I’m taking part in my first triathlon this weekend. This may seem inevitable, given the running and running and running, but to me, this presented an even greater challenge than running the ultra (at altitude!) did.
Some of you know that a dear friend of mine was killed in a cycling accident. She was competing—
(Of the two of us, Beth was the competitive one. If you’ve read much on here, you know that’s saying something. We met in a Muay Thai class and became friends; we decided to be roommates on the day I bloodied her nose. So when I say competing, I mean she was competing to win)
—in a race on country roads, not unlike the ones I will be riding this weekend. It was a freak accident and she was terribly young and it was awful and I listened to a lot of Damien Rice and I miss her and I have been very very nervous about riding a bike ever since. I never understood people who were anxious fliers, but oh man, have I changed my tune. When I started going for longer rides I noticed that my brake hoods were angled oddly—it turns out I was gripping them so tightly I’d pulled them out of alignment. If I weren’t too scared to ride at night, I could probably use my white knuckles as headlights.
Amazingly, after a few months of wobbling along, hollering at tourists on the lakefront path, I am looking forward to the race on Saturday. Thanks to a lot of patience and support from my dad, Brisket and Coach K, I have the confidence to get out there and even have some fun. I’ll always be a cautious rider, but I actually enjoy cycling now, and I think Beth would be proud.
I wonder how long it will take me to find a sense of stillness.
Heads up: this got a little dark.
I have just realized that shame is the reason I don’t post here much. I have been shamed into writer’s block, blogger’s block, whatever, I’m blocked. There are just enough cutesy/snarky/clever/cruel comments and gifs that fling around about social networking posts that I find myself frozen out of feeling able to say anything at all.
If I want to say something about fitness, I’m one of those insufferable running people; if I want to say something about my work, I’m one of those angry feminists, or <gasp> a pro-military nutjob; and if I want to say something about a struggle I’m having, oops, first world problems! Even this post is probably going to be too ‘self-helpy’ for someone. Thank goodness I don’t have an engagement or a baby over which to gush and post too many self-congratulatory photos, lest my happiness should draw someone’s spite and bile.
Here’s the thing. I’m sick of it. I’m sick of hearing constant criticism of total strangers (hello? picked on a celebrity lately?), or worse, of the online personas of supposedly good friends. (note: love is something you DO, not solely something you say; friend is about the way that you ACT, not a button you click) I think there should be a rule. For every critical comment I want to make, I have to fix something in my own life. Not a cursory apology or half-hearted attempt to do good for a minute, but actually put the work into figuring out where I’ve done wrong, deciding what I can do about it, and then DOING IT. And you know, if we all put a little more energy into that, we might find that the drive to criticise just isn’t there anymore.
So if I’m to abide by my own rule, in order to justify this societal critique, I must repair something I have broken. Okay. I choose to expel some demons, because I believe that Pandora’s Box is a trumped up anti-feminist tool of oppression, and guilting us into keeping our secrets only serves to hurt us and guarantee we pass the pain along. ‘Be the change,’ right? So here’s a list of all the ways I have personally felt diminished as a direct result of something someone close to me has said:
Committed to fitness = obsessive/selfish
Not a great cook = unfeminine
Wear my hair natural = lazy
Recovered from an eating disorder = pathetic/broken/gross
Unmarried at 30 = unlovable
Didn’t move to NYC/LA and hustle in the entertainment industry = weak / untalented / ugly
Not a size 2 = undisciplined
Don’t go to church = damned
Admitted vulnerability or doubt = seeking attention
Well that’s a downer, right?? A bunch of starkly conflicting messages about perfection and expectations and stereotypes. And those are just what I came up with off the top of my head. Of course another way to perceive of all those qualities is that I’m doing my best to be healthy, and I pursue my interests according to my own priorities. I refuse to be shamed for that.
And what do you know? I just broke through my block. :)
Apparently this is the linchpin of a joyful life.
I have been on the phone with banks and insurance cos for weeks now (nothing bad, mostly moving-related), and I only realized this today: When the phone operators answer ‘hellothisisCandice,howmayIassistyou?’ I’ve been saying ‘hey Candice, I’m Courtney, how are you?’ and then just waiting. All of them sort of stumble around for a sec, but I’ve been having better conversations and much more effective customer service experiences as a result.
A lot of things are new in my life right now. Most wonderfully, I have a boyfriend (hold your applause please, I know, it’s astonishing!). He will henceforth be known as Brisket, and no, you do not get to know why. Brisket does amazing boyfriendy things like putting together the bed in my new apartment and rescuing me when I got stuck on top of the refrigerator and reminding me to breathe when I get so overwhelmed that I forget. He is without question my favorite new thing. Second favorite is my perfectly precious fifth-story one-bedroom apartment in Chicago! Having an address and closets and bookshelves is absolutely wild—I don’t know how everybody does it—it’s so complicated. Brisket had to remind me to breathe a number of times this weekend as we moved my belongings into the apartment and bought laundry detergent and such. For some reason the dish soap and laundry detergent really stumped me. It’s a fantastic (if harrowing) adventure.
I feel like my life is going through operating system updates, and I’m like, damn, that’s great, I never realized that wasn’t really working well for me until I got the new upgrade! Only it’s upgrading just a tiny bit faster than I can adapt. What I need is some solid free time to piddle around and test it out and just get comfortable. And of course free time is in short supply at the moment, so that’s the next new thing I’ll be wishing for!