Friday, September 14, 2018

I Want It Now

I have a recurring dream where my son is home for a visit from prison but has morphed into a toddler. This happened last night (in my dream, not literally) and husband and I were taking turns tending to his toddler needs. In my mind the entire time was "Will he grow up again before he has to return to prison? Because I am concerned about his ability to survive there as a toddler." I awake from these dreams with a combination of malaise and contentment. Spending some time with my son before prison, before meth, before dropping out of school, before he gave up on life is nice. Even if it is just a weirdo movie in my brain.

Speaking of "Lost Boys", I have a hankering to watch this movie again. The best viewing of this movie for me was with my eldest daughter on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk on the beach on a big screen with the smell sea water and cotton candy and corn dogs and piss and the roar of approval the crowd gave (SPOILER ALERT) when grandpa staked the vampire.

Speaking of vampires, when we were 12 or 13, one of my best girlfriends and I would use "vampire" as code for someone who sucked the life blood out of us. In retrospect, I no longer believe people do this on purpose. Maybe, like vampires, they had their own life blood sucked, then that person forced them to do some reciprocal life-force draining and then they transformed into demons who make life miserable for everyone. For introverts, vampires can be exhausting as we are always trying to fix their broken souls, only to have to send them violently to a hell dimension when they cross a line by trying to hurt someone else that we love.

Speaking of love, nothing really equals the love of parent for child. And by parent I mean the one who chooses to stay with that kid, biological or otherwise. I recently re-read Middlesex and was stopped in my tracks by this quote. Stopped in my tracks because by re-read I mean I was listening to it on Audible while on a run. The quote: "The anguish of having children. A vulnerability as astonishing as the capacity for love that parenthood brings." Now if any of my children are reading this, don't worry, I love you despite the vulnerability. Also, I know that being a parent is not the only source of love vulnerability. So many ways to love and be loved and to anguish and be anguished.

Speaking of sources of anguish, September 17 is National Physician Suicide Awareness Day. The first one, actually. Because physicians, especially women physicians, kill them selves more often and more efficiently than the general population.

Speaking of physicians, I lost a patient this week despite best efforts and my heart is broken. Vulnerability in love of any kind, whether filial or someone else's filiation, is a mixed bag.

Speaking of hearts, I have mentioned my resting heart rate in the 40's in prior posts. Mostly because I like to brag and think it is cool to have a heart rate lower than my age. Which will be 49 a week from now. Which will be my 365th day in a row of running (feet willing). The thought of this streak ending has me feeling off kilter. My daily running has a spiritual milieu, a blue streak of meditative sinew stretching. It is pounding beach and trail and pavement with focus or while spacing out, with elation or with grumpy pout, though my run usually turns my frown upside down around mile 2.8.  I run in sun or rain or snow or wind or past dogs who threaten to eat me like on today's lunch run when I thought they were all fenced in but one was not and I used my best alpha voice to tell him to back the hell off.  The daily run is a connection to my son, the one in prison, not a toddler, but still a kid really. I am emotionally mixed up about the end of this streak and it is freaking me out.

Speaking of mixed emotions, turning 49 is OK. It puts me one step closer to the next age group for road racing. Gold prospecting might be in my plans for the year. I won't be 50 for a little while yet. Numerologically speaking, 49 represents compassionate realism, focus, tolerance, and humanitarianism. 49 gets shit done, is reliable, sincere and, I am beginning to think, potentially somewhat annoying. I will always be a Packers fan though. Sorry 49ers. Not that I watch football. My current favorite footballer is Colin Kaepernick. Though I still have mixed emotions about Nike, with the whole sweatshop thing and a long history of misogyny.

Speaking of gun violence, blatant racism and hatred of women, I sure hope this next chapter in my life has a few more paragraphs filled with common sense, justice and love. The messy love, the one that is vulnerable. The one that, biblically speaking, involves love for the Other not because of what they can do for you but because it is the right thing to do. Starting on my 49th birthday, I plan to wake up to a world that would never elect a rapist to be president or a supreme court judge. I will wake up to a society that does not make my child practice hiding under her desk in case someone tries to shoot her at school. If I do not get instant world peace and a modicum of respect and some ability to string two sentences together in the people running our country, and the ability to run sub 7 miles again and ten thousand tons of ice cream....I'm going to scream!

I want it now.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Mollie Tibbetts

I run every day. Sometimes in the dark. Often alone. Of course we are taught as girls/women from the start to be afraid. It is why we cross the street when approached by a stranger and the hairs on the back of our necks stand up. It is why my daughter called me while she was walking home from work over a bridge in Seattle because some creep was there too and she needed to make a human connection. It is why I call my husband when walking out of the hospital at night. Not that someone on the other end of an iPhone can intervene, but at least someone will know when the line goes dead to do something.

