Saved

“You don’t save me. I save me.”
— Kim Wexler, Better Call Saul

I watched the episode of Better Call Saul where Kim says that a couple of weeks ago.  On the show, Jimmy’s done something that caused Kim, a fellow lawyer, to be penalized at work, relegated to the windowless basement doing document review, the most menial work a lawyer can get. One night, Jimmy shows up and tells Kim he has a plan to fix everything and get her back to her rightful place in the office. She tells him she’s not interested and he persists; this goes on for several minutes. Finally, she shuts him down for good, making it plain that she’s the hero of her own story: “You don’t save me. I save me.”

I can’t stop thinking about that line. It echos in my head several times a day. I made it my tagline under my screen name on a forum I frequent. It speaks to me.

There are a number of things about my life that I wish were different. The specifics don’t matter. What matters is that I don’t do anything to change my circumstances, yet my frustration and sadness and disappointment at the current state of affairs is constant. I keep waiting . . . for . . . what, exactly? To be magically committed to making things different? To get to a point where I just accept what is and stop wishing things were different?

No, I think I’m waiting for someone else to make it happen. But when did I become that kind of person? When did I become the kind of person who complains about something but doesn’t do anything to fix it? The kind of person who knows what needs to be done but makes excuses about why she can’t do it? I have no idea, but I don’t like it.

I have a firm No Princesses rule in our house. We don’t buy any princess-themed books or toys or clothes, and any that we are given go right to the Goodwill pile. #sorrynotsorry The reason for that is because in most princess lore, the girl is portrayed as helpless, waiting in her castle for a man – preferably a prince – to come save her. My standard answer when someone asks me why I feel so strongly about this with respect to my daughter is, “I’m going to teach her to save herself.”

And yet.

I can clearly see why Kim’s words have basically been haunting me: I’m pretty much just waiting for a Jimmy to show up and tell me how he’s going to fix everything for me.

I’m going to save me. I just need to find the door to my windowless basement.

The Pull of the Moon

And the pull of the moon will be shared by you and the ocean and the minds of wild things.
— from The Pull of the Moon, by Elizabeth Berg

I knew my girl would make her way into the world during a full moon.  I don’t know why, but I did.  At 12:05 a.m. on Sunday morning, the day the full moon would rise, I had my first contraction.  By the time the moon was high in the night sky, we were on our way to the hospital.  I labored overnight while the moon shined outside the window, and Margaret Diane was born at 10:28 a.m. on Monday, November 18th.

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15 Weeks

You are the closest I will ever come to magic.
— from The Zygote Chronicles, by Suzanne Finnamore

No, that’s not how long it’s been since I’ve posted here, but I don’t blame you if that’s the first thing you thought of when you saw the title.

It’s how long this little one’s been making his or her home in my belly!

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You guys, we are over the moon.  Terrified, too, but mostly really, really thrilled.  I’m due November 24 – a Thanksgiving baby!  There is SO much to do and learn and figure out that we are, honestly, a bit overwhelmed, but we’re taking it a little at a time, and hopefully it will all get done, learned, and figured out.

This is the most profound – and weirdest – thing that’s ever happened to me. By weird, I just mean mind-boggling, really.  Like, it blows my mind thinking about what’s happening in there, and how in less than six months there’s going to be a new person in the world.  I never use the word miraculous, but when I think about everything that’s happening biologically, I think miracle is exactly the right word. Or, you know, magic.

Three Big Years

And most of my memories have escaped me
or confused themselves with dreams
If heaven’s all they want it to be
send your prayers to me, care of 1983
— John Mayer, 83

Today’s Writing Group prompt: What were the 3 most significant or pivotal years in your life so far, excluding the year of your birth?  Why?

1993: I meet J in August at our summer job. We spend hours in his car, just talking (honest!). I’m his first kiss. I will love him, in some way, for the rest of my life.  I spend the fall semester of my senior year of high school living in Barcelona with my family. At first I hate it – it’s taken me away from everything I know and all the experiences of senior year. After I enroll in school there, everything changes – I’m surrounded by kids my own age who are eager to befriend “la americana,” and we wander the city together for hours on end. I spend four months falling in love with a country, a city, and its people, in a love affair that continues to this day. I cry endlessly when it’s time to come home.

2002: Say it with me: I lose my hearing overnight at age 25; chaos, depression, anger, madness, and, ultimately, acceptance, ensue. Two weeks later, I fall and tear my rotator cuff, ultimately requiring surgery.  Two weeks after that, I come out to the parking lot to find my car with a flat. When I can’t get the lug nuts off I sink to the pavement and cry in defeat until someone drives by and takes pity on me. It is not a good year.

