Currently…

I am having so much trouble finding things to write about in this space.  I think the problem is because I started this blog telling stories about big events, that I look at it in that vein.  There just aren’t a lot of big things (except for my impending grandmotherhood, which is still impending and not here yet) going on day to day for me these days.  I still haven’t gotten the knack of transitioning this space into a stream of consciousness, write about daily life, whatever strikes my fancy type of place.

But in my fitness blogging, I came across a blogger who had put some writing prompts out.  Maybe that’s what I’ll try for now, until I get my footing of writing about my current days, even when nothing seems like a big enough deal to write about.

So, thanks to Running with Spoons for this blog prompt.  🙂

Current book:  None.  I’ve been so terrible about reading anymore.  I am in a book club, of sorts, but we hardly ever choose books to read and we get together, if we’re lucky, twice a year.  The real readers who were the impetus behind the group forming have all moved away, and now it’s really just a social thing.  I don’t have a lot of time to read these days either, so most of what I am reading amounts to blogs on the internet.  And reading is one of the things I love!  OY!  Must find a book and time to read it.

Current music: I just downloaded a few new tunes for my race playlist:  Peace by OAR, Glowing by The Script, Classic by MKTO and Ain’t it Fun by Paramore.  I’m actually paying more attention to current music because of my bootcamp classes.  Before I was filling my playlist with slow, angsty music that really didn’t do much to get me moving.

Current guilty pleasure:  Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.  I liked me my OC girls and my NYC ones but never got into the truly over the top BH ladies until this season.  Now I’m freakin’ hooked.  Dammit.

Current nail color:  clear and chipping.  With the amount of work I do on the computer my nails never really can get very long; they’re right on the edge at this point.  I go in phases with the nails.  I bite, they get short, I get a manicure, I like the way they look and feel, they grow.  Rinse, repeat.

Current drink:  fruit flavored tea.  I’m back on the weight loss train and trying to fill my belly in the afternoons with something other than plain water.  Also helps with the bone chilling cold here in the northeast.  Peach is really my favorite right now.  🙂

Current food:  my newest favorite thing that I’m eating is tortilla pizza for lunch.  It’s easy, you can put anything on it, and it’s healthy.  Feels somehow more filling than a salad, but that could be my salad bias.  Somehow salads just make me mentally go blech.  I eat them but they are never my first choice.

Current obsession:  started my half marathon training today.  Yes, you read that right.  Me, who has never been athletic in her life, has signed up for a half marathon after two and a half years of dragging my slow self through 5Ks and 10Ks.  It’s the next logical step for me.  I know I’ll never be a fast runner, but for me it’s about completion.  Not many people run, and even fewer complete much more than 5 miles on a regular basis, so I really want to reach this milestone.  I am sure the next three months will be spent researching, talking about it, reading about it, and generally annoying the crap out of everyone about it.

Current wish:  that my grandbaby would get here!  My daughter in law is due on Friday and the waiting is killing me!  I’d like to travel to be there if at all possible, and the logistics of that get dicier every day with having my two younger kids involved in all sorts of activities.  So I’m hoping for a safe, healthy delivery sooner rather than later.

Current triumph:  seriously cutting back on my wine habit.  I was drinking 2+ glasses a night, more on the weekends.  I managed last week to drink only 2 glasses on two days out of the seven.  That was a big deal!

Current bane of my existence:  teenage girl drama.  My daughter is truly testing my patience.  I want to love her and share things with her and she is truly unpleasant to be around these days.  It’s so hard to figure out how you can love someone so much and still dislike their behavior so intensely.

Current indulgence:  new iPhone.  Best Buy was having a deal where you basically turned in your 4s and they gave you a 5s for free.  I wasn’t sure I needed one but now I’m very glad to have a spiffy new phone.  🙂

Current procrastination:  finalizing sponsors for the 5K I plan.  We have to close them out asap and I haaaaaaaate approaching people for money.  Hate it.  But it’s so necessary to making the race successful.  I have two more to deal with and six days to do it.  Must not put off any longer.

