Not To Be Dramatic

Have you ever been so sure you’ve done something, that when you come to the realization you did not do it, your world rattles?

I had planned a long weekend in Philadelphia with my favorite communities: writers and runners. AWP was back, and Sunday the Love Run had a celebratory half marathon through the city. Everything I could dream of, right?

The first few days in Philadelphia filled my soul: connecting with new and old writer friends, finally experiencing the punk-rock Tirefire Reading series, writing in the garden of the Rodin museum.

Things started to fall apart at packet pickup Friday afternoon. I was so excited to show my girlfriend the running community, to show her the ridiculous things we do to get hyped. As I tried to locate my bib number, my name was not showing up. So weird, I thought. It must be a glitch, I thought.

Then I considered—I was receiving promotional emails, but did I get a bib number reminder email? As the realization washed over me, I searched my email receipts for registration. I generally register when it first opens (can’t miss those discounts), so it had to be there. Right? It wasn’t. I ask Athlete Information if they have registration today. Nope. It completely closed on Wednesday.

Fighting tears in the convention center hallway (is it even a writing conference if you don’t cry in the convention center?), I’m panic texting my coach and another run friend. What should I do? What are the options? Extremely stubborn, I didn’t want to miss out on a race weekend I prepared for. We find that the B&A Trail Half Marathon still has spots. I text the AWP 2 Hype 2 House 2 Queer chat that I’m leaving that night. I get home, try to calm down and relax with my cats. I’m prepared physically, why should a little stress derail me? I started infusing humor as fast as I could, texting my coach, I should have opened this with I’ve made a huge mistake.

Not to brag or be dramatic, but the half marathon was the worst I have ever felt in a race. Perhaps because of the stress of the previous 48 hours, perhaps because I’ve been struggling with my ferritin and thyroid levels, perhaps because imbalances from years of chronic pain decided to flare in my back—everything was NOT GOOD.

The race didn’t begin that way. I started cruising around 7:45 pace. I was going for it, knowing all my workouts and long runs indicated this would be an easy start to push from there. My plan was to start pushing to bring it down to the 7:30s after the first third. I took my first gel around mile 4.5 and said bye to my friend, she was folding a workout into the race.

I wasn’t feeling bouncy or fresh, but I still felt like I could hold strong for the second half as I approached the turnaround. From years as a swimmer and past races, I knew I didn’t have to feel perfect to be able to dig deep. Around mile 8, my body started to rebel in all the ways: nausea, tightness in my back to the point that I could not drive my legs. All in all, NOT GOOD. Still, I know these things can pass.

I took my last gel around mile 8.5. I gave myself another pep talk. One bad mile wasn’t going to stop me. As I continued, things got worse. Total body pain. Nausea. Heaving. Why couldn’t I at least vomit and get it over with? That’s when I started to panic. The last time I felt this terrible in a race, it was before my first surgery in 2018. This was not a time to relive medical trauma! I turned up my music, asked Ashnikko to give me strength.

I was either slowing down to heave as I ran, or I was stopping to heave along the side of the B&A Trail. With only a few miles to go, I passed some of the Faster Bastards cheering. I told myself to dig deep and felt a surge of adrenaline as I passed them. I can salvage this, I thought.

Shortly after I was off the trail again. They jogged by and asked if I was okay. I said, no, but I’m going to finish. I heave-run-walked my way to the finish, keeping it together enough to cheer on runners passing me, to say hi to people I have only interacted with online.

A consistent training block

My final time was around an 8:30 pace, despite some 10 minute miles in there. While I am frustrated, I am so proud of this consistent training block. I stayed mentally strong in workouts. I felt relaxed in long runs. Despite dabbling in running for over a decade, I keep reminding myself that I haven’t truly been able to consistently run until being cleared for sport in August 2020 after my hysterectomy and second excision surgery. I’ve finally had a chance to build. After some rest, I’ll spend the spring and summer finding new limits on the roads and trails with the community. This is a hobby I love, even when it sucks. There are going to be challenging races along the way. Yesterday, I loved seeing friends reach their goals, knowing I will be in that place again.

A note because the pandemic isn’t over: I took a rapid test last night, I’ll take one later in the week, and I’ll wear my mask if there are places I must go.

