Thursday, March 29, 2007

5K? No way. Also? STOP THE BEEPING!

Okay, I love my apartment, but sometimes the airshaft outside my window acts like an echo chamber. It doesn't happen often, but suddenly there will be a child crying or a dog barking or a phone ringing or an awesome jazz trumpet riff that sounds like it's IN MY ROOM. And right now, there is this soft, electronic beep.

Beep-beep-beep. Pause. Beep-beep-beep. Pause. Beep-beep-beep. Pause. Beep-beep-beep. I've searched the whole apartment just in case it's coming from somewhere in here, but I can't find it. I'm guessing it's an airshaft echo. I'm praying it stops soon, cause it's making me nuts.

So on to the running stuff: Recently, a coworker asked me if I wanted to sign up for a 5K run. I was hit by instant opposite thoughts: the words "Hell, no" and a truimphant vision of me crossing a finish line. It was such a satisfying image: me, toned (my cellulite magically erased) and... slightly taller? (See photo above downloaded from Tall, firm me running effortlessly. I'd be a runner! One of those people who happily get up at 5 a.m. to run before work. People who happily break through "the wall" and brag about finding their "second wind."

"If my big self can do it, a skinny person like you can do it," the coworker encouraged. "Besides, you don't have to run. You can walk it." Ah, but I KNOW I can walk 5K. That's not brag-worthy. Half the fun of the vision is that in it, people say, "What did you do this weekend?" and I respond, "I ran a 5k." I'd be like my Alex P. Keaton boss at the Business Record. He and his wife were beautiful, athletic, workaholic reporters who spent their spare time romping with their Weimereiner or training to climb Denali (AKA Mount McKinley to us non-climbers). Anyway, my fantasy of being like them was interrupted by an insistant voice: the "Hell, no" voice.

The voice brought with it a vision: Me in ninth grade with my lungs burning as I tried to pass the President's Physical Fitness Test. Me in eighth grade hocking up great wads of phlegm as I rounded the punishing final lap of the 1500, which was my event in track. During a meet, I would run the 1500 -- aka a mile -- then the 800, then the 400 leg of the distance medley. Oh, I hated it. I wheezed my way through it and wondered if I had asthma. My parents said I didn't because they were used to my brother's serious asthma. Mine, by comparison, was mild enough to appear nonexistent to them. "You're just out of condition," Dad would say. "You need to train more." In high school my cheerleading coach heard me wheeze, sent me to the doctor and I got an inhaler. That made running less wheezy and phlegmy, but not much more fun.

Once in a while, I like to race down an open path with the wind in my hair, but most of my sustained attempts have been disasterous. I shall now exorcise the trackstar delusion:

Once, when I was running a 1500, it began to sleet. Running a mile? Miserable. Running a mile in sleet? There are no words. But adding insult to injury, when we reached the finish line, there was no one there! We all stood there, shivering, looking around in confusion. Visibility had gotten so bad, they'd cancelled the track meet DURING THE RACE. We trudged back to the bus where the rest of the track team was cuddling cosily. As we dripped our way onto the bus, they tried not to laugh at our sodden misery, but in the end could not help themselves. It was an hour drive home.

Another time, as I was running, someone stepped onto the track. When you're running long distance, it's like you're too tired to dash around someone, too tired to yell at them to move. I dredged up just enough energy to call out, "Track!" The girl had no idea what that meant, and someone dragged her off the track just as I would have plowed into her. It was distressing because I was like a machine. I couldn't think or change. All I could do was stay between those white lines.

Oh, and once I got all phlegmmy while running (asthma does that), and I spit, and a strong gust of wind blew the spit onto my friend Dawn's leg. Oops. She got really mad, and I wiped off her leg and let her spit on me to make it even. Hee. Okay, I actually kind of like that memory. I think for me, that's what running should stay: a memory.

P.S. PLEASE STOP THE BEEPING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Wonderful weekend/ A realization

After a sucky, emotional week, this weekend was like a breath of fresh air. After work on Friday, I went out with my friends (Laura, Ryan, Madrid, Chris and Carolina) at Valhalla. We talked about the various forms of turmoil we're going through. Carolina seems relatively content. Chris is trying to schedule all his grad school work. Madrid hates our school and she has a job interview, but she's afraid she'll hate that job, too, because it's at a middle school. Laura hates her school, but loves teaching kindergarten (and those jobs are impossible to find). Ryan loves his job, but the hours they make him work mean he'll never have time for his band (the new one, because Who By Fire just broke up) or for Laura. And then there's me. I'm in love for the first time, and now I may have to leave him if I want to fulfill my career dreams.