Current blessing:  work!  I have more and more website jobs which i am truly excited about.  I love the work and I’m learning something new with each project.  Also, money.

Current excitement:  grandbaby!!!!!  Can’t wait to know if it is a boy or a girl, what its name is, what he/she looks like, and hold the baby!  I can’t wait!

Current mood:  content.  Other than the teenage girl drama, things are going well right now for us.

Current link:  MyFitnessPal.  With me trying to lose weight again, this is my most used link these days.

So that’s where I am currently.  🙂

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Whirlwind

So I sent the email a few days or so ago, to my former boss, the Rock Star that had seventeen top forty hits, one of which rhymes with “Messy’s Girl”.  I write that in code and you’ll see why in a moment.

It’s strange to do that, after so many years of not working for him, and stranger still to prepare to go to a show, something that I haven’t done in four years.  I have grown by leaps and bounds since I used to work on his website, with his fans, and I’ve moved beyond so much that drove me to need to do those things.

A girlfriend who is also a fan had emailed me a few weeks back asking if I wanted to go to this show in New York City, a small venue, all acoustic.  Normally I’d say no; it’s a weeknight, and the city is not terribly easy to get to on a weekday.  Someone would have to get the kids dealt with after school.  And would I stay overnight or no?  ($$).  Would I take the train in or drive ($$)?  It’s a hassle on a good day, so I said I’d look into it.

Meanwhile, while we were having the conversation, tickets went on sale, and we both snapped up good seats.  A few days later, I’d asked two of my Not So Die Hard Fan girlfriends if they wanted to go, and we had a group of four women, ready to descend on the city for a RS show.

To be honest, I loved the idea of sharing that part of my former life with these women, who have never known me as the Fangirl, Fan Liason, Part of the Team.  It’s a world that seems surreal to me at times to.  But still, I thought it could be fun.

So I sent the email a few days ago, as I used to always do, and the response was lovely.  “Can’t wait to see you, please come early etc etc.”  Also a few choice words about an issue that had strangely made its way into the news of late.

Here’s where the story gets weird.

Long story short, I found myself an hour later diving into the archives of the fan email database I used to be a huge part of looking for ideas and information to pass along.  I dotted the Internet, looking for references to the issue in question and started compiling research.

I didn’t think twice about it.  I’d done work for him for so many years, researched ideas for marketing, promotion, charity, events, it was as easy as slipping on your favorite jeans that you forgot were in the back of the closet.  As if nine years hadn’t passed since I last wore the “official” hat, I posted online asking fans who had any information regarding what I was researching to message me privately.

Except.

Within twenty minutes of my doing that, another fan did the exact same thing.  Using much stronger language, stating she’d “been asked” to compile research and do legwork and on and on.

Which is fine, the more the merrier I suppose.  But somehow, it reminded me of the constant push/pull/who’s on top/who’s better than anyone else/who has the most connection/who’s the most helpful to this guy game that I so remembered and so disliked about being involved.  The work?  Loved it.  Loved being useful, helpful.  The “get out of my way, I was here first” vibe?  So don’t miss it.

It was as if suddenly my offer to help became pushed aside by someone who was louder, more overt, more forceful.  I watched, in amazement, as the online postings from her and fans went on and on and on.  I quietly posted one or two things more about my offer to gather information and watched as the same old patterns emerged.  People questioned the women who clearly had some sort of official conduit to The Man In Question, others defended them.  The other person who was helping posted some defensive remarks, similar to ones I likely had typed into some computer, some time ago, when I was being questioned about my work with The Rock Star Who Shall Not Be Named (did I really come across as that arrogant?  God, I hope not).

I saw it all shake out and it just reminded me how far I’ve moved beyond.  Beyond the need to be seen by Him and His Fans as smart, helpful, connected.  I did used to need it.  It definitely defined me.  But now?  I put my head down, compiled my information and sent it along.  Answered the emails that came in with the knowledge I have.  Did the work for the sake of the work, nothing else.  I could feel the urge to respond, to stand up, to say, “Don’t you know who I am?  Or who I was?”  I felt it, sure.  But then I realized, I didn’t need to.  I know.  I know it and I don’t doubt it.   How about that?

