My World

Thick, swirling fog is caught in the bare branches of the trees. It sits on the slated angle of the roof. Creeps against the window panes. It is close and quiet. A duvet of the palest, whitest, gentlest gray. It conceals the Bridge and the mermaid Bay. Keeps them secret, hidden. But I know they are there. The hilly streets. The tall buildings. The colored houses. The wild Pacific beyond. And then palm trees and pineapple rain and more Pacific. And then and then and then…

It’s all there. I can’t see it, but it is out there. Big. Vast. More than I think I can imagine.

And I am here. Where it is small.

Where there is a faint alarm waking him up in the room next door. Will he wake up? Will he turn it off?

Where her door squeaks open as she makes her stumbly, early morning way to the bathroom. We should oil that door.

I am here, quiet in my bed, looking out through those windows at that soft, heavy fog slow-dancing over the vastness that is the world out there.

I am here, in my world where there is a boy who says everyone, everything is “annoying”. I don’t know what that means anymore. I yelled so loud yesterday my throat hurt for hours.

In my world the skin around my eyes is more wrinkled than ever. “I look old,” I say. “Not old. Just tired,” she replies. I burn my finger while cooking the stew.

In my world he wraps his little arms tight around my neck. “Love you too,” he murmurs against my cheek. His brother yells good night from behind the bedroom door.

In my world I go to a funeral. How is it that you go to bed one night with your life one way, and when you go to bed the next night it is completely, nonsensically, unbelievably different? We say psalms and share memories and I am thankful for religion and ritual.

In my world I have a car accident. It’s not my fault. I am wearing a seat belt, and have both hands on the wheel. I am not speeding. “Fools Gold” by Fitz and the Tantrums is on the radio. I love that song. I sing. I see the car about to hit me. I swerve, but not enough. I am fine, but my car is not. Sometimes even if I do everything I’m supposed to, there is still impact. jasmine In my world the jasmines have started to bloom. They are beautiful and fragrant and full of spring. They’re my favorite and I stop to take a photo. I smile and I’m warm in the January sun, and I forget that they’re early. Too early.

In my world I think about the friends who have silently floated away and I wonder if they’ll ever come back. I miss them. And I drink tea and watch TV with the ones who are always here.

In my world my sister makes me laugh every day. My son tells his sister she’s an idiot. I look at them, exasperated, and wish my brother lived closer than 10,000 miles away.

In my world I drop my husband at the airport. “Thank you for taking me,” he says. “Will you be okay without me?” If I tell him no, will he stay? I selfishly wonder for the shortest, most amazing second. “Yep!” I smile. Kiss him. He’s gone a lot.

In my world I visit a friend in hospital. I’m nervous and worried about her. The machines beep and swish and her hair is frizzy around her face. Her eyes light up when I walk in the room. They twinkle like always. I touch her bruised hand and I’m not nervous anymore.

I look at the swirling, gray fog and notice what I can’t see. It dissolves slowly under the yellow sun, and now there is a narrow slice of the brightest, clearest blue.

In my world.

This is a Finish the Sentence Friday post, inspired by the prompt, “The first thing you must do to take over the world is…” Hosted by Kristi from Finding Ninee, and co-hosted by Michelle of Crumpets and Bollocks and Anna of Fitfunner.

I Did It

Once upon a time I was a runner.


If runner means that I woke up every morning when the sun was just lighting the African sky. If runner means my sneakers hit the sidewalk in time to spring birds chirping, or summer raindrops falling, or followed the heady smell of burning woodsmoke on the dry winter air down quiet suburban streets. If runner means a breathless goodmorning, a hand raised in quick hello, as I passed a fellow crack-of-dawn runner. And if runner means a few 10k’s, a couple 15k’s, and one half marathon. Before I kinda, sorta, definitely quit.

That half marathon kicked me in the ass.

I trained. I carbo-loaded. I ran up hills and down hills and on the flattest roads I could find. I lifted (very light) weights to pretend I knew how to train build strength. I took a rest-day the day before.