After hours of talking and laughing with my friends at the bar, I hopped on a train to Brooklyn. When I got to his apartment, I found he had bought me a present: a tiny, perfect raspberry cheesecake. We had a nice night, which included a candlelit bath. Saturday, we woke up at 7:30 a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep. We got up, had breakfast and eventually went out for lunch. It was Italian, and it was scrumptious. Then we wandered around a cute neighborhood of Brooklyn shopping for fresh food and such. We soaked up some sunlight before heading back to the car. When we returned to the apartment, we took a long nap. We made yummy turkey sandwiches and fresh oranges and cheesecake for supper. Deborah called to invite us to "two parties...they'll probably be bad."

Tom wanted to go. I was tired and did not. I told him, "I don't really want to go, but I do want to make you happy. So it's up to you." "Thanks for being honest." But then, later, he said, "As the weather gets warmer, I'm going to want to go out more. You're going to have to fake some enthusiasm." We noticed a few things. 1- Tom likes to go out more than I do...a lot more. He likes to go out five days a week. I'm more comfortable with three...if that. 2- I drag my feet when he wants to go out, but once I actually get out I have a great time. 3- Hopefully, as the year progresses and I'm under less stress, I'll be in more of a going-out-mood, but if not we'll have to strike some kind of balance.

And today, after breakfast but before lunch, we discussed the distinct possibility that I may be moving to Virginia this summer. I told him, "I hope you take what I'm about to say as a compliment: If it weren't for you, I'd be bouncing off the walls and jumping for joy about grad school. I finally fall in love, and now I may have to leave. I know we're not in a place where I can plan my future around us, and it sucks that I have to decide now whether I will leave you then."

"Yeah," he said with a laugh, "No pressure. If it weren't for me, you'd be all, 'See ya', suckers, I'm goin' to Virginia!'" But then he got serious: "Look, I'm only going to say this once. Don't make any decisions you'll regret for me."

"I won't," I replied, "That wouldn't be fair to either of us."

Then he admitted that he'd resigned himself to this when I told him I was looking into it, months and months ago (October or November) when we wandered through the Columbia University campus. He resigned himself to it, but suggested I apply to some schools in the city. Tom let himself fall for me, knowing that I might be leaving. I am so upset right now that none of the NY schools seem to be working out (there's still a little hope for Brooklyn College, but it's a longshot due to some paperwork they lost. Do I want to attend a school that looses such important paperwork?)

At this moment, it looks like I'm going to accept the TA position at Old Dominion. I'll keep looking into Brooklyn College and I'll also do some job hunting. Maybe there's some career I could love, but just never considered. And in the mean time, Tom and I are just enjoying what we have together for as long as we have it.

It's like what I learned from Noah, my nephew, who was born two months early and lived only a month. A part of me kept sending out this warning: "You may loose him. Don't get too attached." But it was impossible. You couldn't see and touch and talk to that baby, beautiful and as small as my hand, without falling in love with him.

You can't withhold love just because things might not work out. If everyone did that, we'd have a cold world full of people hiding behind armor. You have to love as much as you can while you can. You have to risk breaking your heart. Even knowing that I may be breaking my own heart slowly, being with him makes me feel more peaceful and happy than I've felt for so long. Tonight, as he drove me home, I held his hand for miles. My only thought was how nice it felt, the sun on my face and his hand in mine.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Erin Go Bragh! Also, grad school drama!

Saturday, Saint Patrick's Day, Tom and I decided to join his friends at a pub to celebrate. There were beers and darts and complimentary cornbeef, cabbage, potatoes and rye bread. YUM! Tom and Becker were not triumphant at darts, unfortunately. In fact, the winner was unclear because James managed to shoot one of his darts INTO a dart that was already wedged into the bullseye. Dom maintained it doesn't count if the dart doesn't touch the board. Others maintained that they were tired of playing darts, and the shot was so cool they should let it count.

After that, Tom and I stopped at a bodega where I bought chips and cookies. Then we met back up with Tom's friends at another bar where we drank two buckets of beer (each bucket containing six little bottles of beer). Then we moved on to the Carriage House for many fun hours of Karaoke. I stuck to being a backup singer and dancer, partly because I was tired and out-of-voice and partly because Tom's friends were all burning up the mic like rock stars! I was intimidated.

Tom and I schlepped home to bed, then just managed to drag ourselves out of bed in time to get ready for Irish breakfast (green pancakes, green eggs, potatoes, bacon and soda bread) at his friends' place. En masse I would describe Tom's friends as fun, generous people who can sing, dance, throw a great party and cook some delicious food.

