I Have Several Things To Tell You…

1. You guys are great. Thank you.

2. Here’s something. So. You all know that I’ve been running (because I won’t shut up about it). Today I went for a run right after lunch in weather that was unexpectedly much warmer than I expected it to be while I was wearing too many clothes.

Anywho, long story short, I was less than a mile and a half into my run when I decided to give in and turn the run into a walk. That is not the problem.

You may know that I am a slow runner and that I am working on bringing my speed up. My medium-term speed goal is a 12 minute mile. So I was delighted that my speed on that 1.43 miles was an average of a 12:06 minute mile.

Then I walked the rest of the way home at a 13:53 minute mile pace. This is also not the problem. The problem is that I look at my distance log and this is what I see:

Side note: I know it's not really *that* much, but I'm going to have more than 50 miles this month! Yay!

Side note: I know it’s not really *that* much, but I’m going to have more than 50 miles this month! Yay!

If you look at the 23rd and 24th, when I ran slightly longer distances not on the treadmill (on which I do intervals, so a slower average), my pace was more than a 14 minute mile.

WHY DO I WALK FASTER THAN I RUN?

Should I just walk? I know I slow down when I get more tired after a few miles, but COME ON. How slow must I be running those later miles if my average is 14+ minute miles? What is happening?

I mean, I KNOW what is happening is that I keep trying and the longer I run, the faster I will get, but I don’t understand.

I just had to get that off of my chest.

3. I am SO excited about this next thing. I am a new contributing writer over at Autism Women’s Network and my first post went up Tuesday. How cool is that?

I wrote about my autism diagnosis and how I feel like Jack gave me a tremendous gift by helping me see myself in a clearer light. Please go check out my article over there: The Gift of Self-Knowledge.

4. My mom has been in town visiting and is actually leaving Wednesday, much to the chagrin of my children. I wrote about how her visits help me out over at White Knuckle Parenting: When Nana Comes to Town.

5. I would like to reiterate that you all are awesome.

Safe

I’ve been feeling really overwhelmed lately. I’m not sure why, but things have been pressing down on me and it’s been tough to get stuff done and operate at a hundred percent.

I don’t know that I’ve been exceptionally busy or had an exceptional number of demands on me, but things have felt exhausting.

A few weeks ago I started seeing a new therapist. My first session was at 7pm on a night that I had been busy all day. I had driven in and out of DC. I hadn’t been alone all day long. I’d rushed from one place to another. I’d been through an emotional therapy session earlier that afternoon with the family therapist that my kids see. It wasn’t a bad day, but I hadn’t had any down time.

By the time I headed out for the appointment, I was wrecked. Not five minutes into the session, the therapist said something about his office being a safe place and I burst into tears.

Even less than a year ago, I would have called myself an idiot and then felt stupid for crying the first time I met this guy. That particular night, I was able to recognize why I started bawling. First of all, I’m kind of an idiot. That’s okay. But mostly I realized that my day had just been too much and I had been pushed past my limit. And when he said I was safe? That means a lot to me.

When people ask me what my autism diagnosis does for me, this is one of them: It gives me the self-knowledge to understand why I react to things the way I do and it allows me to go easy on myself for those reactions. If I were smarter, my diagnosis would probably make me realize I should schedule my days so I don’t end up in meltdown mode at 7 pm.

It has also made me think about what I consider to be safe—and how much I value those things. When I talk here about safety, I’m not referring so much to physical safety, but mental safety. Safe means a place I can be myself. Safe means a place where I can make a mistake and it’s okay. Safe means a place where I don’t have to be ON. Safe means a place where I don’t have to hide parts of myself. Safe is where there are no unexpected, unreasonable attacks—interpersonal, sensory, what have you.

Hopefully safe places stay safe. There is nothing worse than a safe place that suddenly becomes unsafe.

Safe can be a person; safe can be a place; safe can be a situation or a moment. Unsafe can also be a person, place, or situation; unsafe can be an email account that gets unkind messages; unsafe can be a ringing telephone, or an event where I don’t know what to expect, even with friendly people in attendance.

There are people I absolutely love, but who aren’t safe. There are also people that I feel safe around that I am not particularly close to.

Unsafe places are not necessarily to be avoided. They just require a lot more effort on my part. Sometimes unsafe places are to be avoided and that is when they edge into where those unexpected, unreasonable attacks appear.

There can be safe places online as well. This blog has been such an amazing safe place for me and I want to thank all of you for that. I am constantly amazed by how supportive you are, and I appreciate that so much. Even when people have disagreed with me, this space has never become unsafe. I think that’s awesome.