The other day I was running out on the Bottom. I was going to head on this back road I like because the traffic is light and it adds some miles but ahead of me were two guys and a loose big dog and it felt wrong so instead I took the highway shoulder home with cars whizzing by, thinking death by automobile was preferable.

I have had 3 or 4 close calls with creeps in my life, and most were in my teens and 20's, I suppose because I was a better target then in terms of my naivete and my looks. One advantage of growing older as a woman is the cat calls reduce, and the guys looking to hurt you are not as interested. So now I mainly worry about my daughters.

As I think about Mollie Tibetts, I think about her family. I think about her fear. I think about how pissed she must've been to have a nice solitary run destroyed, her young life taken, the confidence of women everywhere again shaken. I wonder how she would feel about becoming the justification for hate though?

Personally, I think what should outrage all of us is misogyny. And the fact that girls, women, mothers, wives, sisters face inequality in many realms, including safety from abuse and assault.

I wrote a poem about all this. It is a little angry, I admit. It comes from a place of heartbreak and fear and true concern for this country that I want to love. It comes from bewilderment that hate seems to elate rather than deflate our populace these days.

To the family of MT, peace and healing.

Mollie Tibbetts

When a white girl is killed by a Mexican
Boy who came here illegally
When a white girl is killed while out
For a run in Iowa
When a white girl is killed
My country shouts
"Ok now let's talk about separating families."
When a white girl is killed, statistically
There is better than half a chance
Her boyfriend or husband
Or father or brother did it
When a white girl is killed on a run
My country suggests all us girls carry guns
Soon running holsters will sell
In every color
When a white girl is killed in Iowa
By a Mexican boy
My country shouts about an overdue wall
She was just trying to run
She was young
And he was an illegal alien so
My country's collective mouth contorts
And spits rage
At bleeding hearts like mine who
Still think children in cages out of line
With who we ought to be
Like lynching and Japanese internment
Slavery and smallpox blankets
Wrapped around unsuspecting original American babies
A white girl is killed
The white house seems thrilled
She could have been my daughter!
Or my other daughter who is brown
From another place
Her adopted country would be up in arms
Should any white girl born here come to harm but
A brown immigrant girl killed
Probably asked for it
Bad luck
And anyway who gives a fuck


Wednesday, August 15, 2018


The day I knew this would be home
I met Norm. He carried a cauldron
Walking a path to the beach
With purpose, dog at his side.
We landed on the Lost Coast
My children ran wild.
Son found a pelican skull,
We flew kites. Whacking rocks
To dislodge mussels brought as
An offering to Norm, cauldron aflame,
Reflected in eyes, blue skies
A gathering tribe welcoming
My orphan soul, twenty years ago.
The other day I sat with Norm
On the window seat with the dog
We ate Good-N-Plenty’s.
Fog engulfed the expansive view
Anyhow our backs to the window
Two doctors shoulder to shoulder
Discussing how it feels to breathe today.


Monday, July 23, 2018

So Far

What I have learned so far in this running streak, today day 306, is to listen to what my body has to say, nod sagely, then run anyway.

So far, it is easier than I expected, and I think I am in love.

It is slowing me down. Recovery might be the key to speed. I feel strong though.

I get out into nature every day, rain or shine or fog or heat, even when my dog raises an eyebrow to the thought. Nature is an even better drug than running.

Do dogs have eyebrows?

Rotating shoes is keeping my feet happy, or maybe just keeping them on their proverbial toes, constantly confused by new surroundings so they cannot complain about 300+ days of running. Current foot clothes I prefer include Nike Terra Kiger, Asics GT something or another (whichever model Mike at  Jogg'n Shoppe always gives me) and Hoka One One ATR. I do not have a sponsorship with any of these shoe companies for some reason. I keep waiting for the call. It is possible they are intimidated by my prowess.

I do not get backaches anymore.

I do get hamstring aches, butt aches, restless calves, sciatica, and gnarly wounds when I inevitably fall on some root during a downhill on a single track trail because my head is in the clouds and not looking at the ground.

I can plank like a motherfucker.

This streak has led to so much laundry. If I literally streaked, maybe that would be better.

My resting heart rate is not infrequently less than 40 beats per minute.

So far, I have learned that I am privileged. Some morning I might wake up with a stroke, or trip on my dog and break my neck, or find out the government has outlawed women running in public. I might have to be a refugee and think only about how to feed my children and keep them alive, without the time or energy for the folly of a run. I might meet that mountain lion in the forest and all that will be left are whichever shoes I wore that day, which I imagine he will spit out, because--gross.

I sometimes get disgusted that I cannot do a sub 7 pace anymore. Then I read the paragraph right before this and put my whining back in my back pocket. I doubt I will ever actually completely discard my whining. I have probably permanently discarded any hope of winning though. Oops, there I go whining again.