We went to the Brooklyn St.Patrick's Day parade. It was cute: mostly a few troupes of bagpipers, glockenspeilers (I have no idea how to spell that), Irish step dancing kids, boyscouts and firefighters. What they were missing? Candy! At parades in Iowa, they throw candy. Okay, some killjoys are trying to quash the tradition because they're afraid kids will run into the street and get hit while trying to retrieve the candy, but has that ever happened? And if so, where were the kid's parents? Where was the kid's common sense? You get the candy on the sidewalk. Going for the candy that lands in the street isn't just dangerous. It's greedy! Anywho, NYC parades should add the flinging of Tootsie Rolls. At least there were horses. Midwestern parades always include horses. After the parade, we went back to the apartment for and chocolate Guiness cake. You wouldn't think chocolate and beer would be a yummy combination, but it surely is.

We went back to the apartment for a little indoor picnic while watching Simpsons and Arrested Development. Late that night, I got home only to find I had been rejected by my second choice college (Hunter). Wah!

Monday was uneventful. So was Tuesday, although that night I met up with Tom at La Paloma for my favorite burritos. Then we went to Valhalla for drinks and met up with Tori for the Jolly Ship Whizbang, a puppet pirate rock opera. It was awesome. A friend of Tom's is in the band.

Wednesday, my assistant principle told me a lesson of mine she had observed was unsatisfactory. That rating was unfounded, as her largest point of contention was with an element of the lesson she'd approved durinig the preobservation meeting. I'm filing a grievance. I'm tired of playing nice. At the time, though, it was a real blow. First I'd gotten rejected by my two best chances at leaving my crappy job to pursue my dream. Then my boss went after me. Well, when you're at the bottom, there's nowhere to go but up, right?

Which brings us to today. It was a horrid day of teaching. When my A.P. was giving an observation next door, my class (804) got so loud she had to come over to ask them to be quiet. It was humiliating, but I found out the teacher who had them before me and the teacher who got them after me all had to call the deans to help because the class was being so nuts. But I got home and...skinny envelope.

There was a skinny envelope from Old Dominion. I opened it and discovered...they were pleased to offer me admission, a $10,000 teaching assistantship and a partial tuition grant. Wow! Apparently, when it comes to grad school, the skinny envelope is not the kiss of death. So my poetry doesn't suck after all! (I think my stuff is a little to rural to suit NYC colleges' tastes.) A school does want me! But could I really leave my life, my friends, New York, to go to college in Virginia? I know I want to go for my MFA, but I'm tired of starting my life over. I guess I just have to hope Brooklyn college accepts me, makes me a better offer and I like the place.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Except for a cryptic "Say Anything" quote, I haven't posted in 16 days, so I thought I'd bring things up to speed. I did indeed end up going out on March 3 with my friends at Niagra in the Village. We had a nice time chatting. I think I cleaned my room on March 4 (exciting, right?). I worked all week, though I have no memory of it at all. I guessing it was miserable and the children were naughty. It's a pretty safe bet at this point.

On March 9, I'm pretty sure I met up with my friends for Thai food. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure Tom spent the night that night and Saturday night. Huh. On Sunday, March 11, I do know for sure that we walked in the sun and got brunch at Melba's. It was amazing food with the thickest-cut bacon and lightest waffles I've ever had. You know what's weird? Entire weeks of my life have apparently been erased from my memory, but waffles remain.

Monday and Tuesday (March 12 & 13) are also part of the blur. Wednesday I had dinner with Tom. We walked around in snowy Brooklyn. Then we had a fancy dinner. During a particularly contentious theological debate, I ended up telling Tom I love him. He responded, "Thanks, but I don't know what to say," which was rather upsetting and spawned the Cusack quotation. Well, he also said that he didn't want me to think he wasn't taking our relationship seriously, and if he he wasn't we wouldn't still be dating. Okay. Then we went for cheesecake, which was delicious despite the circumstances.

I spent the next day pretty miserable. I tried a little retail therapy, buying two cute dresses and H&M and then spending the last of my Teacher's Choice money at Staples (in NYC they give us $225 to spend on school supplies. Actually, I've long since spent it, but I misplaced some receipts, so I was re-spending my Teacher's Choice cash. Honestly, it just puts a dent in what we all end up spending. Anyway...) That cheered me up a bit. Then Tom and I had an awkward phone conversation. I got very little sleep that night. Friday was awful (horrid children and administrators.) I got home and found my top-choice college (Sarah Lawrence) had rejected my application.

We all trudged through the snow to meet at El Cantinero in the Village. I was pretty darn miserable by that point. Madrid left us after dinner, but Laura, Tom and I moved on to Lit Lounge where Who By Fire (Laura's boyfriend Ryan's band) was playing. Riza and Pete were there, too. The band had a tough show with technical difficulties, but we still had fun. I doled out strawberries that I'd brought with me (they would have gone bad if I'd left them in the fridge all weekend).

