreen, I sent a pitch over to one of the more major websites (and I expect nothing to come of it, but I figured it's worth trying). I also rewrote and polished up yesterday's entry. Before I could Trey Parker it (which is what I refer to as a "creative fallout", aka when an artist spends a condensed amount of time on one piece and then decides it's the worst shit they've ever done, a la Trey Parker in 6 Days to Air), I submitted it to ElephantJournal. They replied back, saying that they loved my piece but required just a bit more tweeking before they could accept it. I submitted a rewrite and, this morning, the have officially accepted the piece, scheduled to be posted sometime next week.

I'm happy that I was able to turn a very frustrating situation into a productive essay. That director's passive-aggressive reply really killed my spirit -- enough that I think I'm done trying to hawk my tai chi teaching abilities until the fall (at which point I'll be focusing on only yoga and martial art studios; I am done with rec centers). It really bothered me, really took the energy out of me. I forced myself to stay productive (including applying for a sales rep/front desk position at a local gym, but that's for another time) but, even with a large iced coffee (with proceeds going to charity) in my system, I was in a funk.

This isn't the first time I got a very frustrating situation out in essay form, and in a way that at least one website wanted to run it. My very first essay was written purely because I couldn't process the emotional fallout and complete uncertainty that quitting teaching brought me. What happened next was a deluge of emails from teachers on the verge of quitting (as well as some former teachers) who thanked me for saying what they couldn't say.

As a fiction writer, my goal is to transcribe the story I've got going on in my brain in a way that it evokes some type of emotion and maybe even teaches you some type of lesson. As an essay writer (I won't go so far to call myself a full-out "essayist"), my goal is to take my own experiences and write about them in a way so that those who cannot articulate how they are feeling finally have the words necessary.

Take my rant about certification. If I can get just one other person -- one other martial art instructor, one other yoga instructor, anyone -- to read that and feel like they are not alone in their frustrations, then my experiences happened with a bigger purpose than the vague, "everything happens for a reason." If I can convey how I felt when certain disappointments happened, when heartbreaks and mournings pile up and I don't feel like there's any way I can sort it out, then my job as a writer is complete.

Sometimes it's nice to have a website so readily agree to run my things. But for every piece that gets published (namely, through Thought Catalog), there are about 15 pitches that get shot down by the Big Names. But, regardless of how my stuff gets out there, if it can get out there -- if it can reach who it is meant to reach -- then I'm doing a-okay as a would-be novelist or essayist.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Day 290 of 365: People, We Need to Stop Using the C Word


“So, how is your teacher certification going?” I had a friend ask me recently.

“Well, my teacher training is going great,” I began. “But, technically, there’s no certification.”

“What? I thought, at the end of this, you’d be certified at the 200-hour level.”

“Well, I’ll be registered at the 200-hour level. With Yoga Alliance,” I tried to explain.

“So you won’t be certified to teach?” my friend downright yelped. She looked at me in a way that said: Poor thing, you are getting scammed.

I had a few friends recently go to a Yin Yoga Teacher Training. At the end, one of the friends asked, “So, does this mean we’re certified to teach Yin?”

“Well, you have now been trained in Yin Yoga teaching. Be careful saying you’re certified.”

My disdain for the word “certified” is not a new one. I’ve been learning tai chi for almost as long as I’ve been practicing yoga. I prided myself on training one-on-one with a teacher who was born, raised, and trained in China – a teacher whose own instructor has won multiple national championships in China with his forms of wushu. There is no “training” system in China: you learn your martial art with your instructor, and you are only ready to teach when your own instructor says you are ready to teacher. And this is (ideally) not something an instructor takes lightly; they won’t say, “oh, you should so teach what you’ve learned!” as a way of flattery.

This is true with most martial arts, and yoga as a whole: there is no “official” certification system.

By the time I started making my transition into the world of physical well-being, my own instructor had been advising me to teach for almost a year. Some places – namely martial art studios – accepted my, “I was trained by X, who was trained by Y, and I come upon the recommendation of X,” (as well as a free demo class) as my credentials. Yoga studios, if interested in tai chi, were also accepting.

And then I tried to expand where I applied.

By the time I started contacting community centers, I was very used to rejection. From studios that did not feel adding on tai chi would be in their best interest to classes that didn’t generate enough students to merit continuation, to business straight up going out of business while I was teaching there. So I was ready to be told they had no interest in me. What I didn’t expect a hyper-emphasis on “certification”. I would explain how there is no official certification system, and – while some are independently in place – the traditional view is on the lineage of tutelage, not a piece of paper.

(This did not impress them and I typically would never hear back.)

This culminated in an email from a center director who let me know that they “already had a tai chi instructor” who “actually was certified to teach tai chi.” This passive-aggressive dig let the wind out of my sails, putting me in a funk that, fittingly enough, only an intense yoga class could get me out of.

I bemoaned my frustration to a friend (I think I used the phrase, “Thirty-five different levels of ‘I cannot’ right now.”), who let me know that he has a friend going a similar situation: his friend is a wedding photographer, and apparently has been losing clients left and right because he is not, “Wedding Photog Certified”.

Yes, apparently that’s a “thing”.

I decided to look into this “tai chi certification”, which lead me to almost twenty different sites, half of which looked like that had updated their coding as recently as 2002. One site essentially told me that I can get certified if I write them a really nice letter, get my instructor to write them a really nice letter, and pay them a boatload of money. Another site boasted “online training”. Only a few even specified what family of tai chi they specialized in.

In those websites’ defense, some appeared genuinely concerned about a ensuring high quality of teaching. But what if I got certified through one of those more dubious sites? Would anyone care? Probably not. All they would care is that I am “certified”.

And we see this all the time with yoga as well: how many yoga instructors do you know say that are a “200/500 Hour-Level Certified Yoga Instructor”? How many trainings word themselves that way? How many are slow to admit that there is no certification system that is recognized by Yoga Alliance – or by the yoga community at large?

I see myself doing it when I start searching for yoga teacher positions (as my training wraps up in August): everyone wants a “certified yoga instructor”, and I could be costing myself a job if I point out to them that no one is technically “certified”. I see instructors boasting certification in various forms of yoga, and all I can do is recall that Yin Yoga instructor warning his students to not use that wording.

Listen, people: I am all about ensuring quality. It’s why I spent a year agonizing over teaching tai chi until I knew I could teach it in a way that was comprehensive and adaptable. It’s why I’m downright killing myself to get as much from my yoga teacher training as possible. But something horrible happens when we place a hyper-emphasis on certifications for the sake of certifications: we get organizations that boast quick and easy certification for lots and lots of money. And we get teachers and other individuals feeling backed in a corner, like all they can do is shell out that money or be somehow “lacking”, even if they actually hurt their ability to teach by listening to this for-profit websites.

There is a reason why any worthwhile company that requires CPR certification go that step further and say through the Red Cross or through the American Heart Association: because to say, “Get certified,” and nothing more leads a lot of people to go on “certification websites”, which are nothing more than a few YouTube videos and a demand for $45 or more before you are deemed “certified”.

As a culture, we love that word. A “certified pre-owned car” is better than “used” because it means it passed an inspection test by the manufacturing company and comes with a warrantee. “Certified organic” is better than “natural” because it means that particular food item has passed very specific rigors (whereas almost any company can call their food “natural”, but that’s for another time). We’ve become so ingrained with this evil C word that we sometimes look for it without understanding why.

The quality of how you learn is vital. It’s why yoga teacher trainings that are accredited by the Yoga Alliance are considered your best option. But this hyper-emphasis on “certified” can do way more harm than good. It creates a breeding ground of people looking to make a dollar off of very frustrated instructors – or wedding photographers. It’s time to take a step back and band together when people ask for a, “Yoga teacher certified at the 200-hour level.”

