Week 26

Woohoo – officially six months into the year, and I’ve kept my resolutions! Well, most of them. Stretching has sort of fallen off my radar, but that’s because it wasn’t doing any favors to my hips. I should look at trying to incorporate stretching into my routine one day a week… but we all know how that goes.

Anyway, it wasn’t the greatest week for planks and push-ups. I did them, but I missed Wednesday and Thursday due to a migraine and then Friday because I had a drink at the Mountain Tiki Bar called Confusion. If you’re ever in Estes Park, I highly recommend both the bar and the drink. When I did complete the planks, they were held at 2:35 and I’m sticking with two sets of 10 reps on the push-ups.

I never made it up Twin Sisters, either. We did a massive cleaning of our apartment on Saturday, and laying out in the sun with the latest issue of Women’s Health seemed much more appealing than hiking in the heat. Sunday was much of the same, with blog work to be completed, grocery shopping to tackle (not fun with swarms of idiotic tourists in town) and more baking in the sun with WH (sunscreen involved, of course).

Besides, it was my last weekend before my 15k training plan commenced. I had to take advantage of the laziness!

TBT: We Never Were Friends

Sometimes it takes a conversation with a great friend – your best friend – to see that someone you thought was your friend never really was.

Looking back, it’s pretty easy to see that the relationship I mistakenly called a friendship for so long never was one. I had multiple people in my life tell me this, but you know how it is: you have to see something for yourself before it really sinks in.

I don’t know why I clung to this false friendship for so long, other than I can’t stand it when people don’t like me so I try desperately hard to win them over; and this relationship was an amusing source of gossip (schadenfreude, if you will); and I’ll have to see this person again at some point in my life so severing ties feels odd. Now she’s moved over to the pile of other people I’ve cut loose, family or not. The dead weight is gone from my shoulders.

Friends don’t use your insecurities against you. Friends don’t run to your greatest enemy and blurt out all your secrets. Hell, friends don’t talk behind your back at all unless it’s to share your good news with someone who cares about you. Shame on me for giving her so many chances. Shame on me for being hopelessly optimistic (keyword: hopelessly).

Fool me once… fool me twice… but I’ve been fooled way more than this and still I clung on and still I gave more chances. I even confronted her and gave her an out! Shame on me for thinking this person could be a sincere, honest person. I had no reason to believe she could be anything but deceptive and manipulative.

So I say goodbye without really speaking the word. As of right now, I don’t feel like there’s a point to confronting her again. She still won’t get it. She’ll just turn it against me. Not to my face, of course, but she will. Looking back at our relationship, there’s not a whole hell of a lot for me to be sad about. There’s not a whole hell of a lot to mourn. Life will go on without her – and life will be a lot nicer without her backstabbing presence.

I just wish it hadn’t taken me four years to see it. Shame on me!

Some New Insanity

I have a new insane idea floating around in my dome: hiking Longs Peak.

Hear me out friends, hear me out. I know I have often said, “I have no desire whatsoever to climb Longs Peak.” That’s still pretty true, except for my natural curiosity. But my friend Josh wants me to hike Half Dome in Yosemite with him in a few years, and even just looking at photos of the cables gives me the willies. I can’t imagine actually doing it without massive amounts of panic!

So I’ve come to a couple conclusions in the past few days:

1. Fine, I’ll go along with Josh and just won’t summit. He can’t make me! I know he’ll try… but he can’t!

2. Well, what if I hike Longs Peak to prove to myself I can conquer anything?

This morning I Googled Longs Peak vs Half Dome and saw that the general consensus is this: Longs Peak seems to be way harder than Half Dome, cables or not. Longs Peak involves much more scrambling, and the altitude can be a real killer.

Obviously, if I’m going to do this, it’s not going to be this summer. I don’t feel like I have enough time to get ready for such an excursion. I also need someone to go with, and I’d prefer to go with someone I know has done the trail a number of times. Besides, you have such a short window in August (if it opens at all…) to climb Longs, there’s just a lot more planning involved than what I’ve committed to.

Who knows? A lot can change in a year. But then again, who knows? I might actually summit Longs Peak.

Dear derziriff

Dd: I Can’t Stand My Coworker!

Welcome to the first installment of Dear derziriff! Each week, I’ll answer your burning questions with useful, common sense advice. Ask me anything: I know a little about a lot.

Dear derziriff,

My coworker makes my blood pressure soar. How do I work with someone I can’t stand?