Books I’m thinking about / recently read:

  • Other Girls to Burn by Caroline Crew
  • Unprotected by Billy Porter
  • My Life as a Villainess by Laura Lippman

Stay sweaty and glittery. Black Lives Matter.

“I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.”

Sylvia Plath has been swirling my head since writing group. An essay I brought to workshop was giving off Mad Girl’s Love Song vibes, and I am okay with that. I finally choked out some literary prose about chronic illness. I am a mad girl.

Speaking of choking—I didn’t post a blog last month, nor did I submit writing. Both are monthly goals I set for myself. However, those goals are to hold me accountable to consistent writing and revising. Instead of submitting, I spent a weekend in West Virginia, heavily revising and dumping out a few thousand words of the first draft of the above mentioned essay that made it to workshop. The piece finally feels like a breakthrough in prose writing.

I am better at seeing the process steps in writing. It’s like the memes that go around running Instagram—the bits of the iceberg you don’t see before the success. I can say I’m happy with a few thousand words in January. I also excavated a ton of old writing for a revision of my full-length poetry manuscript.

After I run, it’s like I immediately forget everything I’ve accomplished. A little over a week ago, I had a killer workout with my coach in relatively difficult conditions—20 degrees and wind. I ran 2 x 12 minutes comfortably faster than goal half marathon pace within a twelve mile run. Two days later, I was writing panicked recaps in my training log about how tired I was. Of course I was tired. I had a big workout and my body was recovering.

This week, we preemptively planned a day off after a moderate effort at the Baltimore Road Runner’s Club Cupid’s Crush. It was absolute joy through Druid Hill Park. I find joy in sprinting up hills—it must be the dopamine. I highly recommend runners in the DMV area put BRRC races on their calendar. Everyone from other runners to race volunteers encouraged each other in the small race.

Bright morning light reflected on patches of melting ice as we powered up and down the hills. We whispered you got this to each other as our lungs fought. I’ve missed these intimate gatherings. I’m signed up for the BRRC Super Bowl Trail Race this Sunday—maybe I’ll get my act together and post a timely race recap of my first trail race.

Books I’m thinking about / recently read:

Sylvia Plath Sylvia Plath Sylvia Plath Sylvia Plath

Stay sweaty and glittery. Black Lives Matter.

Ten Things I’ve Learned in 2021

I frequently think of a line from Leigh Stein’s collection, DISPATCH FROM THE FUTURE: Life is only too short if you’re having a good time. I want it to feel short, I want to feel a bit breathless and excited.

A good friend and I collaged this week. We were reflecting and planning after a big year leaving our past jobs for new opportunities. I felt compelled to memorialize my meandering thoughts in blog format. They’re a mix of running, creativity, chronic illness—you know, my life.

1. I have missed collaging. Through workshops with Cinder Hypki and making more cards this year, I plan to bring the practice back more frequently in 2022.

2. People will let you down. It’s not your obligation to change them.

3. I like books that can be frustrating. Well, I already knew this, but it was very clear when I read the new Sally Rooney. I kept wanting to scream go to therapy!!

4. I love racing for the comradery, but I am perfectly happy exploring running routes with no races to come.

5. I can paint a house in color.

6. A chronic illness is forever, but it’s not my full identity. I’m still working through this. Now that I’m not in daily pain, I’ve been learning how to manage my symptoms and set boundaries that prevent flare-ups.

7. I can make big changes, even if I can’t project exactly how they will change the future.

8. Calendar invitations are my love language. Send three dates and times, then let’s pick one. I can’t stand the back and forth of “I’m free whenever!” You’re not. I’m not. It’s stressful. Plus, as we’re still in a pandemic, I like to have my social time planned out so I am factoring in time between seeing people.

9. I would like to never feel obligated to sit in a loud bar again. My brain can’t process the background noise and focus on a conversation. Let’s sit outside forever. It’s beautiful anyway.

10. I process through lists and that is just fine. My favorite poems are in lists. Maybe everything is a poem.


Books I’m thinking about/recently read:

  • Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney
  • In the Belly of the Mirror by Tafisha Edwards
  • Dispatch from the Future by Leigh Stein

Stay sweaty and glittery. Black Lives Matter.

I’ll Remove the Cause

I have a half-finished draft about the races I ran over the past two months and grappling with disability as Covid boosters have limited availability—but I have not been able to finish it. If I’ve learned anything from getting an MFA, visiting authors, and participating in workshops, the block means I should flex my creativity in another way and return to the piece later. Perhaps it belongs in a longer form, pitched and submitted for payment. Anyway, call me if you are a literary agent.