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Day 289 of 365: Over the Hill

So, let's talk about something other than running, shall we?

Because I did it. I finally did it: I finally wrote the climax of my third manuscript.

Anyone who has even passed by a novel writing workshop can tell you that a proper novel -- that a proper story in general -- has an arc to it. The only time this deviates is in short stories, where the story might cut off at the climax, making it more of an upward slope. But a dynamic story always has that build-up. And a proper novel, movie, or TV show, will then have the slope back down -- the resolution and closure.

If there has ever been a time I feel like arc, it's been with this manuscript. Not in the "I'm writing a truly dynamic story because I can feel the build-up in the story!" way, but in the, "Oh my God, I am climbing uphill," way. The closer and closer I got to that high point in the story -- that moment when all the shit hath hit-eth the fan-eth and everything comes to a head -- the more I felt like I was doing an upward climb, downright trudging uphill with my feet sinking in the mud with every step. And the closer I got to the top, the steeper the climb got. To make matters worse, there was no path on this hypothetical climb. I genuinely didn't know if I was going uphill or just meandering around the mountain.

But somehow I stumbled, tripped, and grasped my way to the top. The hard part is now over.

(I hope).

So now I have two chapters to write now, with that last chapter potentially being just as difficult as that "climax" chapter (man I feel dirty every type I say, "climax"). And, much like many things in this manuscript, the climax was written and rewritten and will probably undergo some heavy edits after everything is said and done. But it's a weird relief to know it's all downhill from here.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Day 288 of 365: Downsizing

Timing is hilarious: last night, just when I was realizing that the feeling from that tendon was about equal parts "turning a set of rusty gears" and "waking up an old injury", I get an email from the Boston Run to Remember, letting people know that, at bib pick-up, if they want to switch to the 5-mile course (which takes off at the same time), they can at no charge.

I woke up today feeling maybe 65% in my left knee. Not the agony I was in when I first injured it, but not exactly ready to do a cha-cha or any high kicks anytime soon. The type of 65% that tells me that I could easily run a 5-miler with only minor setbacks in healing -- but a 13.1 course would result in me potentially collapsing in pain by the 9-mile mark.

So while there is a really good chance that I'm still running this race, there is also a really good chance that, at bib pick-up, I'll be asking to switch over to the 5-mile.

Part of me is frustrated. Part of me is relieved. And part of me recognizes how funny it is that I consider "only running 5 miles" to be a downsize.

I mean, people train to run 5 miles. People train to run 5 kilometers. And I ran just a hair under 5K (and by "a hair" I mean I ran roughly 4) yesterday as a test run. Five miles used to be my "well I got to get some type of run in" distance, my "I haven't run in a few weeks so I should take it easy" run.

And now it's my "well I'm injured so I should probably take it easy" run.

I know that this sounds like a gigantic pat of the back for me, touting my oh-so-amazing athletic ability in comparison to those peasants with average levels of athleticism. But this is the type of pat on the back you give said athlete when they lose a close game. A, "there, there, let's focus on the positives." The consolation that, even though you aren't in the finals, you played one hell of a series and, hey, at the end of the day, you're still the Boston Bruins.

Hmm. Guess I still have the Bruins/Habs series on my mind.

And, like I said before, I recognize that running this race when I'm not 100% will most likely result in undoing some of the healing. And I've conceded that, after this race, I cannot even think about signing up for a race -- let alone train for one -- for a good, long while. Upwards of a month, maybe even two. Which throws the Chicago Marathon for an absolute loop (my goal was 20 miles by the end of June, so I could spend the hot summer months "taking it easy" before upping my game again in September).

I know this race is all I'm talking about right now, but, hey, it is what's on my mind, and I'm going to write about it. Because I still have roughly 80 more days for this blog and I can't wax philosophical on the human experience in every post.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Day 287 of 365: Just a Small Run

I went on my first run today: a meager one, especially compared to the potential 13.1 I might be doing this Sunday. I ran for roughly 2.5 miles at a moderate jog. I kept it easy, especially since it felt like I was turning rusty gears with my left knee (or, at least, I choose to believe it was like turning a set of rusty gears -- and not aggravating an injury). I got home, stretched like I was preparing for the Yoga Olympics (which is actually a thing, sadly enough), and took a super hot shower, praying to God I wasn't injured.

I'm a little sore, my knee certainly isn't at 100%, but I feel alright.

It's just a small run, but, for me, it's hope. I'm not too concerned with finishing the race; it's oddly reassuring that, of all the things I need to worry about, muscle fatigue really isn't on that list. Waking up old injuries and getting debilitating blisters? Yes. Fatiguing out? Nope. Especially not on this course, which ropes around Boston proper (and everyone knows that while Heartbreak Hill is heartbreaking, Boston-Boston is as flat as a pancake).

Last week, the temptation to quit was so huge. I thought about all the shit I could do. In reality, these were things I could do anyway, or at a later time; I was just zeroing in on them because it was easier than admitting how difficult this race could be for me.

I mapped out a fairly decent reintegration plan that will at least get my feet somewhat ready for the race. I'm willing to let go off running for a month or two after the race; I just want to cross that finish line next Sunday.

This might mean that the Chicago Marathon is out, which I'm less than thrilled about. The Boston Half Marathon is on the same weekend, so if I can't get my butt to Chicago, then at least I can be half-assed and run a half-marathon. This is all in the future; right now, all I need to do is make sure I'm healthy (or at least healthy enough) for next Sunday.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Day 286 of 365: The Lost Days of Oafishness

I'm apparently too stubborn for my own good. I went on a light jog that didn't outright suck, so I'm not ready to put myself out of the running just yet when it comes to, well, running. I also went on the half-marathon's website and saw where I would be running, which made me just that more pumped to run.

All this hullabaloo over my injuries and getting old made me think about all those aforementioned things that I had quit long ago: ballet in elementary school, track before I hit my junior year of high school. I think about how I spent years, my entire adolescence and then some, describing myself as "oafish" and "that tall, gangly one", much to the disarmingly ready agreement of my then-friends. I think about those years as an "oaf". I think about what changed between then and now and I realize that it's not just because I got more athletic, or because I started training more. It was because I got some self-esteem.

One of the nicest things about growing into my late twenties is that I've grown to have an appreciation for who I am and what I can do. I don't compare constantly the way I would as a teenager. I'm not measuring the width of my torso and weeping to myself because my torso is way wider than, say, Christina Aguilera's (which is humorous, given how today she's so voluptuous).

I spent a lot of my life assuming I was too awkward for my own good. In a cruel, ironic twist, because I felt so oafish, I never signed up for anything that required any athletic skill, because I assumed I would miss the mark, not realizing that I had so much athletic potential just waiting to be tapped into. And maybe -- just maybe -- if I had stuck it out with dance, or track, or had some type of mentor who would see past all the "oafish" statements and tell me to cut the self-pitying crap, maybe I would've stopped seeing myself in such a light at an earlier age.

So now it's my turn to tell myself to cut it with the self-pitying crap, to deal with injuries as they occur and not obsess over them, and to keep on keeping on. Yes, it's easy to see the benefits of dropping from this race: I can attend a UFC event with my friends, I can have the weekend to myself, I don't have to wake up at butt o'clock to make my way to Boston. But, like I talked about yesterday, there's a 37-year-old future me who is ready to shake me for bemoaning over my "old" state, the same way I want to shake my 17-year-old self for bemoaning over her "oafish" state.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Day 285 of 365: Charley Horse

From a medical standpoint, it makes perfect sense. From a life standpoint, it's some serious bullshit.