Frankly, it was a good lesson before next week.  Did I like being useful?  Of course, and the kind words I received in response were lovely.  But mostly, I loved knowing that no matter what happens on Tuesday at this show, I will enjoy it.  I will slip on those old pair of jeans and step back into that world for a little while.  The beauty of it, though, is that I will do so taking all of the knowledge and lessons I’ve learned in the last nine years with me.  It won’t be the same, at all.

I’m thinking it will be better.  🙂

Mean Middle School Girls

One of the themes that reigned supreme for me as a positive take away from my Fitbloggin’ conference was that we are in control of ourselves, but no one else.  We can control a lot by thinking all of the myriad of choices we have during the day, but we have to understand that sometimes Other Stuff happens that is absolutely not our fault and not in our control.  In those situations, all we have is our response.  We can control our response to a bad situation (What’s that saying?  10 % in life is what happens to you and 90 % is how you react to it?  One of my favorite quotes.).

Anyway, this was relevant not only to me, but as a great discussion point for my daughter, who is still struggling with Being A Middle School Girl  (See this post, ugh).   My daughter has this awful problem of wanting everyone to like her (can’t imagine where she gets it from) and last year she had finally found a group of girlfriends.  Three other girls that were in most of her classes who all seemed to value her and really enjoy her company.  But then, somehow, her need to be Liked By Everyone got in the way and she did some things to damage the friendships.  I tried to coach her all summer as to how to repair the damage (made so much worse by the constant stream of video chats, typed chats, texting and group texting that occurs, since it so much easier to be mean and be misunderstood that way), and during the summer we seemed to have made some headway.

But when school started, it all fell apart.

My daughter went from being a valued friend to someone they enjoyed picking apart, piece by piece.

She would go up to their table in the lunchroom, and they would proclaim it full.  One of the girls was in most of my daughter’s classes but mysteriously got switched by the second day of school.  And there were constant messages about sleepovers and get togethers that my daughter was not invited to.   Daily, my daughter would ask via text:   “What did I do?  What can I do differently?  I want to be friends again.”

Sometimes they’d ignore her.  Other times they would coach to be more like her former self.  Other times they would be downright rude:  “Shut the fuck up.”  Finally, I told my daughter, enough.  These are not friends you want to have.  These are people who are taunting you to see how much they can pull on the puppet strings.

This week, my daughter won a spot in the school play, “The Miracle Worker”.  Eighty kids tried out, including two of the girls in her former friend group.  My girl won a named role.  One of the other girls was placed in the ensemble and the other one didn’t make it.

You can see this one coming from a mile away, right?  The one who didn’t make it immediately started talking smack about my kid at school, saying that the character my kid is playing is mean and bitchy, just like my girl.  Of course since my kid is a Middle School Girl, this was reported to her.  And my kid decided that was it for her.  She confronted this girl who was talking smack about her.

Bullies don’t like to be confronted.  They get mad, really mad.  And it’s never their fault.  Never.  It’s really pointless to try and deal with them, because you’ll never change their minds, but you always want to prove them wrong.

Except you can’t.  When people have their minds made up, you can’t deal with them at all.

So when I came home from work yesterday, I found my daughter staring at a screen and crying.  Why are the so mean?  Why is it my fault for saying something when this girl talked smack about me so everyone could hear at school?  Why do they keep bothering me so much if they don’t even like me?

And after my experiences last week, I knew exactly what to say.

“You can only control yourself, and your reaction to people.  So don’t give them any more power by trying to make them like you.  It’s their loss.  You are smart, you are pretty, and you just won a big part in the play.  Focus on the good in your life right now and leave the negative behind.  People won’t believe their trash talk when you show them plenty of evidence to the contrary every day.”

Being a Middle School Girl sucks.  What sucks even more is that the lessons that apply to her are ones I am still trying so hard to internalize myself.

FitBloggin’

I’m going to Baltimore next weekend.  I am going all alone and I am alternately nervous and insanely excited.