My dad was my running partner in those younger and fitter days, and we ran the 10k’s together. They were short(ish) and mostly on a Sunday, so they didn’t interfere with his Saturday work schedule. He has far greater endurance and perseverance than I do, and was the perfect runner-in-arms. A regular half-marathoner, he would coach me gently, remind me to pace myself, encourage me up the hills, and he never let me finish a race alone.

This, my first half marathon, was a much bigger deal than the races we’d run before, in distance, time and emotional investment.

He couldn’t do it with me. He had to work.

So there I stood at the start. Feeling pretty much alone in the muted crowd of anticipation. Every muscle trembled with excitement and nerves, and I thought I would throw up before the gun even fired. I knew once I started, once my legs were moving and my arms were pumping, I’d be okay. Maybe even cruise a little. The endorphins would kick in and I’d actually feel good.

I’d never run a 21k before. It was brutal.

I did okay until about 15 kilometers, at which point the endorphins decided it was time for a beer. They abandoned me and my aching hip right at the bottom of an incline. I was left with my dragging Saucony’s, chaffing thighs, and seven more never ending kilometers to go.

But I wasn’t alone.

A guy I knew from high school rescued me from my marathon of misery. We’d never run together before, and certainly didn’t plan to run this race together. In fact, had he known that running with me would mean his personal worst time ever, he probably would’ve sprinted right by without so much as a goodmorning. He was a decent runner, a good runner. Definitely a serious runner. Twenty one kilometers was more than doable for him, and that race could well have been one that he was clocking for a full marathon or longer.

He did not leave my side. He slowed his pace. He wouldn’t let me give up. He coaxed me up every goddamn hill, sprayed cold water on my burning hip, and crossed the finish line with me at the very bitter end. He even let me limp ahead so that I wasn’t the absolute last.

They had stopped giving out medals by the time we made it, but he fished one out of the long abandoned box and gave it to me. For finishing. For doing it.

Exhausted, aching and disappointed in myself, I tossed my running shoes to the back of my closet. I swam, tried aerobics, and took up yoga and barre classes.

But the other day I stood on the path surrounding beautiful Lake Merritt. The water shimmered in the light, misty air and the buildings of Oakland stretched their gleaming, precise reflections right across the lake. “Good morning,” people smiled as they passed.

Two decades more wrinkled and wiser, I didn’t care how fast I ran, how long it took, or if I was slowing anyone down. I only wanted to run all the way around, without stopping. To finish right back where I started.

So I did. I did it.

And that’s what runner means.

This is a Finish the Sentence Friday post, inspired by the prompt, “When I think Epic Fail, I think…” Hosted by Kristi from Finding Ninee, and guest hosts Allie from The Latchkey Mom and April from 100lb Countdown.

When Stay At Home Mom Guilt Strikes Hard

FullSizeRenderYesterday I did nothing. And by nothing, I mean nothing. I was unmotivated, uninspired, and–unless seasoning the salmon we had for dinner counts for something–woefully unaccomplished. Smoked sea salt, lemon zest, plenty of dill. 

Days like that are few, if ever, for me. Not the unmotivated and uninspired part, I’m sure that happens to the most of us but we keep on keeping on. What was different about yesterday was that I was also remarkably unscheduled. No appointments. No meetings. I pretended we were not out of dog food or dangerously low on laundry detergent, so no errands. The day shone up at me from my iPhone, strangely and uncomfortably blank.

Read more here.

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Late. Again.

Our kitchen is probably the most important space in our house. For the fridge, the pantry, and the missing Legos I shoved in a drawer. For the haphazard pile of mail on the counter, and the blue hydrangea in the hand painted jar on the windowsill. For the owl-shaped cookie jar filled with British chocolate, and the day’s newspapers and empty cereal boxes shoved into a Trader Joe’s brown paper bag to be recycled – in which I found the check for the fifth grade school trip and also the homework I thought was scratch paper.