I've been dealing with a feeling like I had bruised the back of my right thigh for a few days now -- only there is no bruise. I couldn't help but laugh at the new monkey wrench being thrown into the machine, just as the back of my left knee has started to finally heal up. I told my husband (who tends to be my go-to medical guy, since his father is a doctor and, whatever information he didn't glean from his dad, he can get from calling up said dad) who said, "Sounds like a muscle sprain. And it makes perfect sense that it happened."

Apparently, when you injure one leg, you will very likely injure your other leg in some way while trying to compensate. So, while hobbling along with my left leg, doing my best not to injure it any further, I sprained a hamstring muscle.

Obviously this means that my 3-mile "can I do it?" run isn't happening today. I'm giving myself another chance; if I can run those three miles tomorrow, then I can try to actually get this half-marathon going again. But even in my most stubborn state, I recognize that I'll probably be sitting this one out as well. At least I spent a little extra money this time around and bought registration fee insurance, so, if I have to, at least I won't be eating a massive registration fee like before.

I think the most frustrating part about this is the realization that I'm no longer at my physical peak. I get injured now. A lot. And it takes a while to heal. I'm not the 16-year-old anymore who can eat pavement and be fine the next day. I get shin splints. I get achy backs. And it's really easy to be frustrated over the "wasted youth", as if I could go into a time machine and keep myself from quitting things like ballet and track.

But that's life, and you can't get attached to the things you know will end. You can't hope for things to never change when change is inevitable. That's, like, rule number one in life. So while I nurse both legs now, all I can do is recognize that what I have right now is a gift -- that 37-year-old me will look back on this time with the same longing that I look back on my potential physicality at 17 -- and keep on keeping on. Charley horse and all.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Day 284 of 365: A Line Break for Every Sentence

I know I'm incredibly lucky to have been able to get my stuff out the way that I have. Granted, it took a lot of work and a lot of rejection emails, but it's nice to say that I have had my stuff published in various formats and on websites that get a lot of traffic.

That being said, I can't help but shake my head at some of the editing choices.

Sometimes it's in the form of a click-bait-y title, or italicizing words I didn't italicize. Sometimes it's in the form of replacing perfectly good parentheses and semi-colons with hyphens (which strikes a nerve with me because I'm still trying to get over my own little obsession with the N-dash and I have an irrational annoyance over the M-dash). And sometimes it's watching my carefully constructed paragraphs become diced up snippets.

You've seen them before: every sentence essentially gets a line break, as if the world is so ADD that five whole sentences in a row will throw people for a tizzy. And I can't help but laugh. I already use an excessive number of line breaks when I write. Do we really need to make my small paragraphs even smaller?

In some ways, I don't mind it. I mean, whatever it takes to get people to read my shit (someone pointed out that I probably have reached somewhere around two to three million people with my writing, mostly through my two viral essays). I am still hoping to parlay this into getting a manuscript or two sold, so whatever it takes to build an audience.

In other ways, it bothers me. As evidenced by my opinion on N-dashes versus M-dashes, I have a very particular way of crafting my words. I have a very specific cadence and I have a very specific flow. I construct my paragraphs in a way that goes with that beat and dicing them up into "bite sized" portions is like chopping up a song into 10-second snippets, punctuated by a brief pause, lest you get too caught up in the music. It dumbs everything down and makes it look like my stream-of-conscious writing is even more stream-of-conscious-y than before -- like I was too hysterical to construct anything other than a string of random sentences, one for every line in my notebook.

However, I fully recognize that this is nothing more than a variation of the ubiquitous "creative differences" ranting of a writer. This type of stuff breaks up bands, gets lead writers fired, and forces movie production to come to a grinding hault. There are few things that get artists as defensive as when someone tries to fiddle with their shit. But, without those editors, those fellow writers, those people who are willing to say, "This should be changed," work would never evolve. We'd all turn in George Lucas, making Episodes 1 - 3 with Jar Jar Binks and remaking masterpieces so that Greedo shoots first. You have to imagine that the reason why such an empire (pardon the pun/throwback) became so mediocre was due to the fact that George Lucas was no longer around people who would argue about "his vision". He went from one visionary around many great creatives to the sole proprietor (I don't think it's coincidence that Empire and Jedi -- arguably the two best -- were directed by somebody other than George Lucas).

So, somehow this rant about editing became a rant about Star Wars. Apparently this chick's nerdom knows no bounds. How's that for hysterical stream-of-conscious-ing.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Day 283 of 365: Never Say Never

There is a hilarious Hal Sparks routine about the annoyance over, "Never say never." You hear it all the time, and, if you think about it, it's kind of the precursor to "YOLO". To quote Harl Sparks: "I hate when people say that. 'Never say never.' How do you know? 'Never say never!' I'll never fuck your mother."

In the midst of me no longer teaching -- the in midst of a friend of mine completing her last year as a high school teacher -- I had decided that I would never, ever, teach anyone but adults. And then a teacher at a private school contacted the studio I worked at, looking for a tai chi instructor to come in for a workshop.

Given that classroom enrollment has nose-dived since September (I went from at least four to five students a class to wanting to high five the world if I can get three to come in consistently), I decided to ignore my original vow and go for it. Yes, I'd be working with a classroom full of children (and, let's be real, even though we feel like adults as teenagers, we ain't. We so ain't), but it was only for an hour and ten minutes, and it was only a one-time deal. I went in, taught 16 or so high schoolers (plus two teachers who came in to try it out), and came out in one piece. I was nervous, I was a little shaky, I was sweating like a whore in church (or a former teacher in a high school), but, overall, it went pretty well. And I was invited to potentially do an encore class at some point in the future.

Now -- do not get me wrong -- this doesn't mean that I'll be throwing my teacher hat on anytime soon and hoping to make a comeback, this time as a high school teacher. But it's good to know that the possibilities don't have to be as limited as before. There's a world of difference between an hour class here and there and working full-time in a classroom. There's also a huge difference between being the guest speaker and being the actual teacher. If the demo class was any indication, I would be DOA before the school year ran out. It's exhausting, keeping the classroom energy going, making sure that those who are goofing off don't disrupt everyone else.

But I can't help think about how external our world has gotten. Especially "kids these days" don't take a moment to just be bored and let the brain wander. Everyone is either knee-deep in whatever pre-planned activities they (or their parents) set out for them -- or nose-deep in their phone. Things like tai chi and yoga are centering, a reminder that you have to bring that attention inward every once in a while.

High school is rough. You feel awkward in your own skin, you're constantly at odds with your friends, your relationships are just as dramatic as the stupid stuff on TV (perhaps even because of all the stupid stuff on TV) ... the last thing you want to do is learn something as foreign (figuratively and literally) as tai chi. But if they're willing to try it, I'm at least willing to try teaching it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Day 282 of 365: An Excuse to Cheat

"Stop Trying to Use "Monogamy is Unnatural" As An Excuse to Cheat"

I remember my first experience with cheating. A high school boyfriend had flagrantly cheated on me -- something I didn't find out about until after the relationship ended. I confronted him about it and he replied with, "Well, what do you want? Monogamy is unnatural, anyway."

How many times have we heard people -- from the average Joe to former A-list movie stars (I'm looking at you, Ethan Hawke) -- talk about the "unnatural" act of monogamy. How many times have been either cheated or put up with cheating, using that line as their excuse?

"Well, monogamy is unnatural, which means it is perfectly fine for me to vow to another human being that I will love only them, only to go off and have an affair with my co-worker."

I'm not here to say whether or not monogamy is unnatural. In the wild, some creatures pair up for life while other creatures pair up for 10 minutes and hope for the best. Where homo sapiens fall into that mix has been up for debate for quite a while now. Some point to the promiscuity of chimps -- both male and female -- and see it as proof that we are not naturally monogamous. Others are quick to point out that the behavior patterns of a distant cousin are not necessarily indicative of the natural behavioral patterns of modern man (the same way the behavior of "that cousin" in your family is no indication of how you act).