I’m going there because I won a spot volunteering at Fitbloggin.  I’ve been trying to explain to my friends what Fitbloggin is, what it will be for me, and why I am going, and I’m not even really sure I know I can really explain it.

I’m not a fitness blogger.  OK, I have a fitness blog now, but I didn’t even really pull the trigger on it until I got the gig working at Fitbloggin’.  Yes, I am interested in exercise now that I’ve been running for the last year, but I’m not a fitness guru.  I don’t go to a gym, I am definitely overweight and I clock between 37 and 40 minutes routinely on a 5K.

I am a web designer, and use the blogging platform WordPress routinely now in the work I do.  So there is definitely an element of the geek in me wanting to see more and learn more about blogging and how people turn their own thoughts and designs into a viable platform for various topics:  weight loss, fitness, parenting, etc.  I don’t ever feel like I’ve found my voice blogging.  I tell stories, sometimes.  I am funny, sometimes.  But what I don’t think I am is consistent.  I’d love to see successful bloggers there and see what they have to say about all of that.

Plus, there is a little of the star struck in me.  I’ve been following Roni Noone since I lost weight successfully in 2007.  I always appreciated how honest she is in her postings; she shows her house before she cleans it (!), she confesses to late night snacking, and owns her insecurities.  I honestly can’t imagine meeting her, someone who seems both at once like a superhero and my best girlfriend (that I’ve never met) all at the same time.

I guess I’m not entirely sure what I’ll get out of the conference or what it will mean to me.  I don’t know a soul going.  I am going for three days of workshops and events without a single other person in the world I know.  I think I’ll meet people and it will be fun, but there is always that side of me that wonders why I am doing this.  I’m not a true fitness blogger, I’ve gained much of the weight I successfully lost, I don’t plan on monetizing my blog or using it as a springboard for a career (although, that would be all kinds of awesome, actually).  But still, I won the spot, and I’m going.  I’m going to spend three days in Baltimore and they’ll all just be about me.  Not me the Mom, or the wife, or the perpetual volunteer.  Just me, and what I want to do with myself and my health.

Which, I guess, explains why I am both excited and terrified all at the same time.

The View From My Corner of the World

The roundup of what my world looks like since I last blogged (nearly two weeks ago?  Yikes).

Today is my eldest son’s 23rd birthday.  Holy how on earth did this happen?  It seems both a million years ago and also about a few days ago that I was balancing him on my hip while I navigated life.  He came home last weekend with his girlfriend, and we had dinner Saturday night with her parents.  It is still hard for me to believe that this is my life.  That he and I could have ended up in a very different place.  Instead, we’re eating amazing Italian food with his potential inlaws in this crazy expensive town in CT that we can almost afford to live in now.  I’m not sure if this totally set up situation for meeting her parents is a prelude to Some Really Big News, but for now, holy smokes, my kid is older than I was when I had him.

The younger two kids are back in school.  I am still desperately worried about my daughter and her swimming with all of the sharks at school.  There were whispers about people not sitting together at lunch (not on purpose, really) and getting transferred out of her classes.  We don’t know what all is true, but a glance at her iPod text app yesterday made my heart sink.  She still is trying so hard to be friends with people who really don’t give a crap about her.  I vacillate between hands off (“she’ll have to figure this out herself, as painful as it may be….after all, didn’t we all hate middle school?”) and hands on (“honey, if they treat you that way it is time to move on…why don’t we call so and so who actually likes you and invite her over?”) on a daily basis.  We’ll see what happens.

My dog is one crazy canine.  While we were out drinking heavily celebrating Labor Day with friends, he tried to escape from his crate.  Not sure what all happened (I must set up that streaming video idea I had) but when we came home his two front paws were mangled and bloody, and he’d lost a toenail.  I nursed him for two days before taking him to the vet (having decided that while we love him, we weren’t paying a thousand dollars to the doggie ER).  Having a dog is indeed like having a small child.  The poor thing is now scared to death of his crate, needs pills twice a day, and now begs for (and receives) a companion in the room where he sleeps (not our room; the den downstairs where his crate lives).  Not sure what I am going to do when I have to leave the house, but I kind of do have to leave the house, like, some time this week.

