The Road to Farley

The Road to Farley

Monday, June 27, 2011

Neda Ulaby and other interesting names

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am an NPR fanatic. I hang on every word that comes out of Bob Edwards', Sylvia Pojole's, Nina Totenberg's, Cokie Roberts', Mandalit del Barco's, Ira Glass', David Sedaris', Tom and Ray Magliozzi's, Dick Gordon's, Lynne Rosetto Kasper's, and Lakshmi Singh's mouths. To be truthful, the only NPR show that I can't stand is Prairie Home Companion. There is something about Garrison Keillor's voice that just irritates me, and all those odd Minnesota stories conjure up weird memories of my early career days in Minnesota where I met some full on Norwegian types.

Today, when I was driving to meet two co-workers for dinner, Neda Ulaby was reporting on the use of "That's racist!" as a common retort used by kids these days. If you missed the story, you can listen to it and read about it here. As I listened to the story, I recalled that I, too, have sometimes jokingly made this comment about things that truly had no correlation to the ugly reality of racism.

When I got home, I opened the front door to let Bailey out. I noticed that my neighbor was walking his dog, a young pit bull mix, across our common green space. Because I hadn't planned on putting Bailey's leash on, I waited inside the door for him to pass. I realized that he was motioning for me to come out. When I got out on my step, he commented that his dog is "super friendly" and he starts walking toward me. I explain that Bailey is "super old." He then replies, "Oh, I see, OK" and turns around but continues to say that his dog is friendly.

Now, I never doubted that his dog was anything but friendly, but the dog is clearly young and exuberant. My neighbor is a young fit man, but he was having to strain to keep the dog on the leash in check. Bailey is not a dog's dog. And, especially, she doesn't like bigger hyper dogs who get all up in her face. I'm quite certain she would have given this dog the growl and most likely the snap. So, as my neighbor walked away, what was running through my head was  "That's racist!"

You see, my neighbor is a young black man. As I watched him going up the street with his dog and Bailey was doing her business 5 feet from the door, I felt guilty. Does he think that I was afraid of him? Does he think I assumed he was like Michael Vick and his pit bull mix dog is a trained fighter? Both, of course, are not at all what I was thinking. I thought I was being a considerate dog owner for letting him pass by before Bailey and I came out the door, particularly because I was "breaking Iowa City code" by having Bailey off-leash.

What was he thinking about me? Did he think I was typecasting him and his dog? Did he think I was intolerant? Did he think, "God, what a bitch! I've seen her walking her dog for a year now and just wanted to say hello."

As the NPR story reported:
Regina N. Bradley, who teaches classes in African American literature at Florida State University, says she thinks kids are using "that's racist," to establish that they're not — but even the college students she teaches get confused about the difference between race and race issues. Saying "that's racist" is sometimes a way to get out of difficult discussions about race, she says — which is still a sensitive topic.

Next time my neighbor and I are out walking our dogs, I'll introduce myself and hopefully avoid awkward moments in the future.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Lazy Sunday

I do love me a Sunday with nothing to do. I've been on the move the past three weekends. Today, I anticipated my Sunday with no plans like a kid on Christmas Eve. I moved from the bed to the couch at around 8 a.m. and lounged there until about 10:30. I was moving in and out of consciousness at that point. You know that "oh my God, somebody drugged me, I can't move feeling..." That's where I was.

So, I forced myself off the couch and went to the gym. I'm on Week 2 of my "Couch to 5K" program and needed to get one more workout in this week to keep pace with the program. I still dislike running, and I dislike running on the track even more. But, I haven't thrown in the towel yet. Still working toward that 5K in October. Good thing that's still three full months away. I don't feel like my progress is very good at this juncture. Then, for the first time in years, I got in the pool for some lap swimming. What a feeling....refreshing, peaceful, easy on the body.

Back home....back on the couch. Wow....I think the lap swimming zapped all remaining energy. Christ I'm tired. Another two hour nap. I've been glued to the TV all afternoon, too, taking full advantage of the free HBO/Cinemax weekend compliments of Mediacom. Of course, mostly what I've watched are movies I've seen 25 times. Still love "Waiting to Exhale" with pre-crackhead Whitney Houston. Now, Ocean's 11, with a really stellar cast including Don Cheadle!!

Six more hours before I'll think about going to bed. Most of that time will be spent right here on the couch. I guess this is pretty much what Bailey's day is like. Damn, she's lucky.

The only thing better than a Sunday with no plans is a three-day weekend with no plans! Bring on next weekend and the Independence Day holiday.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Thank You For Being a Friend

On my 4.5 hour drive back from Minneapolis this afternoon, I had time to reflect on how blessed I am to have such fabulous friends. As I cruised south on Highway 52, I kept hearing the song: 
Thank you for being a friend

Traveled down the road and back again
your heart is true you're a pal and a confidant
I'm not ashamed to say
I hope it always will stay this way
My hat is off, won't you stand up and take a bow

And when we both get older
With walking canes and hair of gray
Have no fear, even though it's hard to hear
I will stand real close and say,
Thank you for being a friend.
By the luck of the draw, really, you can be dealt a royal flush when it comes to your family or, sometimes, you are dealt some really crappy cards and come up with nothing.