To be honest, I don't really care about debunking the "monogamy is unnatural" phenomena. From a evolutionary standpoint, it does make sense: those who slept around a lot were able either to pass on more of their genes or to procure a better set of resources (some believe female animals are promiscuous as a way of "hedging their bets", so to speak). Those who were monogamous were limited in how many offspring they could have. After a few millennia, the number of creatures who are "naturally monogamous" would dwindle and the number of creatures who are "naturally promiscuous" would soar.

But again, this is not why I'm writing this piece. I am not too concerned with the validity of monogamy as a natural phenomena. Because there is nothing we do in the modern world that is even remotely close to the concept of "natural". Climate controlled houses and automated vehicles are unnatural. Modern medicine is unnatural.

For crying out loud: agriculture is unnatural. But we don't seem to be losing our minds over our fields of grain just yet.

Saying that "monogamy is unnatural" is a feeble excuse -- the same way telling your boss that "working 9 to 5 in an office is unnatural" would be a feeble excuse for quitting. It's taking something that might possibly be true and using it to further whatever agenda you personally have going on. If you feel like working 9 to 5 is unnatural, you don't sign up for an office job in the first place. Or, you take the job, understanding that you can't just stop production on whim because you feel like playing the "unnatural" card.

And furthermore, there is one thing even more unnatural than promiscuity, something that is inherent regardless of your views on monogamy: the desire for those we are attracted to to be with only us.

Again, from an evolutionary standpoint, that makes perfect sense: if you are spreading your genes, why would you want your partner to be making offspring with someone else? If you are hedging your bets, why would you be okay with your partners doing the same thing with others? Being territorial, experiencing jealousy and feeling greedy are some of the most basic experiences as a human being. It's why jealousy is considered one of the biggest things to contend with in an open or polyamorous relationship. Because, at the end of the day, we have a hard time sharing.

So, what is it going to be? The unnatural act of monogamy or the unnatural act of being okay that your partner(s) are with someone else?

If you feel monogamy is right for you, do it. If you feel polyamory is right for you, do it. If you feel that whatever level of promiscuity or openness is right for you, do it. But do it understanding that it is your personal preference -- and attempting to be one or the other when you feel otherwise is levels and levels of not okay.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Day 281 of 365: Not Again

I mentioned a while back that I thought I had pulled a tendon in the back of my knee. It is quite possibly the most frustrating situation, because I don't feel it when I do 99% of my daily activities. But sometimes I'll land my foot weirdly when I walk or turn a corner awkwardly and I get an acute stab in the back of my leg, just to remind me that it's there.

And, oh yeah, I definitely feel it if I try to even jog.

My husband suggested that I might have a torn fascia. He also suggested that I might want to seek out a doctor who specializes in sports medicine (which actually shouldn't be that hard, given that Manch-Vegas has a good number of minor league teams).

So right now, the only exercise I'm doing is yoga and tai chi. The tai chi purely because I teach it, and there are certain moves I am doing with modifications (which is for the best, because my students sometimes see the unmodified moves and attempt to copy me, even when I tell them to do a variation). And the yoga purely because I'm an addict and because the stretching feels good and Dr. Internet said that, if the stretch feels good, stretch it out as much as you can.

I am frustrated beyond words. My half marathon is in two weeks and the idea of training myself to run it in under two hours is completely out the window now. In fact, I had to give myself a very specific timeline: if I can't run three miles without any injury by this coming Saturday, then I have to pull from the race.

All I can say is, "Not again." I had to pull from the Derry 16-Miler thanks to the limitations of weather and injury. The idea of pulling from a second race really, truly bothers me, especially since I thought I'd be much farther along in my marathon training. I wanted to have hit 20 miles before summer hit, and I've done half that.

I know it's silly to bemoan "only" running 10 miles, but I've never been one to set proper goals for me. And, usually, that works out. Be audacious enough to think she can work for an agency; get signed. Decide being a published author is worth all the headaches and frustrations; publishes an ebook through a popular magazine company. But sometimes it backfires on me. Get signed to an agency; be frustrated that she cannot land any steady work. Publish an ebook; still unsatisfied because she has two and three-quarters manuscripts that cannot get sold.

My biggest fear is that I'll have to give up on running completely, especially if it's a fascia tear and it doesn't heal properly. Which means the Chicago Marathon and the Boston Marathon will become pipe dreams. But that's getting ahead of myself. Not only to a set unnecessarily high goals, but I automatically turn to the worst possible consequence.

All I can do is focus on healing, refrain from any high-impact training, and hope for the best. And if that can't happen, at least I had the foresight to purchase the "running fee protection" plan in case I have to pull from the race (and I don't feel like eating the registration fee).

Monday, May 12, 2014

Day 280 of 365: The Best Major for a Writer

I've been thinking a lot about college in general: about the future of higher education, about the frustrating concept that college is now the place to reverse the damage created by an overly-standardized public education system, about what the end goal is to a college education these days (especially since so many schools -- especially the tier-1 schools like MIT, Harvard, Yale, etc -- put their coursework and syllabi online for free so anyone can audit).

I also started thinking about "going to college for writing".

I don't mean, "going to college to improve one's grammar, spelling, and syntax." Which everyone should do. I'm of the belief that everyone should, bare minimum, take an English 101 course after high school and learn how to actually write a sentence. There is no reason why, in this day and age, with spellcheck now part of our internet browsers, that we should be doing stupid shit like spelling ridiculous with an "e". But that's a rant for a later time.

I'm talking about people who go to college to major in something that will help them as a fiction writer. The typical go-to is the English major (which I ain't knocking; let me dust off my own English degree here and display it real quick). And, why not? Read and study major works of literature and maybe you can pick up on what previous writers were able to do.

But I decided that there's a better set of majors if you want to be a writer. If you want to write fiction, major in psychology or sociology.

Maybe I'm saying that because my second area of study was sociology. No, actually, I am saying that because my second area of study was sociology. Because I saw the overlap time and time again in both fields -- so much so that I remember taking Sociology of Boston alongside Survey of American Writers and found myself learning about Anne Bradstreet twice, and for essentially the same reason. Because, once the professor is done prattling on about symbolism and rhetoric, the meat of the work in front of you rests on motivation. Why did that character do that thing. Why did this group of characters do that thing. What was going on during that particular time that would motivate the writer to write about that character doing that thing. Context, context, context.

In my experience, the worst bits of writing come when the characters do incredulous things. When they suddenly go for Option A when no regular person would even glance at it. The books that left the worst tastes in my mouth were the ones were the resolutions came out of no where and the characters at large essentially went, "Okay, cool."

On the flipside, the best bits of writing always point out or demonstrate a very real aspect of being human. Something about how we behave on an individual or on a group level. Something about what motivates us to do the things we do, the think the way we think, and what those consequences might be.

At the end of the day, you can't dissect a piece of fiction without turning into a micro-psychologist or micro-sociologist. Talking about symbolism and analogy only gets you so far -- even in things like poetry, where the emphasis is usually on the "pretty words" and the symbolism. To get a good idea of what is going on, you need to have some understanding of what makes us tick.

...Especially when we're talking about villains in a work of fiction. I know this is personal preference, but I love it when the lines between "the good guy" and "the bad guy" get blurred -- because that's humanity for you. No one is 100% good or bad. It's all a matter of context, of the situation, of motivation, and of how it is perceived by other people.