I wrote a lot of this post a long time ago, after that evening with the therapist, but I didn’t publish it because it felt too…well, too unsafe. I decided to put it into the world after a space that wasn’t safe exactly, but was at least neutral, become decidedly unsafe. It’s nothing I won’t get over. I’ll build another wall and put up more defenses and I will be more cautious in trusting that type of space again.

I spend a lot of time worrying about doing and saying the right thing. Frankly, even admitting that I worry about that seems like the wrong thing to say. (I think the right thing is supposed to be, “I don’t care what anyone thinks about me.”) I rehearse things I am considering saying or writing before I utter them and I run over conversations in my head after I have them. I don’t think I’m alone in that.

It’s okay though because I am lucky to have several enduring safe spaces in my life, including some stellar friends and my home, which is almost always entirely safe. I think my safe people know who they are and how much I appreciate them. That’s why I’m publishing this post now. For those people—and for you. I want you to know that I appreciate you too—that you have given me this place that we share. Thank you.

Yes, You’re in the Right Place

MC910216367You may notice that things are a little awry here. The pontificating gerbil is missing. My sidebars aren’t fixed up. Colors are weird.

See, I managed to finally install a custom theme for my blog here and I can tell I am going to be really happy with it, but I have to do some learning first about how to use it before I can, you know, actually use it.

So, if you will, please bear with me and if you see something that seems really terrible, let me know and I’ll make an attempt to fix it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I am going back to the tutorial videos I’ve been poring over all evening.

Update: The gerbil is back! I am awesome! Thesis theme, you are my bitch! Now I just have to figure out how to get rid of that godsdamned generic text box in the upper right.

Update the Second: I did it! I got rid of the useless text box! I am a HERO. That’s right, a HERO.

Update the Third: It’s almost 1 am. It’s possible I’m a little punchy. I think I’ll go to bed and try to further destroy my blog design tomorrow.

Project Stimey, Phase Ugh

Project StimeyAre you curious to know how Project Stimey is going? Well. Considering I was running uphill and face first into icy wind this morning through fresh snow on the ground of a crispy 24-degree morning, I would say that it is going.

Because I hadn’t run a whole lot at the end of last year, I made an effort to get back on the roads over the past few weeks. That was Phase One.

I have to say that it has been working. I put up a stupid little distance log in my Project Stimey section and if it weren’t for the peer pressure of that obnoxious little table (not that anyone really looks at it), I would have been sitting on my ass this morning—and lots of other mornings. Not to mention that the fact that I put my pace there motivates me to try to run faster.

If you do look at the pace, keep in mind that I didn’t run for several weeks, I might have been running uphill on a slow run, and it is extremely possible that I might have been running into an icy wind. Also, I’m chubby.

I’ll get faster.

The other day I was running past this car dealership that is on one of my routes and a salesman shouted after me as I ran by, “I admire your dedication! I see you out here every day!”

It made me run faster. You never know where your inspiration is going to come from.

I am back at a place where it is status quo for me to run almost every day. I’m edging back into longer runs and I’m trying to run faster on my shorter runs and I feel really good about it all. I just wish it weren’t freezing out there. Spring can’t come soon enough.

Now that I’m solidly back into running (Phase one? Check!), it is time to move into Phase Two: Food Tracking.

Also known as Phase Ugh: so much wooooooork.

Phase Two, however, is better than Phase Three, which is all about elimination of caffeine. Also known as Phase Snore: so much headaaaaache.

In sum, I am still plugging along. And next time you see a pudgy runner, give her a thumbs up. It might just mean a lot to her.

 

Stimey’s 2013 Races

Stimey's 2013 Races

 

STIMEY’S 2013 RACE SCHEDULE!

Wanna join me?

 

February 10: Walt Whitman’s RedRush
Bethesda, MD
5k
Official time: 40:02; placed 425 of 558

May 18: Germantown 5-Miler
Germantown, MD
5 miles
Official time: 1:01:41; placed 180 of 197

May 19: Color Run
National Harbor, MD
5k

June 8: Run Amuck
Quantico
3.5 miles

September 13-14: Reach the Beach
New Hampshire
200-mile relay
Official time: AWESOME

September 21: Kensington 8k
Kensington, MD
8k
Official time: 56:37

November 3: Run For the Parks
Washington, DC
10k
Official time: 1:11:17

 

 

The Presidential Inauguration: The Agony and the Ecstasy

Going to the presidential inauguration on Monday was a profoundly meaningful experience and I am so glad that I was able to go with Jess and experience history like that with her. That said, it also reminded me why I don’t venture downtown for these clusterfuck of epic proportion events very often. (Read: never.)