Angry at Work

Dear AAW,

Oh yes, the dreaded coworker you can’t stand. We all have one (well, one if you’re lucky – several if you’re not). Going to work and knowing you’ll be dealing with someone who instantly sets you on edge is rough, but it’s a part of life. Being an adult often means dealing with terrible people, unfortunately.

Step 1: Assess the situation. What is bothering you about this person? Are they a Bully? Are they a Negative Nancy? Are they a One-Upper? Is it their voice? Do they talk on the phone all day and do nothing? Are they a credit hog? Whatever it is, figure it out. You can’t improve the situation until you know what exactly bothers you.

Step 2: Assess yourself. Alright, so you figured out you’re dealing with a Negative Nancy. What are you doing to make the situation worse? Do you get an attitude every time they walk in your office? Do you bitch about them to other coworkers? Well knock it off!

Step 3: Make a plan for yourself. You know that nugget of wisdom: you can’t change other people, only how you react to them? It holds true here, too. If Negative Nancy dances into your office and plops down in front of your desk ready to unleash a torrent of sadness (or worse: delight at other people’s misery), it’s up to you to stay calm or remove yourself from the situation. As terrifying as it seems in your head, it’s going to be a hundred times better to say, “Hey, can I have a minute? I’ll come get you when I’m ready to talk,” than to get your hackles up and start snapping at her in irritation.

Step 4: Practice makes perfect. Don’t beat yourself up if you fall short of your plan. It’s not easy to stick to your guns 100% of the time. The more you practice setting boundaries, the easier it will get.

Things to Remember (or, All the Ifs):

  • If you make a plan for yourself and get really good at cooling your heels when this person barks up your tree, you’re the one who looks good. It’s a skill that will serve you well.
  • If someone is creating a hostile work environment for you and goes above and beyond being annoying to being downright devious, you need to talk to your supervisor and get the issue resolved. Remember to be proactive rather than reactive in this situation.
  • If you’re like me and you generally need time to calm down before blurting out something stupid, for God’s sake, TAKE IT. Don’t let your pride – or your temper – get in the way.
  • If this person really makes you doubt yourself, remember all the good things you do on a daily basis. If you need to, remember all the people who like you. A lot of times, people are a pain in the ass because they envy you.
  • If all else fails, work on shutting your emotions down with this person. Just get numb. They can’t hurt you if you don’t let them. Like most bullies, they will grow bored with you when you don’t react.
  • If this person is your boss, I hate to tell you, but you’re shit out of luck. It’s probably time to look for a new job. Sorry.

Do YOU have a question for me? Give me your questions and I’ll give you my answers! Send it to me and I’ll share my infinite wisdom.

Week 25

Another week dead and gone! I can’t believe June is almost over. Anyway, I slacked off a little more than usual last week with my planks and push-ups, only completing four days of my prescribed regimen. I held my planks at 2:30, and turned them into rotating planks (30 seconds on forearms, 30 seconds on right side, 30 seconds on forearms, 30 seconds on left side, 30 seconds on forearms). The rotations are a good exercise in balance too. Maybe what I should do is set a timer to see how long I can hold a stable plank. Currently I just use a countdown timer.

The exciting news is that I finally made it to two sets of 10 push-ups! I’m thrilled that nearly six months ago I was struggling to complete just a few push-ups and now I can do 20. Last week in boot camp I was able to bang them out in 50 seconds at one of the stations our instructor set up. I felt triumphant as the woman next to me did hers on her toes. I know class is not competition, but still… I was that woman a few months ago. Hard work pays off.

If my memory serves me correctly, my next training plan begins on June 29. Until then, sprinkling hikes into my week has been wonderful. I hiked to The Loch on Saturday and I felt like it was absolutely magical. There was a moment on the trail when I was completely alone, surrounded by breeze and singing birds, and I thought, This is the happiest moment of my whole entire life. As of right now, The Loch is hands-down the best hike I’ve ever done.

Because I believe I have one more weekend – must confirm with my training calendar when I arrive at work – I think I’ll do Twin Sisters for my final weekend of not running. Honestly, I probably won’t hike again until my mom gets here (55 days, according to the countdown in my phone). It’s just too hard to incorporate hikes and long runs into my schedule. Not to mention that the Park is a complete zoo right now. I’d rather steer clear.

The Superior

The first time I see Jenna, I know she’s a perfect fit.

She comes to the park, jogging stroller at the ready, kid buckled inside. Her eyes, although up and ready to meet the world, are nervous and flighty. I can sense the danger beneath her skin. I lick my lips and grinn broadly.