So that's my rant about what to study if you are looking to become a better writer. To be a compelling novelist, you also have to be a compelling sociologist. Unless you're Stephenie Meyer. Then you just have to be a Mormon who had a dream about sparkly vampires.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Day 279 of 365: Pobrecito

Editor's note: this is very much a rough draft that I wrote today. I wasn't exactly sure where I was going with this. I simply woke up with the first sentence of this story in my head and I did the nosey writer thing of asking why the narrator was called that. This is what I got from today's writing session.

She used to call me pobrecito.

She was of Polish descent, but her neighbors were from Venezuela. Her eyes lit up when she talked about Mamá Fernández and Papá Fernández, about their daughter, who had become her best friend when they were both around three years old. She always had a story about her "second family", her mouth blossoming into the widest smile I had ever seen. Stories about hijinx, stories about extended family members visiting America, stories about meals so intricate and vast that she thought she'd burst. She'd get so caught up sometimes that she'd lapse into Spanish, talking about this or that event from her childhood.

When I found out her father died when she was eight, she simply shrugged her shoulders and said, "That's life. It ends."

One of the things that drew me to her was her sarcastic wit. No one was spared from her quips. She'd dramatically pout her lips and go, "Ah, pobrecito. Lo siento," whenever I had any type of complaint or mentioned any type of setback. I'd ask her what she had said and she'd reply with, "I said, 'I'm sorry you fell asleep during Spanish in high school.'"

I watched the way she would spin whatever someone was saying into innuendo, facetiously pushing away other men's shoulders or knees. For all our conversations, she never did that with me. When I got the most jealous, when my own smile would become like a snarl as she joked with another person or shrugged off a guy's only-semi-joking suggestion to become his wife, I would tell myself that she had this border with me as a safety measure. Like she was afraid of making a comment that would cross into a different set of territories and reveal more than she was ready to reveal.

I found out about her father years later, sometime after we had started sleeping together -- after splitting away from a group outing one evening and letting one thing lead to another, with me never knowing if she was going along for the ride or orchestrating the whole thing; after waking up the morning after and hearing her warn that she wasn't looking for anything serious. It was Father's Day, and I was busy frying bacon in my kitchen as she strolled around the house, cell phone pressed to her temple. She downright sang into the phone; I couldn't tell if it was just the language or the way she let the words dance and twirl as she laughed and rolled her eyes to nobody in particular. She ended her called with, "Te quiero mucho, Papá. Te quiero mucho," and downright waltzed into the kitchen.

"Is breakfast ready?" she asked, her elbows propped against my kitchen counter.

"Not for a while, actually," I replied. "I guess I assumed you had more phone calls to make -- that you would call your dad up before breakfast as well."

"I did call my dad," she replied, her voice completely devoid of the melody from just minutes before.

"Oh, I'm...I'm sorry, I guess I didn't..." I stammered, bacon burning right in front of me. "That was rude of me. I just assumed..."

"My biological father died when I was eight," she interjected, as if she were reciting a line from a History Channel special, informative but disconnected.

"My God, Rosalind...I'm so sorry..."

She shrugged her shoulders as if I had been apologizing over her missing a train or a meeting.

"Don't be," she replied, looking up at me eyes that were dark in a way I had never seen before.

"That's life. It ends."

She still called me pobrecito and still shied away from the more inappropriate remarks -- as if she were now afraid that making such a comment would reveal the truth to everyone around us. I asked her why she kept calling me pobrecito -- "poor thing", as I eventually learned -- and she said, "Because, when you complain, no matter how big or small it is, it sounds like it's a second way from ruining your life. You have a flair for the dramatic."

I had spent so many years assuming she was always single, never without a man -- that the attention she got when she walked into a room was more than sufficient and spent her time alone as a result. I slowly realized that I couldn't have been more wrong -- that how she was with me was probably how she was with a million other men before. Together, but not. Casual, but steady. Nothing, but everything.

It took learning that her own father had died to make me realize that there was a reason why I knew so much about her "second family" but absolutely nothing about her biological family. She'd mention a sister from time to time. She would tell a story about her best friend -- "mi hermana" -- and perhaps add in a cameo from her actual family -- "my older sister" or "my mother" -- the words hanging in the air as if she had only learned the words the day before. Most of her stories involving her older sister were from when she was young. Any stories from her teenaged years and onward showed no sign of that sister.

I tried to balance it out with stories about my own family. I talked about my own mother, my little sister. I talked about my own father, and how I knew what it was like, to lose a parent. Mine had died just a few years prior, from cancer.

"No, it's different," she'd say distantly.

"How so?" I pressed, finding myself oddly defensive that she was so quick to remove my experience from the same category as hers.

She shrugged again.

"It just is."

I complained about my mother exactly once. It happened when my mother called me while I was driving around with Rosalind. I answered my twenty questions, assured her twice that I loved her, and hung up, laughing as I shook my head from side to side, saying how my mom still can't admit I'm grown up, that she just tries to mom me from a thousand miles away.

"Aye, pobrecito," she downright whispered, her eyes glued to the passenger window. Her words lacked the flavor and tone that I had grown so used to. I never mentioned anything again.

For that first year, I forced myself to believe that what we had was more than enough. And I mean, why not? I had spent so long wanting to do more than a friendly pat on the shoulder. I spent so long wishing I could just adjust a piece of hair along the nape of her neck, wishing I could turn my head toward her and stay just a moment longer when we hugged. I spent so long wanting such little scraps that what I had landed was a feast in comparison. I forced myself to believe that there was an unwritten rule; that, even though we were not serious, we were something -- a something that was held sacred at least on some level.

I have analyzed and overanalyzed that sacred "nothing" a million times at this point, pinpointing exactly where things went wrong or exactly where things could've gone right. When the dust had settled and I was left with nothing but a broken heart, I immediately went to "daddy issues". Of course things couldn't work out: how could she carry my heart when both hands were wrapped tightly around such baggage? That was the easiest explanation. The injustice was clear as day to me: she had opened up to me, slowly unraveling the truth about her addict of a father, her sister who had fallen down the same path, her mentally fragile mother. She showed a side to herself that felt so vulnerable and raw, something that she couldn't have possibly shown to the other men who dance alongside her and gaze back at her for just a little too long. It was all figured out for me back then. I had everything defined so neatly that I couldn't accept that it might be messier -- or simpler -- than that.

We were at the movies at one point, one of our rare outings with just the two of us. In a similar turn of events like just a few months before, a mother had called while we were in my car. She answered the phone in English, her voice soft and patient like a nurse working with an invalid, asking questions in a way that would make anyone feel calm, even if the questions were things like, "What did Dr. Novak say about your dosage?"

I took a left instead of a right, looping around the city instead of going straight to the theatre. When she hung up, I blurted out, "You never talk about your mother."

I got met with one of her infamous shrugs.

"What is there to say?"

"Well, she's your mother," I pressed, my mind trying to wrap around what the previous phone call could've meant. "I mean, she raised you."

She sighed and looked at me with eyes that were way older than anyone's I had ever seen before.

"I love her, and she is the sweetest lady I have ever known," she spoke clearly. "I don't think there is a malice bone in her entire body. But, at the end of the day, Mamá Fernández raised me. End of story."

"I don't understand. Was she not around?" I found myself saying, not getting why I was pressing forward the way I was.

"You could say that," she replied. "I found that growing up was a lot easier -- that forgiving her for everything had happened was easier -- if I didn't view her the way society told me to."

I kept silent until we got to the theatre. I stepped forward to the cashier, buying two sets of tickets like a man out on a proper date, and offered to get us popcorn. When she refused, we went straight to our seats. She sat in the spot next to me that already had the armrest separating the two seats lifted up, creating a bit of a loveseat by the screen. She crossed and then uncrossed her legs before settling on crossing her arms and shifting forward in her seat. I left my hands rest by my side, my right hand slowly drifting closer to her left leg.