Fortunately, when you’re in good company and you have given yourself a little self-talk ahead of time to prepare yourself for being physically stressed out all day, you can handle almost anything. So, without further ado, Stimey’s (and Jess’ (and Algernon’s)) Trip to DC in Fun Little Bullet Points!

IMG_7558

• The inauguration itself was a really amazing experience. It was very meaningful to me to stand on the mall and watch a man I have great respect for be sworn in for a second term. His words about equality and rights felt important. They ARE important. I was proud of our government on Monday. That is not something that I feel very often. It felt good to feel that. It felt good to be in a crowd that felt that way too. I will hold the experience of standing in that crowd for a long time. I am so grateful to have been able to go.

• Also, Beyonce is, like, STUPID BEAUTIFUL OMG.

• Side note: who cares if she sang live or not? I mean, it’s kinda lame, but whatever. In terms of things I cared about at that event, that is very far down on the list. Decent weather, a clear line of sight, and everyone’s safety was waaaay higher up. Plus, it was cold and none of us wanted Ms. B to strain a vocal cord. C’mon now.

• The message of human rights and equality that was sounded again and again at this event? The fact that so many speakers, including the man who gave the closing prayer, talked about gay rights? The fact that the disability rights movement is thiiiiiis close to being on the national agenda? That’s why I voted for Barack Obama twice. I hope that he—we—can make some progress over the next four years.

• It’s good that the inauguration was so powerful and that Jess and Algernon were so fun to be with because oh jeez, the crowds and the hurry up and wait and the THIS IS MY WORST DAMN NIGHTMARE.

• Actually though, the crowds were kind of phenomenal. If there were a crowd to be stuck in, this was the one. Considering how many people were in attendance and how difficult it was to get ANYWHERE after the event, this crowd was cheerful, funny, and supportive. There were a few bad apples, but for the most part people were a joyful, non-pushy, we’re-all-in-it-together-so-we-might-as-well-laugh-about-the-whole-thing kind of group. Considering that being shoved up against hundreds of other people with no escape is kind of the worst thing I can imagine, well, I appreciated that.

• We became overconfident early on when we weren’t faced with the crowds that we were expecting on the Metro. This might be because everyone who is smarter than us was already on the Mall by the time we left our houses. Our day started Stimey Early, which is not the same as Everyone Else in the World Early. Jess and I headed out to DC on the Metro at 9, which we thought was plenty of time to get us there for the 11:30 start time. The whole way there on our deserted Metro train, we were like, “What were all those morons talking about? Crowded trains? Lines? This is a piece of cake!”

• We continued to think this until we arrived at the mass of humanity standing between us and our entrance gate.

BUT DON'T THEY KNOW WHO WE ARE?!?!

BUT DON’T THEY KNOW WHO WE ARE?!?! I MEAN, WHO JESS IS?!?!

• They didn’t know who we were.

• But! We were smart enough to listen to the rumors that started trickling down that said that orange ticket holders were being let in through the blue gate and, frankly, we weren’t getting anywhere where we were standing, so we headed down there. By the time we got there, they were letting lots of ticket colors in. Hooray for us, because the blue ticket section was in front of the orange ticket section.

• Security was easy and I didn’t even get stopped, which is actually kind of a big deal because I ALWAYS get stopped. We followed the crowd onto the Mall right up until it stopped moving (Don’t let that wall stop you, crowd! Up and over!)—and here is where it sometimes comes in handy to be woefully unprepared and late because we ended up in a spot that was probably a lot better than we were supposed to have.

• See?

Proof!

You see the president up there, right?

• Our timing couldn’t have been better. We arrived just as the ceremonies started. Bumbling ineptitude FTW!

• We were situated where we could see both the (tiny) people on the stage and the (huge) Jumbtron people on the stage. Here is the Jumbotron version of the president being sworn in:

IMG_7582

Aaaaand here is our view:

IMG_7583

• We were close enough that we could actually see the president when he spoke. Well, we could have if the teleprompter screen weren’t directly in front of his face. I was pretty sure that I was going to have to draw his face on the screen for you all, but he leaned forward often enough that I was able to get a photo.

IMG_7595

I have, like, 25 photos of that man’s body with his face hidden by the screen.

• Because Algernon is close personal friends with Mrs. Obama, I felt it was important to get a photograph of him with her husband.

IMG_4992

I got a couple of strange looks for taking this photo, but I am nothing if not committed to the joke.

• Because we got there just as the ceremonies started, Jess and I didn’t have a chance to take a photo of ourselves together. Fortunately there was a poet, so we had some time to take a break and turn our backs. (I’m sorry. I have problems with poetry.)

I posted this on Facebook and someone said we had nice teeth. It cracked me up. There ARE a lot of teeth in this photo, aren't there?