“Welcome! I’m River Phillips Lacroix. Is this your first time?”

“Hi!” Her voice is lilting and pleasant, like that of a Disney princess who’s been singing to woodland creatures her whole life. “Yes, I wanted to try out the class and lose some baby weight.” She chuckles nervously.

“Well, you’re in the right place. What’s your name?”

“Jenna.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Jenna,” I reply. “Why don’t you come on over to the circle and get set up? You’ll need a band and some weights.”

Exchanging pleasantries, as always, the other women welcome Jenna with open arms; they can sense her desperation as much as I can, but as class progresses, I shoot warning glances to each and every one of them.

Today would not be a Chant Day. This one frightens easily, I think.

After class ends, Jenna promises she’ll be back and leaves with sunshine practically shooting out of her ass. I watch her walk to her car. She is pudgy, but she has potential. Her hair is nice and straight, and her teeth are nice and white, and her eyes are nice and blue. She could join us. And that pudge will come right off. It always does, when you want to fit in.

Everyone wants to fit in with us.

*   *   *

At home, my husband gives me the usual beating and rape experience I’ve come to expect. My kids scream in their rooms in our cavernous house. I repair my makeup, my carefully constructed façade, and set to work cleaning. He likes a clean house. So do I.

*   *   *

Jenna progresses over the next few months, just as I thought she would. At first she follows the motions in class, hanging out at the back and lifting her sissy weights. Lately she’s been passing people on our runs. There’s a fierceness in her eyes when she does, like she thinks she can conquer anything. I often wonder what she’s running from.

We all run from something. It’s how our bodies stay tight. It’s how we look sexy.

It’s why we’re Superior.

*   *   *

The circles under Jenna’s eyes have darkened. At one point, they had started to fade and I got nervous that things were improving at home. When the circles are dark, she calls her husband Mike. When the circles are light, she calls him Michael. I notice odd things, but that’s what makes me strong.

One morning the circles are nearly eggplant colored. She’s ready.

Class ends. Everyone’s sweaty, and yet our makeup looks flawless. Jenna will learn how to apply her makeup to hide the eggplant circles; she just needs help to get there. We are that help. We gather into a tight circle, leaving the jogging strollers outside. She joins us without question. We loop our arms around each other’s shoulders and bow our heads together, foreheads touching, makeup mingling.

“We are the Chosen,” I say.

“We are the Chosen,” they repeat. I didn’t hear Jenna’s voice that time, but I know she’ll get it soon.

“We are the Beautiful,” I say.

We are the Beautiful.” I heard Jenna murmur on that one, like she didn’t know what to say.

“They are the Unfortunate.”

They are the Unfortunate.” Her voice is clearer now.

“They are the Inferior.”

They are the Inferior.” Some of the women’s voices have an edge of snarl to them.

“We are the Superior.”

We are the Superior.”

A tingling enters my chest, making my heart palpitate. My skin flushes to an almost magenta color. When I exhale, the tingling fills all of my veins. It doesn’t feel bad. I am energized.

We step back from each other. The others are full again, but Jenna looks confused and wary. As the other ladies leave, I hang back with her.

“What just happened?” she asks cautiously.

“We just protected ourselves for another week,” I explain. She looks puzzled, and I laugh gently, without embarrassing her. “Jenna, all of us have something that’s holding us back. I go home at night and my husband beats and fucks me until I bleed.” Jenna looks startled, but says nothing; it’s a story I’m used to telling, so I continue. “Jane Leslie Notting has a mother-in-law who intentionally smears her shit all over the house everyday. J.D. Green Wilcox knows her husband has a mistress because he doesn’t have the courtesy to hide it from her or from the neighbors. Missy Sullivan McCann is stuck with a compulsive gambler and doesn’t know how much longer she’ll be able to afford that McMansion she lives in. Are you getting the picture?”

She nods solemnly and her eyes look watery and huge.

“Now, Jenna, what do you need to be protected from?” I ask. I’m gruesomely excited to hear the answer, but my perfectly constructed face reveals nothing but caring and compassion.

She drops her head and whispers, “Mike shoots dope.”

Ah, dope. Of course. Her thrift shop workout gear, nervous countenance and reluctance to trust falls into place.

“We’re all friends here, Jenna. We protect each other. You don’t have to be embarrassed.” She bucks up a little, and I snap into leadership mode. “But you do have to be flawless. I can lend you money to get some new clothes. And I have some skin care products you can use. We should work on your makeup. If you’re going to be Superior, you need to look the part.”