"How did your father die?" I blurted into the silence, the back of my hand now tentatively resting against her thigh, waiting for the moment when she'd cross her legs again and become the creator a new set of space.

"Liver cirrhosis," she replied flatly. She sat back in her seat, her arm now pressed against mine. I felt the heat against my bicep and felt a shiver race up my spine.

"I'm so sorry."

"Why?" She turned to me, her arm now against the back of her chair, my arm suddenly cold.

"Because..." I began, nervously licking my lips, staring at the floor, wondering how I could word how I felt about my own father's passing without turning the conversation over to me.

"Please stop apologizing for my father's death. Because I am not," she said slowly, the vibrations of her voice resonating around and against my heart. "He was a good man with a bad addiction. He could not overcome it, and it overcame him. It happened when I was old enough to know it wasn't my fault and young enough that his behavior had had only a small influence on me. There are worse situations to find yourself in."

Somewhere in the second year of whatever it was that we were, I had decided that she was slowly unraveling around me, showing that vulnerable side to her that the rest of the world never saw, a world that never fully made the connection between the funny & witty and the broken. I kept an ear out for whenever she would talk about her biological family.

Looking back, I don't know what I was expecting. I guess part of me felt like, if I pressed hard enough, if I dug deep enough, she would collapse into tears, with me there to catch her before she hit the ground. Some days I would fantasize about her revealing just how much it hurt her to have had such an unstable upbringing, the same time she would reveal just how deep her love was for me, and how afraid she was to admit it given all her damage.

Or maybe I genuinely believed that what she was telling me were deep, dark secrets. I would hear a rumor about her and someone, anyone -- a guy from work, a friend of a friend, whoever -- and decide that he didn't know about her family life, that he didn't hear the words drain of emotion when she talked about her biological family.

As far as I knew, I was the only one she'd facetiously call pobrecito.

With nearly half a decade between then and now, it's safe to say I see things differently. I used to pinpoint one particular day as that day she broke my heart without any provocation. I then pinpointed that day as the day that I blew it. Now I recognize that this was just how things were going to turn out eventually. It's just that it ended up happening in a more explosive manner.

It started out because of the pit of jealousy in my stomach. I had developed a downright compulsive ear for any possible outing with her and any other man. The newest one seemed to get at me in a way that I couldn't properly quell, like this particular rumor brought out the most territorial side of me. I found myself saying things in ways I never meant to say and almost watched from the sidelines as the conversation built up and up.

"I told you a long time ago that I wasn't looking for anything serious," she said, her arms crossed.

"Look around you!" I cried out. "We've been doing this for two years. 'Casual' went out the door a long time ago."

In my mind, my word had hit her square in the chest, forcing her to blink away tears and show a different type of vulnerability, a side I hadn't seen before but swore it was there, somewhere.

"Maybe for you," she replied solemnly.

"Can you see what this is?" I continued. "It's not fair for us that you keep me at arm's length like this."

"Who said I was keeping you at arm's length?" she asked.

"I'm sorry that there was so much going on when you were a child, but it is not fair to refuse love because of it," some part of me -- the part of me that was in control of quelling my jealousy -- said.

Again, in my mind, this would have been the part where she broke down and admitted how much it hurt to try to love. In some alternative universe, this would have been the beginning of our deep bond, a relationship where I saved the day and she gave me a new lease on life. The type of intricate love that people only read about. It would've been like the movies, where the main character saves the offbeat girl and the offbeat girl helps the main character find true meaning in his life.

"I think this needs to be over," she replied, shaking her head the same way a teacher shakes her head at a failing student. "This has gone on long enough."

Something in me ignited and suddenly I was in even less control of myself than I was before.

"Is that it?" I shouted, my hands flung in the air, my arm muscles rigid and unforgiving. "That's how it's going to be then, huh? It's because I'm not broken too, isn't it? Because I had a good childhood with good parents and a good life and I can't ever know what it was like for you, huh. Because my father's death is not as tragic as your father's death and my issues will never be as tragic as yours."

"No," she replied coolly. "But that right there -- the fact that you just said all that -- is part of the reason." She looked me up and down before adding: "I am not a tragedy, and my past is not to be fetishized."

I found out that she had gotten married three or so years later, to a guy she had met through a client at work. Before I had broken away from our group of friends, she brought him out to meet everyone almost as soon as they had started dating. Back then, I consoled myself by saying that I had been the lesson that she had needed to learn about love. I wasn't ready to admit that maybe, just maybe, we were nothing serious, and she never had any intention of having things get as far as I wanted them to.

I ran into them recently. It was the first time in years, especially since she got engaged. It was an innocent as being in the same aisle at the same grocery store at the same time. The man had a slight French accent about him, talking quietly to Rosalind as they scanned a shelf. I was half tempted to turn around and leave the aisle, but she caught my staring before I could move.

"Well, hey there, stranger," she said, turning to me, her hand reflexively touching her belly. "How have you been?"

"Oh, you know, the usual," I said. In a flash, I imagined me mentioning the issues at work, if only to watch her pout her lips, place her hands to her heart, and go, "Oh, pobrecito. Lo siento." Instead, I said: "Overall, through, pretty good. How about you?"

"Oh, you know." She looked down and moved her hand in a circular motion around her torso, emphasizing a small bump that I hadn't noticed before.

"Oh wow, congratulations," I replied, doing my best to look both her and her husband in the eye when I said this.

"Thanks," she said. "It's been interesting. I've learned the hard way that 'morning sickness' doesn't exactly mean it'll only happen in the morning."

"Aww, pobrecito," I said, my hands dramatically to my heart.

"Your accent is terrible," she replied with a roll of her eyes and a slight grin. "And also, it would be pobrecita. Unless you're calling me a man."

All I could do was smile at her, wishing I could maybe tuck a lock of hair behind her hair and place my hand on her shoulder, my thumb rubbing the nape of her neck.

"Besides, I'll be fine. Nothing a little ginger ale can't fix," she added, looking up at her husband with a warmth that I had once seen only when talking about Mamá and Papá Fernández.

"Anyway, we have to get going, but it was good running into you."

"And likewise."

She slipped her hand into her husband's -- Michael, I want to say his name was? -- and walked past us. I turned around to watch her disappear down the aisle. In my mind, she would look back one last time before turning the corner. A look that would encapsulate all the love, the regret, the longing that I prayed she felt all this time.

But then again, that is where my problem will always lie. In my mind, I fell in love with the girl with the sharp tongue and incredible stories. From the moment I met her, I regarded her as this infallible entity, clearly meant to be with me. That girl became the broken one -- the girl that couldn't love me because of her past. I built up this fictional character in my mind to the point that I believed it wholeheartedly. And I believed that all I needed to do was do the right things, say the right things, probe into her past in just the right way, for everything to work out for me. I had decided that the girl I was in love with sang in Spanish and cried in English and eventually she would need me to be a translator. I was too busy labeling her the pobrecita that I missed seeing the woman in her entirety in front of me.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Day 278 of 365: Kitchen Table and the Empty House

One of the unwritten rules about owning a house for the first time is -- unless you're buying a very small house or are a supreme hoarder -- there will be a bit of emptiness to it. We were practically spilling out of our two-bedroom apartment; we had bought furniture with a more long-term mindset, which meant buying a couch that awkwardly fit our living room area and having our vast collection of books proudly on display in the guest room. We went into house hunting praying we'd find The Right House on our first round, because God help us if we had to renew our contract.

Within three months, we found The Right House and moved in. Some rooms -- like that living room with furniture that actually fit in it -- filled up nicely. Other rooms were downright sparse. Our dining room had zero furniture in it. Count it: zero pieces of furniture. I set up a our side table as well as card table draped with a tablecloth to keep things looking a little cohesive.