My one year running anniversary is coming up in six days.  I started the Couch 2 5K program on 9/12/11.  I saw this blog entry from this one woman on her running anniversary and she’d gone from the program to like, a half marathon on her anniversary.  I am going to be struggling through another 5K this weekend (this is my seventh), hoping I don’t die, because I let my exercise go the whole time I was in Europe (and to be honest, it was on a major downward spiral before we left with the kids home this summer).  I’m trying to focus on the positives of it:  like, I am still actually running, and that I weigh less today than I did a year ago (um, only about 9 pounds….but whatever), and that I am likely healthier and all that.  Still, I do feel an awful lot like I should be trying harder, doing more having been at this thing A Whole Stinking Year.

Speaking of OMG THE RUNNING, I am going to a fitness conference in two weeks called FitBloggin.  I scored a free ticket by applying to be a live blogger, even though at the time I had no fitness blog and no audience for the real blog I actually do have.  The ticket might be free, but the hotel room on the Inner Harbor is like $200 a night, but I’m a little freaked out about getting a roommate that I don’t know and have never met (though, apparently, people do this all the time at these things).  I tried to entice my girlfriends with the Hotel Room in a Awesome City Away From Here for a girls’ weekend type of thing, but they all have soccer games, or football games, or husbands that aren’t interested in them subsidizing my weekend in Baltimore.  So it will be me, all alone, with all of these bloggers who write about fitness while I am pounding out 40 minute 5Ks.  Still, I’m super excited anyway.  Maybe I’ll network and find a job, or something, out of it.

And that’s the view from suburbia this warm September morning.  Yes, sure, I could have written about politics, or my inner conflict about why I am not hearing back from an old friend, or some other existential dilemma but for now?  This is where I am at.

It’s Still There

I heard from him the other day.

Not unsolicited, of course.  No, I’ve hardly ever heard from him out of the blue like that.  Even when I was working for him, emails from Rick Springfield only appeared in my box with the inevitable re: in front of whatever subject title I had been writing about.  The emails were never long.  I learned, after we started hosting online chats with him, that he was a hunt and peck typist, which I suppose accounts for some of the brevity.

Still, it was a thrill to see his email address in my inbox just the same.  Even though it’s been years since I’ve worked for him.  Years since I’ve even been in the same room with him.  Why is that?  Most of the people I knew who were avid fans at the time of my work for Rick are still in the mix, posting like crazy on message boards or Facebook or the relic Yahoo email groups that were our lifeblood way back when.  They still are going to his shows because he still tours all of the time, nearly every weekend.   They fly, or they drive insane distances.

I get it.  I used to as well.  As I was looking back on some of my old photos after my trip to Michigan a few weeks back I marveled at how much I’d traveled.  At the time it felt like I was constrained, never as able to go to shows as often as my girlfriends who were fans.  They didn’t have young children, or their husbands were more able to care for the kids in their absences.  Still, as I ticked through the places I’d been, I chuckled.  Dubuque, IA.  Las Vegas, NV.  Rockford, IL.  Columbus, OH.  Chicago, IL.  Tucson, AZ.

But I don’t anymore.  Things are different now.  I don’t work for him anymore, and while I’ve come to peace with how that all shook out, it’s something I carry with me, still.  It definitely put out some of the fire I had towards seeing him, being a part of the madness and mayhem that is the fan experience.

Still, when I looked through those old photos, one leapt out at me.  The moment it captured, one of the first moments I’d ever shared with Rick.  It was after a charity event, where he’d sung about his dead father.  I’d used my mother’s inheritance to attend.   It all came together, his loss and my loss and I thought:  my mother made this happen for me.  She led me to this man who had been my unknowing savior during my teen years.  And I told him so.

At some point during that conversation, this photo was snapped.