“Superior? I still don’t understand,” she says, looking red after being called out on her appearance.

“We might all be profoundly unhappy, but that’s not what the world sees. When we’re out running together, other women see toned, tan, tight bodies in designer workout gear, effortlessly pushing strollers and laughing together. They hate us instantly. We cruise by them as they struggle to lift their feet, and they curse us. That’s how we get our energy. That’s how we protect ourselves. We need their envy. We need their insecurity.”

Jenna looks at me and I can tell she’s wondering if she’s losing her mind. I put a hand on her shoulder.

“Don’t you feel better right now?” I ask.

She pauses to consider, and frowns a little. “Actually, I do.

“That’s the Protection, Jenna. When you go home tonight and fight with Mike and wonder how someone who swore to love you and your daughter could lie to you and stab you in the back, it’s going to hurt just a little less. Over time, you’re going to get numb to it. It’s a beautiful thing. Give it a chance.”

I know I’ve got her. She doesn’t need to say a thing. The promise of taking the hurt away always gets them.

*   *   *

The first time I see Kyla, I know she’s a perfect fit.

She arrives at the park with jogging stroller and baby in tow, looking at the women chatting casually and aching to fit in. I smile wide and walk up to her.

“Welcome! I’m River Phillips Lacroix. Is this your first time?”

“Hi, I’m Kyla, and yes, this is my first time.” She struggles to smile and I think I even see some tears behind her eyes. “I need to get control of my body again.” The way she says it, I can imagine she thinks of herself as a disgusting manatee. True, she has some extra pounds, but nothing I can’t fix.

“You’ve come to the right place! You’ll need a resistance band and some weights. Go on over and join the circle. Everyone’s friendly here.” I smile gently.

Kyla walks over to the other women and I can see them greeting her warmly, and a little bit of her tension falls off. She sets up next to Jenna, and even though Kyla’s face stays serene and pleasant, I see what she’s thinking.

Jenna looks gorgeous. Her deep brown hair has grown past her shoulders and she has it swept into a mermaid tail braid. The eggplant circles under her eyes are hidden flawlessly, and her skin is smooth and taut. Her teeth are made whiter by her tan, and her blue eyes sparkle underneath their mascara. I’ve taught her well. In her form-fitting tank top and capris, she could make anyone feel Inferior.

“I’m Jenna Burns Whitney,” she introduces herself, smiling like a camera flash.

“I’m Kyla.” She looks around and her insecurity settles on her shoulders like a blanket. “I feel so out of place here.”

“Don’t worry, you’ll fit right in with us!” Jenna assures her.

I’ve taught her well, indeed.

Random Thursday Thoughts or… Rice in the Oven Mitt

This blog perfectly describes me: scattered, with many varied interests. I often have people ask me what my blog is about. I tell them it’s more like a censored journal than anything else. Remember Viva la Bam? Remember in the opening credits when it goes, “Bam Margera! What will he do next?” and then Bam goes, “Whatever the bleep I want!” That’s how I feel about this blog.

In that spirit, here are a couple of random thoughts I deemed blog-worthy.

First, the hilarious. Yesterday I returned from my run to find Erik golfing and so instead of making the honey mustard nut-crusted chicken I was going to make, I made buffalo chik’n wings instead. When it was time to turn my little nuggets over I grabbed an oven mitt, reached my hand inside and immediately pulled it back out, saying aloud, “What the hell is in there?!” The inside of the oven mitt did not feel right.

I took it to the sink and poured it inside. Here’s what I found:

06-18-15 001

If you can’t tell, that’s uncooked rice. The oven mitt had been filled with uncooked rice. Quite puzzling. Erik has no idea how it got there, but I blame him. Unless someone broke into our apartment just to put uncooked rice in one of our oven mitts, I am convinced he did it in his sleep or something.

Which reminds me of the time I told Deanna how Erik ate chocolate in the middle of the night and it ended up everywhere: all over the bed, all over his chest, all over his face, etc. She couldn’t stop laughing. Even now, I have trouble keeping my composure when I think about it.

My second story is heartwarming – at least for me. After being betrayed yet again (I know: shame on me) by someone I thought was my friend, I was in need of some love. First Caitlin texted to plan her trip out here. Then Melissa did. Then Chris did! All in a row. I feel bad because I actually had to turn Chris down. The timing just wouldn’t work because so many people are coming around the same time. It’s true what they say: the people who really care about you will make the effort to be in your life. I needed that reminder.