Meanwhile our actual dining room table was in the kitchen area. Our dining room table -- a gift from my in-laws after our wedding -- is a lovely, maple table that can expand out in a way to give everyone elbow room at Thanksgiving. And it has absolutely no place in the kitchen.

I never thought I'd be one of those people who actually held opinions about what style of furniture went where, but, now that we had the room to do it, I could see how our table was way too ornate to be considered a kitchenette table. But we weren't all to concerned at first: I mean, we had the monstrous task of actually getting settled into the house and figuring out how to juggle what seemed like 5 or 6 major payment plans (house, new car, two sets of tuition, rent on an empty apartment, payments for all the bells & whistles & services that go into making a house a home).

Once things seemed to be smoothed out a bit (minus a broken well pump, which I am still in sticker shock over...), I finally felt like I could start looking for a proper kitchen table. Being the Type A personality that I am, I already had an exact type of table in mind and I refused to compromise on a single aspect. After a few months, I found exactly what I was looking for, and at a steal, too.

One of the chairs looks like it's on its last legs (har har...) and it might need another coat of varnish, but it is exactly the table meant for this house. This is the part where I wax philosophical about something flawed being perfect for what you need, or something, but, really, this whole post has been more quasi-diary-ish anyway, so...yeah.

Regardless, I'm thrilled with finally having a kitchen table (and finally having furniture in our dining room). Time to put away the card table. Because, much like putting lipstick on a pig, putting a tablecloth on a card table does not make it a lady ... or a table. Or something. I need to start thinking these posts out better.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Day 277 of 365: Time Limit on Writing

Last night, I had a dream that I suffered from sort of mortal wound. I did not dream about getting it, and I did not dream about what it was, but I had some wound in my torso that spelled a soon death. I was able to get some type of surgery to delay the inevitable, but I still didn't have long.

In this dream, I only had one concern: "I'm going to die soon and I didn't even finish my third manuscript yet."

I think that should give you an idea as to where my mind is right now.

I'm creeping along and a downright snail's pace through the last few chapters of my book. I maybe have 20,000 words to go, but I swear I'm going to need 20,000 days to get it done. And, apparently, it's weighing on my mind enough that I am starting to fret about dying before I finish it.

I refuse to query for my first manuscript again until I finish the third. This also gives me time to sell a few more copies of my ebook. But it's meant to force me to actually finish this, because there are few things that frustrate me more than an unfinished project.

The biggest thing is letting go of that need to have the passages be perfect. I already know there are three or four major changes I need to make -- scenes that need to be added or rewritten, characters who have to be changed around -- and instead of letting that give me the freedom to just write, I'm using it as something to drag me down.

So I guess I have no choice to, once again, force myself to write, even if it's just a little bit, every day, until the book is done. I found that I can't do a "page a day" deadline, because it limits me both ways (if I write more than one page a day, I feel like I'm accidentally overdoing myself; also, on days when I don't feel like writing, I really don't feel like writing a whole page, so I don't even try). But if I can just write something -- a sentence, a bit of dialogue, even an idea or two -- then I'll be on the right path. And if I can write more, awesome.

Because -- really -- who knows what's going to happen in the future. I could get that mortal wound in my torso. We do live in interesting times.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Day 276 of 365: So Far for a Go-See

Usually my go-sees take place in Boston. Part of me tries to keep my Boston time within very specific parameters (in after 10 a.m., out before 2:30 p.m.) because traffic in the Boston area around anything even remotely close to rush hour is horrendous. But still, I'll make sure to get into Boston early and arrive late: the go-see might take up a whopping 10 minutes of my time, and I'll probably spend an additional two hours just enjoying my city.

Today, I had a go-see in Framingham, of all places.

The go-sees that are in the suburbs are simultaneously easier and harder. They're quicker, because I can drive directly there, instead of parking outside of the city and taking the T in. But they're also quicker because I'm in and out. I don't stick around to enjoy all of Framingham; I just get back in the car and go, with maybe a detour at a Dunkie's.

On days like today, I don't mind it. Get some good music on the radio, open up the sunroof (after the go-see, of course, because you never want to mussy up your hair beforehand), and just have a fun time, even though you are spending a combined total of 3 hours in a car for a go-see that will last you ten minutes on the absolute outside.

But still, so far for such a small amount of time. You really have to have faith that the payoff is worth it, be it in experience or landing the actual job itself (this go-see had walk-in hours of 8 to 2 p.m., with plenty of people coming in. I'm not delusional enough to think I'll land this sucker). For now, it's no problem, since most of my work, aside from my tai chi classes, is pretty fluid and can be done at any time and from anywhere. But who knows what will happen down the line.

This is a whole lot of rambling that is essentially going nowhere, but, hey, what can I say: my brain is frazzled from dealing with both 95 and the Mass Pike.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Day 275 of 365: Outside Meditation

I've been trying to do "coffee yoga" as a daily thing, but it has definitely fallen by the wayside over the last couple weeks. I think about all the stuff I need to get done and I can't convince my brain that certain emails can wait, that certain bits of homework can wait, that life in general can wait until I give myself a whopping five minutes to sit and drink coffee and just breathe.

The weather has been consistently nice enough that we've brought out our patio chairs to our porch. Today, I decided to force myself outside this morning. I would love to say that being outside in nature on a tenderly brisk morning was all I needed and I got lost in the reverie, but, really, I still chugged my coffee like it contained the antidote. I got a few moments of pause in but I eventually got too antsy and brought myself back inside to make this and that phone call, fill out this and that cell in an Excel spreadsheet, and so on, and so forth.

If anything, it was a reminder that I do not need to be inside for everything. I can bring my laptop out and do whatever it is that I need to do outside. I can mull over whatever it is I need to mull over while going on a walk (especially a nature walk, since right now is the only time you can walk in my woods without being attacked by mosquitos). It's not going to be as simple as, "I'm outside and suddenly I'm zen," but a change of pace is always welcomed. It was enough to get me to take 4 or 5 deep, slow breaths, and that's 5 breaths more than I would've typically had on any given morning.

Today my husband and I drive all the way up to Belmont (which is north of Concord, so thar be dragons) to look at some more furniture for our house. Best believe my windows will be down, sunroof opened, enjoying this rare spring weather while it is still here.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Day 274 of 365: Just Not Caring

So photographer and old friend of mine, who relocated to New York sometime before I left Boston, decided to do a road trip around New England. One of his stop-offs was in my little town. We were able to explore the abandoned convenience store as well as the collapsed barn (and the far-more-legal park by the electric plant). We talked about what we were expecting from the shoot, and he replied with that he's been so burned out by the photography world that he doesn't even care if the images come out great. At this point, it's just about the experience and enjoying the day.

I was thinking about that with my tai chi class tonight. I can only describe what has happened over the last few months as bang and bust. I went for a long period where my classes were surprisingly full, where all I did was email people, answering their questions about tai chi.

And then ... bust.

I've been riding this wave for almost 9 months now. Classes going great at one yoga studio ... it goes out of business. Classes build up in new places ... and one of those places just falls through completely. Lots of students enrolling ... and now only one or two regulars.

At the end of the day, I cannot focus so much on the result of getting students. I'll burn myself out. Especially as a new teacher, I need to focus on the experience and learning how to conduct my class to the best of my abilities.

As a tai chi instructor, I've changed how I run my classes so many times at this point. From the verbiage to the whole format and timing. Now is the perfect time to test out new ways of running the class, when I only have a few people as my audience. Worrying about drawing so many students is as silly as worrying about how the images will come out.

