Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Last Mile

I did it. I ran my first 10k. Honestly, I really never thought I'd be able to do it. It just seemed so colossally big and beyond me, but now that I've done it, it seems like nothing.

Okay, not exactly nothing. Here's the thing: I undertrained. I really, really undertrained. I run 2-3 miles for my regular run, and by regular, I mean about twice a week. That's all I did in preparation for this 10k. I wanted to do more. I meant to do more. But I didn't. Instead I just visualized and mentally prepared and told myself I could do a combination walk/run thing after running the first 3 miles.

But then something happened. After mile 3 I thought, maybe just to mile 4. And then at mile 4 I thought, maybe just to mile 5. And what do you know, I can apparently run 5 miles, and not just that, but run 5 miles at a pace I find respectable, coming in at 53:38 for the first 5.

Then came mile 6, that evil, spirit crushing mile. Thanks to my new practice of running with other people which calls for a different kind of cardiovascular demand what with all the chatting I am apt to do, my lungs were doing great. They really were. My legs? Not so much. They. Were. So. Tired. I pushed through. I figured if I made it this far, I shouldn't walk the remainder of the way, but I really, really, really wanted to. So I walked for a second and realized that actually didn't feel any better and I might as well run.

Then up ahead of me, I saw signposts for the finish line and it looked really far away, discouragingly far away. I didn't think I could keep doing it, not with the muscles in my thighs giving out on me the way they were. I pushed and pushed. And then something dumb happened: I couldn't figure out where I was supposed to cross the road for the finish line. I know. I'm dumb. But that's the truth. Did I mention I was tired?

I finally figured it out, but between tiredness, laziness, confusion, and bad decision-making, I really blew that last mile. It took me 15 minutes to finish that stupid mile. I hate that mile. I want to blow that mile up.

And so what should be a victory is instead a disappointment. I ran my first 10k and I did more running than I thought I would be able, but that last mile is a thorn in my side. It's 15 minutes I will keep revisiting over and over again, a painful reminder of a moment of weakness I hope not to repeat.

I am trying to remind myself, girl, you just ran a 10k. That's pretty cool. But I want to be even cooler. Next time, mile 6, you will not best me. You will be mine for the conquering.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Trying to Matter

For their most recent assignment, my students had to participate in the public sphere in some capacity, whether that be by creating a blog, posting a video on Youtube, writing letters to the editor, or submitting political poetry or a literary essay to an appropriate venue. My hope is their participation will spark something in them, make them citizens, make them realize how very much they count.

Which begs the question: do our blogs count? Do they matter? Do we have readers who, if nothing else, we entertain briefly?

I went through my "Stats," a new tab available to me as I am posting a new blog. I can see how many views specific entries have received over the many years I have been writing this. It is entertaining to me to find that the entry that has received the most views is one where I have posted a picture of Mandy Moore's hair. I believe this to be the result of the intersection of Google Images and my little blog. It has received an awful lot of hits. That Mandy Moore really has a following, and so do I, because of her - it would seem.

But I think this blog (and that blog and that blog and that blog) does matter even beyond the star power of Mandy Moore. It matters because of how democratic it is. It matters because there is a forum. It matters because I am educated, and funny, and articulate, and a wife, and a mother, and a teacher, and because I'm very likeable and people are probably wondering how I got to be so great. Probably.

What is for certain and not hinging on probabilities is the beauty of the Internet. Here I am, girl in Tennessee, writing self-referentially about my own blog, wondering if I matter. And the Internet, in all its glory, gives me an outlet for all that meta-ness. Thank you, Internet. I will keep trying to matter.

Toward that end, I will just say this - I like having a blog. I like reading blogs. I hate that people who are interesting and inspiring and cute and charming and funny live so far away. Blogs make them closer. I want to hear about your politics, your kids, your careers, your shopping lists. It all matters very much to me. Keep writing. I promise to read it. I promise it matters, even if what we sometimes care the most about is how cute Mandy Moore's hair is.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The F Word and Other Growing Concerns

It's a dangerous line to straddle between believing in the power of language and refusing to hold on to that language too tightly when it comes to the great, beautiful swears like the F word.

Who knows what little ears can hold? Yesterday, Atticus and I bopped around to the Magnetic Fields 69 Love Songs, which all should agree is a mindblowingly good concept album. And if you know that much about the album in question, you also know that a) the bouncy silliness of it lends itself beautifully to Atticus's musical aesthetic (can it be danced to?), and b) a lot of the album's language is not appropriate to plant in the landscape of Atticus's fertile ears. Volume One (the superior of the three volumes), tracks 9 and 14 come to mind. Sure, pretending we're bunny rabbits sounds innocent enough ...

At one point do we need to edit, monitor, babymuff the things we say to ensure that our children do not use language we don't want them to? On the one hand, I don't want him to think language is a bad thing - any language at all. I want him to understand appropriate and inappropriate contexts for all language. But on the other hand, there is nothing even remotely charming about foul language coming out of a small child. I'm not talking about that one time they used a word they didn't know was bad. That can be adorable. I'm talking about bad words coming out of little mouths with intention. Not cool.

I don't want Atticus to be that kid. I want him to understand the pointed nature of some words, how they carry more weight, how they can slap someone across the face from across the room. I want him to save those words for when he's all grown up and needs them.

Until then, must I banish the Magnetic Fields and their ilk? Do I make a different version of the cd, of all of our lives, until he's ready for it? Childhood is a cleaned up version of the world. I'm cool with that. I'm cool with wiping down the scene for him. I'm just not sure where to begin.