And for the large, flat calendar that sits quietly on the counter in the corner.


Amid a tissue box, a tin of Sharpies, and a 13-year-old steadily growing bamboo plant, the calendar displays both the secular and Jewish months, national and religious holidays, and most importantly, where and when we all need to to be on a daily basis. My one and only crafty project, at the beginning of the month I sit with a different color pen for each of us and record all upcoming activities, lessons, appointments, parties and trips.

Without the calendar, we all have a pretty concrete sense of what is happening in our lives, but the visual representation of the day, the week, the month, laid out in pretty colors and organized by person brings necessary calm and order to a very noisy, chaotic kitchen. Somehow, if it’s not on the calendar, it’s not happening.

You would think that with my carefully crafted schedule laid out in red, blue, pink, orange and purple, that with this daily, colorful reminder of where, when and who, I would be able to get myself and my people where we need to be with minimal confusion and frenzy, and without frantic yells of, “Come on, we’re going to be late!” Every. Single. Time.

Or maybe you wouldn’t think that. But I would. I do. I think that it is a shame, a sad shame, that a person who used to leave home with plenty of time to drive an unfamiliar route and find a parking spot in a crowded Oakland neighborhood, who prided herself on punctuality and hardly ever kept someone waiting, even when there was traffic, is now always (and I mean always) five minutes late. On a good day.

“I think this is going to be our first fight,” says my dear, non-confrontational friend of 12 years, with undisguised disgust at having to wait for me. Again.

Running five minutes late I text my sister, as I spy the keys I couldn’t find still in the door. And by five minutes I mean at least 11 minutes, but I’m too ashamed to admit I’m only leaving the house now, at the time we agreed to meet.

I call the dentist on the way to my appointment. Tell my son he should walk home because I’m stuck in traffic. I’m late for the vet, the hairdresser, library duty, dinner. And I know it’s only a few minutes, and people are mostly forgiving and understanding (even my friend who is sick of waiting for me; we didn’t fight). I know that in reality the unpredictability of life creates loud disorder and mayhem out of even the most color-coded, organized moments.

But I hate that lately, I am always late. No matter what.

My kids pore over that all-important calendar in the kitchen every day. They delight in the colors, the visual simplicity, the predictable schedule, and mostly in knowing what’s going to happen next: later today, tomorrow, next weekend. One of their favorite days is the first of the month, because they get to rip off the month that was and see the uncluttered potential of the month ahead.

After two long winter weeks away from the scheduled days of the calendar, when we returned home on January 5 they went straight to the kitchen. They ignored the happy barking of Pretzel the dachshund, and clamored around the curling page of December.

“Mom, can we rip it?” Their hopeful faces turned to me. They were four days late already.

The answer left my lips before I even had time to think about it: “No! Just leave it for now. I’m not ready.”

Not ready. Not ready to record the everyday activities into the blank spaces of this month. Not quite ready to jump into January, even though it’s already started. Not ready to let go of 2014, just yet. To leave those moments: those wonderful, difficult, terrifying, incredible, saddest, happiest moments that I will never have again.

I left the kids staring longingly at the stained days of December, in the kitchen crowded with unopened mail and newspapers still reporting 2014, and slowly headed upstairs.

I hate leaving the moment I’m in. Whether it’s a book or the laundry or the conversation I’m having, the quiet of the car, the paragraph I’m writing, the hot shower, or brushing my daughter’s hair into a ponytail. I find it difficult to move smoothly onto the next thing. The next moment. So I linger in this one.

Just five more minutes.

This is a Finish the Sentence Friday post, inspired by the prompt, “You should vote for me for president because…” Hosted by Kristi from Finding Ninee, and guest hosts Michelle from Crumpets and Bollocks and Anna from FitfunnerYou should vote for me for president of the Let’s Be Five Minutes Late Club, because I will never let you down! Even this post is almost five minutes late.