But when it comes to your friends, you have choices. I am profoundly grateful for my friends--friendships that began in kindergarten that are comfortable and grounding to friendships that are still newly forming and that make me think in new ways and find appreciation in things I had taken for granted. Friendships begun based on a single common thread, with a classmate or co-worker, but friendships that grew because of deeper threads that reinforced the friendship.

When I think collectively of my friends, I think in some ways they are all very similar. But, really, they are all very different and each enriches my life in unique ways. I can't explain exactly why one or the other has become such an important part of my life. But, when I don't see a friend or communicate with a friend for some time, there is a definite void that is not automatically filled by another friend.

My friends know when I am down, can make me laugh almost on demand, and are hopeful for a world that should be better than it is now. We are comfortable in each other's presence and can relish the quiet times shared when two friends are merely sitting in the sun enjoying the company of the other without the need to fill each minute with chatter.

Thank you, my friends, you know who you are.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

If only I was 50 now...

I would have been a contender at the Farley "Kick Off to Summer" 2 mile run/walk.

I'll start with the back story...

About a week ago, two of my co-workers planted a seed in my head to join them in a 5K run in October. Let me set the record straight...I am not a runner. I went out for track once in the 8th grade. I threw the shot put. Oh, I think my coach probably put me in some other races, but I know I was never a winner. This body is not built for speed. However, I have always been one to jump on the bandwagon and give in to peer pressure, so although I haven't completely committed to running the 5K, I haven't abandoned the idea either. In fact, last weekend, I spent about two hours googling "fat person running 5K." Yes, there are numerous blogs and posts on this topic. I probably should have googled "fat old person running 5K" now that I think about it.

Last night (Friday), I show up in Farley and my sister tells me that she is getting up at 6:30 a.m. to participate in the Farley 2 mile run/walk. My sister getting up at 6:30 in and of itself is a small miracle that I had to witness. She asked if I wanted to go, so I said sure -- thinking it would be a good pre-test, if you will, of my abilities to run a 5K in October. Now, bear in mind that this was a completely spur of the moment decision; therefore, I did not have my running shoes, my sports bra, my iPod, or any of my other normal "I'm going to work out" gear. Additionally, I was meeting two life-long friends, Jean and Bob, for dinner on Friday night.

Lesson #1: It is probably not the best idea to drink 4 beers and 2 Bombay and tonics within 12 hours of attempting to "run" a 2 mile race. On a normal day, that would be cause to make me lie on the couch for several hours to shake the fuzziness in my head. I did take advantage of the opportunity to "carb load" by eating a ginormous plate of lobster ravioli for dinner.

This morning at 6:15, I waited anxiously in bed to see if Kathy was truly going to get up. Damn...I heard her rustling around in her room. Not to be outdone, I sprang out of bed, still trying to shake the fuzziness of last night's alcohol.

We get up to the Farley Park and check in for the race. There was the 2 mile run/walk that we were doing and an 8K for the more serious runners. I had great visions of running at least a mile. Ummm, yeah, that barely lasted until I made my way out of the park.

Lesson #2: Without my running shoes, I immediately started getting cramps in my shins. "Power through, power through" that's all I kept thinking. Then, without my sports bra...well, there was a lot of ... should I say "motion" going on. I felt a little self-conscious...but...what the hell, it's just Farley.

One of my motivations for doing this little jaunt was feeling secure in the notion that at least I would not come in last. Surely I could beat Kathy because she wasn't planning to run at all. I gained a couple of other lessons if I'm really going to try to do the 5K.

Lesson #3: I'm going to have to get off the treadmill and get outside to run. I need a lot of "data" when I run. I need my iPod, I need to be able to watch Bravo with closed captioning, I need to know my incline, my speed, how many minutes I've been running, how many minutes I have left, how far I've run, my average overall speed, the number of calories burned, I need a fan blowing cool air in my face. I said I am not a runner. I need a lot of distractions. Running outside on hard concrete, in the humidity, with unplanned hills, and lots of bugs flying in my face was just downright uncomfortable.

Lesson #4: Start out slow. My exuberance got the best of me, and I flew off the starting line. That lasted all of about 200 yards. Dammit...see, I needed to know my speed. Pace myself...I'm sure that was my problem. My physical condition had nothing to do with it!

In the end:
  • I finished the race in 26:13. I pretended not to notice that the winner was a 12 year old girl who finished in like 13 minutes. I swear she cheated.
  • I wasn't last..I beat Kathy and some moms pushing double strollers.
  • I finished 3 minutes ahead of the guy who won the 8K. I was happy that at least I didn't get lapped by that crowd.
  • If I was already 50, I would have won my age group. The winner for the 50-59 group clocked in behind Kathy at 29:55. Next year--that medal is mine!
Here are a few snaps of Kathy and me, in our first official race.

Kathy on the inhaler after crossing the finish line.

I'm hot...and I'm not talking Paris Hilton hot.

Thank God...she'd didn't go DFO on me.

Sisters, are doin' for themselves...