So, like the photo shoot, I enjoyed today for exactly what it is. I practiced a new way of teaching a certain move that I hadn't tried before, I got to explore some parts of my town that I hadn't before, and I genuinely had a good time. Images and enrollment forms be damned.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Day 273 of 365: How to Handle Being a Social Introvert

Introversion and extroversion have to be some of the most confusing terms out there. "Introversion" and "introspection" or "nonconfrontational-ism" get used interchangeably. Extroversion is seen as constantly seeking out social situations and introversion is seen as constantly shying away from social situations. Extroversion is seen as being exciting and entertaining while introversion is seen as being a thoughtful observer.

I see introversion and extroversion the same way Carl Jung saw the two concepts: what makes you one or the other is based on how you get your energy. Do you feel energized by being around people or do you feel energized by being alone?

I consider myself a social introvert. I get my energy from being alone, but I crave social situations. I love being out and around people, but I find it incredibly draining. This can attribute to some level of quietness -- when it takes so much energy to talk to people, why would I do small talk? -- but a quiet person isn't necessarily an introvert.

As you can imagine, this is incredibly frustrating. I thrive on being alone -- I can't tell you how many times I've told my husband "I've run out of social" when being out for too long -- but it's not as fulfilling as engaging with a group. Likewise, if I'm out and around people for too long, I become downright antisocial, with no energy to even smile in response to whatever someone is saying.

So it's all about finding that balance, never spending too much time alone and never spending too much time around people. Which is not exactly easy. Sometimes you don't get a choice in whether or not you are around people, whether or not you are alone for extended periods of time. But there still has to be that balance.

I think the only thing more frustrating than a social introvert is an asocial extrovert, who craves being alone but gets their energy being around people. And even then, it's all about the balance. As the hardcore yogis would say, the sthira and the sukha.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Day 272 of 365: Taking it Slow

I have a half marathon coming up in three weeks. And I have a pulled hamstring tendon.

I originally injured myself during an intense yoga class. We were doing a certain stretch that I've always had issues with (namely, my back hunches over). The instructor suggested I reach out and to the side before lowering, which resulted in a twang in the back of my left knee. It honestly felt like someone snapped a very thick guitar string against the inside of my knee. The pain was minor, I backed out of the pose, and I went on with my day.

The next day, I go on a 6-mile run, and notice that my left leg has no interest in extending as much as the right leg. By the time I get back, that tendon that went twang the day before was sore as all hell. But I felt a little better the next day, so I went on with my usual routine. On Friday, I ran 9.5 miles with one of the best paces I've had in a while. However, by mile 5, I knew something was up with my knee. I ignored it and finished up the last 4.5 miles.

Saturday morning, I was limping.

I told my best friend that I was injured. When I told her what happened, she responded with, "Taking it slow was never your forte."

It never has been, plain and simple. I've gotten a lot better at it, now that I'm not teaching and I have the opportunity to only work part-time. But I still go way faster than I should. I pride myself on multitasking (I used to prattle on about planning a wedding in 9 months while a ton of other shit going on to anyone who would listen). I pride myself on accomplishing as much as I can accomplish; in making people shake their heads and go, "How in the world does she do that."

Our culture does not value taking it slow. We only value slow cookers because it means food will be instantly ready for us to eat the second we get home from a long day away. We value efficiency and speed and getting the most bang for your buck.

For the first time in a long, long while, I took it incredibly easy during yoga (which I had to go to, regardless of what had happened on Friday, because every day-long session starts out with a yoga class. Gone were my jump backs and jump throughs and crazy transitions. I actually gave myself that space to, I don't know, heal from a major injury. And it was probably one of my most fun yoga classes to date.

I'm taking the week off from running, even though every fiber of my being hates the idea of not just dealing with the pain for 3 more weeks and handling the injury after the half marathon. Because sometimes you just have to take it easy.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Day 271 of 365: Writing Fatigue

So here I am, the final lap of this writing endeavor. The number of posts left to write had dwindled down to the double digits. I'm so close, I can taste it. And today, I had the biggest desire to just say, "Fuck it."

It happens: some days are really busy for me and, to be frank, if I can't get it done in the morning, it's like hell to get it accomplished. Today was another day-long class session. On my drive back home, I thought about what I had to do once I got home: get started on some of the homework, nurse my pulled hamstring tendon that I got while running way too many miles yesterday (but more on that later), make dinner, and write an entry in this puppy.

And one little thought decided to crawl its way out of the cesspool of suck in the back of my mind and go, "Or, you could just skip it. You got close enough, right?"

The "close enough" attitude loves to rear it's ugly little head during pivotal moments, like when I ran my half marathon ("Woah, ten whole miles! That's a lot! Say, why don't you walk a few? Close enough!") or when I'm writing my third manuscript ("Look at all those words! Over 60,000 words! Why right more? Call it a day!"). Today, it decided to go against this project.

I've said it a million times before, but sometimes it really is a challenge to keep this going. Some days, I am just exhausted -- physically, mentally, emotionally -- and the last thing I want to do is prattle on for a few paragraphs. Sometimes, I get an idea stuck in my head and that day's post is the easiest I've ever done. But that has been happening with less and less frequency.

But hey, here I am, plodding out a post. A post about how I almost didn't write a post, but a post all the same. Because there are few things I hate doing more than abandoning projects. I see things through to the bloody end, if only because I'm too stubborn to know when to quit.

Much like my writing career in general. You'd think after over 200+ rejections from agency directors and literary magazines alike, I'd give it up already. But I keep on keeping on, because slowing down has never been my forte.

And on that note, I'm off to make dinner. Because I swore to myself after we moved to the house that I'd actually Learn How to Adult and make real meals for dinner -- which I've been good about, 9 times out of 10. The other time -- which usually happens if my husband is playing hockey that night and I'll be eating dinner by myself -- involves a lot of potato chips and whatever is in the fridge.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Day 270 of 365: The Absurdity of Looking Back

There are two main obstacles getting between me and finishing my third manuscript:

1) The overwhelming understanding that these last three chapters are where all the good shit goes down. Everything else has been a 200+ page setup for the final showdown, the fallout, and the resolution. If this were a run, this would be Heartbreak Hill: so close to the end, but your tank is on empty and you got an uphill climb ahead of you.

2) My overwhelming sense of perfectionism. If you read this blog with any level of attention, the idea of me being a perfectionist is probably hilarious (what is up, constant grammatical errors and homophone mixups. The joys of writing first thing in the morning when your body hasn't even absorbed your caffeine yet). This affects #1 a bit as well, but it is such a monster in and of itself that it deserves its own bullet point.

The biggest hurdles my perfectionism has created is the recognized need for editing. As I'm writing these perilous last three chapters, I'm already seeing parts of the story that will need additions, deletions, or complete rewrites in order to form a more cohesive story. And part of me wants to put on the brakes and go back for the rewrites.

If we're continuing the running metaphor, that right there is essentially stopping the racing to rerun a route. It just doesn't make sense. You can't get what you need to get done, done, if you are constantly looking back. The only thing I can do is look forward, finish this damn manuscript (which is starting to feel like a marathon run) and then go back. The same way runners will revisit course routes and running times and see where they can improve.

Ask any novelist: writing a novel is the most exciting, frustrating, confusing, debilitating thing you can do. It doesn't matter if you're on manuscript #1 or manuscript #101 (well, if you're hanging out with the likes of Stephen King with your 100+ manuscripts, maybe you have it down pat by now). While my previous manuscripts have given me a better sense of flow and arc, I'm still slashing my way through the woods with absolutely no idea exactly how I'm getting out. And it doesn't make any sense to go back and reroute certain trails in this metaphorical woods. Get out, take a breath, and then see what needs tweeking.

My gut is telling me that this manuscript is going to be worth the trouble it has been and will continue to cause me. But then again, my gut told me it was okay to send a manuscript to a potential employer today without rereading it, only to see that I had misspelled the person's name. My gut is a bit of a prick, so take that as you will.