2007: I turn 30 and celebrate in Richmond with a wonderful, intimate dinner with friends and family. I earn my 50-pounds magnet from Weight Watchers. I graduate law school 15th in my class and earn a scholarship selected by the faculty. I move to D.C. to start a somewhat prestigious job, and sometime in my first week on the job, I meet David.  I sack up and ask a man out for the first time in my life – he turns me down, but it doesn’t matter. I buy a new car and then get in an accident five weeks later. In December, David and I have drinks outside work for the first time, and I realize that I am in deep, deep trouble.

Road Runner

Over the years, I’ve given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement.
— Steve Prefontaine

Because of all the house stuff, I never did tell you about the five 5ks I ran in April.  I’m really glad I challenged myself that way.  Here’s how the weekly Friday 5ks went:

April 6: 45:00 – I was so psyched when I finished – I told David the over/under was 46 minutes, and I beat it!

April 13: 46:10 – not as good as week one, but I had just as much fun!

April 20: 47:44 – it was hot, I was sick, and I was trying to save my energy for another 5k two days later (more on that in a bit), so I walked a LOT.

April 27: 48:41 – I don’t remember what happened this week, but I clearly walked nearly the whole thing.

The course was flat and the same each week.  It ran all through my neighborhood, which meant David could come cheer me on each time.  I loved seeing his smiling face as I crossed the finish line.

A LOT of people finished ahead  of me.  In fact, every week, about 5 to 7 minutes and less than 1/2-mile in for me, the leaders would come running past me in the opposite direction on their way to mile marker 2.  All kinds of people beat me: 10-year-olds.  People way thinner than me.  People way older than me.  Bigger people.  Tiny ladies pushing double jogging strollers.  A golden retriever and her human.  Guys in wheelchairs.

But, I finished ahead of all kinds of people, too – older, younger, thinner, heavier, a bloodhound and his human, moms walking behind strollers.  No guys in wheelchairs, though; they were all super-speedy.

So here’s what I learned over the course of 4 races:

  • Running is for everyone.
  • No one but me cares what I look like when I’m running.
  • Runners love to cheer each other on – I can’t tell you how many people waited at the finish long after they were done just so those of us in the back of the pack would have a cheering section.
  • You can’t look at someone and tell just by weight or body type whether they’re an athlete or how fit they are.

My fifth race was actually the fourth in the month.  The George Washington Parkway Classic. Karen and I did this race two years ago, but it didn’t turn out the way we hoped.  I had been forbidden by my doctor and physical therapist to run, and Karen’s planned running training program did not go as planned, so we agreed to walk it.  The whole time, I was champing at the bit to run, and about halfway through, I said, “Screw it,” and took off.  Not fast, of course, because I’m a pokey runner by nature, but still.  So we both finished, but overall, it was a disappointing experience.

So this year, when I started Couch to 5k on January 1, I set my sights on this race again, and Karen agreed to tackle it with me.  I finished C25k in March and signed up for the weekly races in April to keep myself running until this race.  Race day dawned dreary and rainy, just as it had two years ago.  We headed to the starting line full of nerves.  At the horn, we turned up our iPods and away we went.

My plan had been to run 10/walk 2, since I hadn’t managed to run all of any of my previous three races.  But 10 minutes came and I felt great, so I kept running.  When I hit the one-mile marker 4 minutes later, I knew two things: I was on pace for a personal best time, and I would be able to run the whole thing.

At mile 2, I checked my watch and realized I’d slowed my pace a bit, and I worried my PR was slipping away.  I told myself, “Just don’t stop, just keep going.”  Around the 3-mile mark, a course volunteer hollered, “Five more blocks!”  I checked my watch and knew it was going to be close.  Those were the longest five blocks of my life.  I counted them down in my head as I ran them: “Four-and-a-half blocks . . . four blocks to go . . . three-and-a-half . . .” checking my watch every few seconds.

Because I’m terrible and judging distance and how long it takes to traverse that distance, I thought I was out of luck, that 44:56 (my time in my first 5k in Boston) would come and go before I crossed the finish line, but I kept chugging along.  My face was red, I was breathing hard, my legs were burning, but I kept willing myself to go faster and not quit.  Finally, about 100 feet from the finish line, I looked at my watch and knew I was going to do it. People lined both sides of the street leading to the finish line and they were all cheering.  The red seconds on the official clock were ticking by.  There’s video of me about 50 feet from the finish – I put my head down, put my hands on my head, and shook my head in disbelief, and when I looked up and crossed the finish – tears.

I did it.  44:07.  I beat my best-ever time by49 seconds.  I had no idea when I started the race that a PR was even possible, but once I realized it was, I fought so hard to hold on to it.

And that’s why I run.  Because I love setting a challenging goal for myself and then trying to reach it.  I do not like the act of running itself, but it turns out that I love to race.  And to race, you have to train. Otherwise, you don’t get to feel the way I did that morning.