Tom and I went to Brooklyn and fell, exhausted, into bed. "Hey, Erin," Tom said, "You know I love you, right?" A million pounds slid off my shoulders, and I kissed him. Moments later, I said to him, "You know you scared the shit out of me, right?" "I'm sorry," he replied. "I don't know why I didn't say it sooner. It's just...I didn't expect you to say it when you did. It wasn't on the tip of my tongue. It was caught in the back of my throat. Then you were so upset. I wanted to say it, but I didn't want you to think I was just saying it to..." "Make me feel better?" "Exactly."

Later we were having some silly conversation about how different people perceive things differently. For example, once I thought I smelled something sweet when he thought he smelled trash. "I can't believe I love someone who likes the smell of garbage." I don't actually like the smell of garbage, but I do like him working love into casual conversation. The freak-out? It is over.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Say Anything...

"I gave her my heart and she gave me a pen," Lloyd said.

Oh, Lloyd Dobler, I am feeling your pain...



Saturday, March 03, 2007

Back to my NYC life

Friday, February 23, I flew home, arriving an hour late. Luckily, I'd called to complain to Tom. He'd been planning to surprise me at the airport, and would have been pretty frustrated if he's waited all that time. I didn't know how long my delay was going to be, so I told him I'd call when I got home. He came to visit me in the city. We ordered in some yummy Chinese food.

After a couple days of my normal diet and walking aroung the city, I felt better than I had when I first got home. As mentioned in my last post, Grandma stuffed me with restaurant food. I think lack of exercise on vacation threw me off, too. I'm used to walking a lot, quite quickly. In Arizona, I didn't walk much, and when I did, it usually had to be at a pace my grandfather could match while toting his oxygen tank. That said, it was hard to see my grandfather (who had been very active, even building houses for Habitat for Humanity just a few years ago) so run down. On the other hand, he was not nearly as bad as I'd feared. The worst part was how he doesn't like to leave the house much because he gets tired. He was a farmer; he's not meant to sit around indoors.

Tom and I hung out a lot over the weekend. Then on Monday, it was a pretty snow storm and going back to school. The less said about the whole teaching thing, the better. I don't remember anyone doing anything cute, although my 703 students did write some great poetry. Wednesday I had to leave work a little early to pick up a transcript from Fordham and take it the Brooklyn to file for a salary differential (a.k.a. a raise) for graduating. My school was annoying about it , but it was worth the hassle.

Even though the snow had just melted the day before, it felt like spring! I never realize how much winter's lack of light depresses me until spring comes and I'm just so happy! Tom met me when he got off work and commented on my euphoria.

"Remember, I warned you once: 'If you know me in the spring, you'll see. I'll be like a whole new person.' I hope you like happy, springtime me."

"Me, too. I guess we'll find out," he teased. "Can you imagine? 'Oh, I miss depressed Erin.'" We laughed. Then we went and had fish and chips and split a fried Snickers bar. (I know, that's as crazy as anything I ate on vacation!)

Thurday I went to the dentist. She wants to fix (for free) something she doesn't like about a filling she gave me last year, and she doesn't see and cavities (Yay!) but she does she a spot that concerns her. (Boo.) Also, I have this tooth that I got a root canal for several years ago. It bothers me off and on because they didn't fill the ... canal, I guess?...all the way. Besides, it doesn't fit flush to my gum. If the tooth doesn't bother me, I should leave it alone, but what if it bothers me after I quit teaching and lose my nifty insurance? With the nifty insurance it will cost at least $100, and my dentist says the crowns my insurance co. recommends aren't that good, so I should chip in $350 for better ones. Ouch. That may hurt more than the tooth ache ever has. On the other hand, I don't want an ugly, cheap crown that I'll just have to replace AGAIN! I have no idea what to do. Oh, well.

Then I went to the doctor. Warning: too much information may follow! To avoid it, skip to the next paragraph. I have another urinary tract infection. I've had five this year, and the doctor says if I get one more, I have to go to a urologist. Sheesh! He also gave some prevention advice, the most interesting of which is that my boyfriend has to wash up before he can touch me. Hee! Now I have this image in my head of him scrubbing up like a surgeon before we go to bet, entering the room with his hands in the air, purposely not touching anything.

Last night, I was on my own. Tom's chaperoning his school's senior trip, and all my girlfriends planned to snuggle with their honeys. I came home and watched Stranger Than Fiction with Rick. It's a quirky movie, and we enjoyed it. We don't often hang out, but it was kind of nice.

I feel like I've been lazy today, but so far I've finished reading John Irving's "A Prayer for Owen Meany," watched "Citizen Kane" (which I've been meaning to do for years), checked my e-mail, researched college financial aid, had a conversation with Tom and made an appointment to go to H&R Block for help with my taxes. And now I'm updating my blog! Not bad. Tonight I may meet up with my friends in The Village. Good luck to you all on a productive and/or happy weekend.