I posted this on Facebook and someone said we had nice teeth. It cracked me up. There ARE a lot of teeth in this photo, aren’t there?

• Then, Jess and I discovered the real reason these events are nightmares. It’s not that everyone comes into town over the course of several hours in the morning. It is that those people then all want to leave town in the same hour in the afternoon. We managed to eventually maneuver our way our of our immediate standing area, but it took a while.

• Here’s something else about inauguration day. There is a parade. That parade will require the blockage of one of the streets adjacent to the Mall. When you reach that street and are all, “Why is this ridiculous street blocked off?” you will feel stupid when you realize that just because YOU don’t care about the parade, all the people lining the sidewalks do and you are a moron for not being aware of its existence.

• Seeing as how I was the person who lives in the area, I tried to take the lead a little bit and somehow managed to lead us almost directly back to where we had been standing during the ceremony. I was ready to sit down and just never get back up again, but Jess hadn’t eaten anything yet that day, so she was motivated to get the hell off the Mall.

IMG_7605

I like that on the chair she is as tall as the guy behind her.

• Also, oh-em-gee, isn’t she just the most adorable? Jess has a magnetic quality. We were walking down the street on our way to the inauguration and a vendor looked at her, did a double take, and said, “You are gorgeous!” I think it has to do with the fabulous teeth.

• I have never felt as not smart as I did trying to navigate that sea of people and inexplicable barriers that the Capitol police had erected and The People were attempting to trample down. We would find a hole and get through it (along with all the other masses) and begin shouting about FREEDOM OH THANK THE LORD SWEET FREEDOM, only to be confronted by another bottleneck of people. It was turrible.

• It was also a little sad to see all of the trash that people left behind. Why, people? Why?

IMG_4994

We took this photo when we thought we had finally escaped. We were so stupid.

• I have vivid memories, nay, nightmares, of the next 45 minutes or so of streets packed with people and that ambulance that forced its way through the streets packed with people and then the joy of finally, truly achieving freedom only to not be able to find food on the stupid wrong side of the Mall and the wandering, wandering, wandering…

• Then…in the distance…spotted by an eagle-eyed Jess…a Potbelly’s sandwich shop just off of the beaten path. The place was packed, but not packed like the other places we’d seen—and once we realized that we were standing in the long line for the bathroom and were able to move to the substantially shorter line for food, we were very happy.

• By the time we went into the Metro station, Jess off to hang out with Ari Ne’eman and me to find my car where I’d abandoned it in Virginia, we were able to handle the sight of yet another mass of humanity trying to get down the escalators into the Metro station at L’Enfant Plaza.

• I am so happy to have been able to attend an inauguration. It’s not something I ever imagined myself doing. To attend the inauguration of this president on this day? So tremendous. Thank you, Jess. It was a wonderful experience. I hope you come back to DC someday and we will do something that will probably be less moving, but also less arduous.

IMG_7611

 

*****

Naturally, Jess wrote something far more lyrical than I did. Read her post about the day and then imagine me raising my hand and saying, “Yeah. That.”

*****

I also wrote more about Martin Luther King, Jr. and what he means to my family over at White Knuckle Parenting. Monday was a good day.

 

 

Proud

I’ve been pretty excited about January 21st for a long time. My family always celebrates MLK Day with a big todo and when it fell on the same day as President Obama’s inauguration? Well, I was ready to celebrate.

We were going to watch the inauguration on TV and then MLK’s I Have a Dream speech on YouTube and then we were going to have cake and it was going to be great.

Things changed though, when Jess from Diary of a Mom, who does so much fantastic advocacy work, ended up with an extra ticket to the inauguration, and I jumped on her coattails and rode them all the way to DC.

Algernon rode her coattails too.

Algernon rode her coattails too.

I have a lot to say about our amazing day in (and eventual escape from) DC, but you know what is exhausting? Inauguration Day. Or more specifically, getting away from Inauguration Day. I will tell you all about it tomorrow.

Before I go to bed though, I will let you know that after I got home, we very happily watched Dr. King’s speech, complete with lively commentary from my three kiddos.

Then we sang happy birthday to Martin and had our cake, which was delightful.

Sam insisted on chocolate. Because, you know.

Sam insisted on chocolate. Because, you know.

In sum, today is a day that I was proud to be an American and proud of the leaders and heroes we get to learn from. It was exciting to be able to listen to the president and his terrific speech that was so much about equality and fair chances and then come home to kids who are so very interested in figuring that whole thing out for themselves.

So, not just proud to be an American, but proud to be a parent of such great little kids. (And proud to be a friend to the wonderful Jess. Thank you so much for taking me with you. You are a blast and a half to hang out with.)

Happy Inauguration Day, America. And Happy Birthday, Martin!