(of course I blurred my face….couldn’t actually put a real photo of myself here)

Looking at it again, after all of these years, I couldn’t help but be amazed.  At the intensity, the beauty, the essence of what passed between us captured in it.  And so, even though I haven’t emailed Rick in probably a year or more, I uploaded the photo into an email and sent it along to him.  I told him that I had found this photo and was moved to share it.  How wonderful that moment was.  And that despite everything, I would never forget how wonderful he was to me, that day and many of the days that followed.

I won’t say what words he used in his response, but I will say that they brought a very big smile to my face.   For whatever it’s worth, even after everything, there is still something special about him.  And I am grateful, every day, that i was fortunate enough to live out that one, crazy, teenage dream.

Haters Gonna Hate

I chuckled looking at the computer screen, nearly choking on my first cup of coffee.  Was that the best they could do?

This week our town held its annual budget vote.  In our tiny New England town, the residents have to approve the spending plan each and every year at the polls.  It’s called an automatic referendum.  When I first moved here I thought it was the craziest thing; in the Midwest, we would have to approve school spending every few years in what was called a “millage vote”.  In the district where I lived, they hardly ever failed.

Where I live now?  They fail routinely.  And since we have to approve a plan every year, it means we vote until it passes.  A few years back, that meant six votes.  We were voting so late that we were about to need an emergency loan from the state because the fiscal year was going to start before we had an approved budget.

It’s why, a few years ago, a group of people and I started an education advocacy group.  To help inform parents about the budget votes, to let them know what was really at stake and lost each time our town failed a vote.  We made phone calls.  We placed VOTE YES signs all over town.  We passed out flyers at the Dunkin’ Donuts.  One year, we held a rally on the Town Hall lawn and I was interviewed on TV.  It’s made my name well known around town.  I’m either a hero for protecting our kids or a pariah for reaching into taxpayer’s pockets, demanding more.

Last year, our teacher contract called for a wage freeze.  It meant that our school system could get by with little or no increase in funding.  So when it came time for the budget numbers to be released, we weren’t all that surprised to see no increase in funding.  Most years, this would have sent us into full fledged attack mode, calling press conferences and media outlets to express concern for the future of our students.  But our superintendent managed the flat budget without any damage due to the wage freeze.  Our group quietly supported this move, which turned the tables.

Suddenly, our support of a low budget was called into question.  How could we call ourselves advocates for education if we weren’t demanding more for our kids?  But we were realists.  We knew that in the current economic state, our tiny little town would never vote for an increase in funding for a system with a wage freeze.  We didn’t want to see further cuts if the budget failed, so we supported the 0 %.  And it passed, with flying colors.

We found ourselves in a similar position this year.  A low budget, a new superintendent who was brought in to keep quality high but spending low.  He promised the system could thrive on a flat budget due to savings elsewhere in the system.  We again threw our support behind this plan, again citing positive outcomes and economic reality.

This time, we earned ourselves some enemies.  And while none of them have yet spoken to me personally, they are out there, in my tiny little town.

How do I know? Because they are posting on the Internet.  Under false names, several (or one person using several pseudonyms) people are calling me and my fellow education supporters out on one of those microlocal news websites.  Giving each one of us who signed a letter of support for the budget a comical but derogatory nickname, they go on to tell us our days as education advocates are clearly over.

Fifteen years ago, this would have bothered me.  Ten years ago, when similar things happened on the Rick Springfield fan message boards and mailing lists, I would type out a very hasty and indignant response to whomever had criticized me and something I’d done.  I would be hurt, anxious, and unnerved by the idea that someone out there disliked me enough to take the time and energy to create a false persona and type angry words into their computer.

These days, it mostly makes me chuckle.  I figure I must be doing something right if I’ve gotten under someone’s skin that much. And I marvel at how I really don’t need to respond anymore.  I am satisfied with the work I did.  I am sure I made the right choice.  And I don’t doubt either of those things just because someone woke up at three in the morning and decided to spew some hate on the Internet.  That’s their problem, not mine.

It serves as a good reminder of how much I’ve grown, how far I’ve come in the last ten years.

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