What I have yet to learn is what happens on day 366. I cannot picture it. So far, I am thinking I might try for a PR in the half marathon (doubtful, see above). Part of me thinks I would be a natural ultra marathoner, except for my nonexistent night vision and my tendency to fall spectacularly even in bright daylight. I sometimes think of doing a fast 5K. Or another marathon. Or or or

What I have learned from running over 300 days in a row is it is better not to plan too far ahead. Open the eyes, if lucky enough to do so, in the morning. Look outside and determine which clothes you will run in today. Then run. Or pack the clothes and run at lunch break. Or after work. Simple.

If I run too long at lunch break, the nurse at my clinic gets frustrated with me.

Forgetting your running bra is no big deal. That's what Coban is for.

I have learned to run every day. So far.

Monday, July 16, 2018



Trump is in London, he makes me sick
Why did we elect a total prick
Stupid, evil, dangerous as hell.

Turned his back on the 90 year old queen,
Rudely ignored her, he looked mean
Does he treat his own Grandma like this as well?

More Londoners showed to protest his ass
Than came to his inauguration, alas,
"Fake news! Paid actors!" spewed the imbecile.

He'll take away our right to choose,
Our health care, gay rights, and science too-
Are you still perseverating on her email?

It will get worse, it will get real
Stolen children, Nazi apologists, tell me-how will we heal?
Pretend things are fine, then we shall fail.

Paralyzed by fear in this slow motion crash
My son is in prison and we have no cash
Best curl in a corner and moan and wail.

Get up! Stand up, America, and scream!
Do not let haters destroy our dream.
I propose we crown Ruth Bader Ginsburg our queen.
Let justice shine through and kindness prevail.


Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Another Morning Run at the Beach

Another Morning Run at the Beach

Stretched together spine to spine,
vertebrae an old folk art wooden child's puzzle,
the kind you would get in Asheville, North Carolina,
dog to woman, as the sun creeps in.
Light's fingertips brush eyelids
inviting them to lift,
which, once done, introduces day's discomforts
to the fleeting night.
Her hand reaches, settling on his fur,
making his head lift, nose checking air.
And he follows her down the stairs
curling up nearby while coffee brews.
She charts last night's calls from worried patients
and studies poetry.
Maybe William Carlos Williams did this too.
Sun up, two cups drunk,
she moves into action,
into clothes and shoes, light t-shirt
brushing spine and ribs.
He already has his clothes on,
always prepared for this very moment,
uncurls like a spring released,
For the first time or seven hundredth time
or the last time.
A precious, mundane mystery,
how she can never fully get the sand out of her shoes,
or off of his tight curls.


Morning 7/3/18

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver, BC

Totems, weather-worn, and potlach bowls in the shape of humans and seals and several different creatures at once. Baskets by a woman's great-great grandmother, with her name and picture right next to her work there, great-great granddaughter proud to share. They called her Granny7.

One of my best friends calls me Jen7. We are not sure why but now I feel I am in good company.

History interests me, but most exciting was the modern art by members of the many tribes of this region. A short film by a young woman for her thesis, about respect. A symmetric black metal raven, folded and enormous, really two ravens or a raven and her shadow. When I sat in this one red chair and leaned my head back, Bill Reid started speaking the story into my ears as I looked at his carving of the Raven finding men in a clam shell and letting them out.

I am beginning to wonder if that was such a good idea.

Another room was divided by gauzy curtains into many rooms, each holding Resistance Art, "Politics and the Past in Latin America". In defence of maize, honoring the devil, and drawings by refugee children in El Salvador who depicted running from the US-provided helicopters that bombed their relatives dead.

The thing I cannot dislodge from my mind's eye: Three large paintings that are held by a wall with nothing else on it. They draw you in, so colorful and marvelous. Three self portraits of people with HIV who live in South Africa. The woman in the middle, her painting next to a small photograph with her eyes intently on you while you gaze at her work, got HIV from her boyfriend. She could not tell him or her father she had it, for her own safety. Had it, because although she was born a decade after I, she is dead now. Not of AIDS though. Her boyfriend murdered her.

At this point, I had to go to the gift shop and regroup. There was a spectacular orca mask I pictured on my very own wall, but it was $2000.00. I opted instead for two reproduced prints by two artists, one dead and famous, the other a young member of a local tribe. I also chose a small wood plaque with a raven carved on it, holding the sun (abalone) in its beak.

I wondered, as I walked through the rooms of the MOA in Vancouver, BC, which also had things from Europe and Africa and Asia and the United States of America, what the museum of anthropology will make of our era in 100 or 1000 years. It is possible we are, right at this moment, living through the downfall of the American Empire and there will be a small room dedicated to this.

It is possible the Raven will decide to shove us all back into the shell of a clam. Then future museum visitor will hear the same story I did, but in reverse.