Instead, I’ll write about my pandemic hobby: watching horror films. Even though I once wrote in a poem that I watch documentaries instead of horror films, I have always had a soft spot for them. Horror isn’t an escape. Horror is fear at the front of the brain. The dream where you know you are dreaming, but your consciousness is stuck in quicksand.

Or maybe it’s because of memory. My mom and I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer from the start together as I grew up. I have a special tradition with some friends to pick a horror film the night before a memorial 5k. Whatever the cause, even when I’m uncomfortable, I’m generally comforted by the genre.

In no particular order, I listed all the horror films I have watched since March 2020. Some have annotations, if I was moved to do so. I’m always looking for more, especially filling in the queer cannon, so please recommend any in the comments. Friends and the Internet “best of” lists helped build this.

Us (2019): OH MY GOD. AND THEN THE DANCING WITH THE STARS DANCE THIS YEAR?
Cursed (2004)
Teeth (2007)
Ginger Snaps (2000): This had the vibes I wanted Teeth to have.
Parasite (2019): Horror and commentary perfection.
The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
The Neon Demon (2016)
Prom Night (2008)
We Summon the Darkness (2020)
Jennifer’s Body (2009): How did no one sit me down to watch this before???
Nightbreed (1990)
The Evil Dead (1981): Practical effects freak me out more than CGI.
Hellraiser (1987): See above.
Lyle (2014)
Old (2021)
The Covenant (2006)
Sorry to Bother You (2018): Hulu told me it was horror! Isn’t any movie about capitalism?
Martin (1977)
Raw (2016): I don’t do gore. This wasn’t even that gory, but wowowow the intensity nearly had me hurling. I still loved the pacing of the film. It’s one of those “where is the horror in this” type of film.
The Babysitter (2017): I dug the camp.
The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2015)
Zombieland: Double Tap (2019)
The Invitation (2015)
The Strangers (2008): I will literally talk to anyone about why this film was a shift in the horror genre.
Girl on the Third Floor (2019): I wanted to see a professional wrestler star in a horror film.
Black Christmas (2019): Way better than I expected!
Promising Young Woman (2020): I couldn’t watch a movie for weeks after this. It’s everything I wanted from a revenge film. Carmen Maria Machado  wrote about it perfectly in How “Promising Young Woman” Refigures the Rape-Revenge Movie.  

Books I’m thinking about/recently read:
The Glass Hotel, Emily St. John Mandel (this would be a great atmospheric, slightly spooky film)

Stay sweaty and glittery. Black Lives Matter.

What’s your fantasy?

One of the few things that got me through Wednesday’s workout was fantasizing that I was Molly Seidel in the Olympic marathon. However, I was nowhere near her pace as I jammed out to Ludacris. I was a sight to see. Shoes squishing, wet shorts flapping, and neither from rain. Couldn’t it at least start raining for some relief?

My one year anniversary of back to running happened this week. Other than excitedly texting my coach, I gave it little fanfare. Well, I guess writing about it on the blog is some fanfare.

Pushing through the weather was a test of mindset change. I adjusted my goals and carried on. I checked in with my body—was I feeling faint? No. Was anything hurting? No. Keep going. The workout was not be speedy, but it was work on my feet. My coach reminded me to use the humidity and heat pace chart next time, but I did not dwell on pace in a training cycle where I’ve had so many on point runs. I 100% contribute this to the hysterectomy. Sure, I didn’t test positive for adenomyosis, but something was real fucked up in there. For anyone new to this blog, I had maybe 1 week a month that I wasn’t in crippling pain due to endometriosis and potentially adenomyosis. I quote a common refrain in the endometriosis community: We’re not faking being sick. We’re faking being well.

Since restarting seed cycling in earnest again a few months ago, I didn’t even notice mood swings this luteal phase. I’ve also learned so much about hydration and fueling from the Fuel for the Sole podcast by Believe in the Run with Meghann Featherstun. I started learning about nutrition in earnest from Caitlin Self in 2018. She taught me so much about inflammation and chronic conditions. Now, I’m at a place with limited symptoms, therefore can think more about small tweaks that can substantially improve my running.

All of these things—being able to focus on small bits of health, being very at peace with being uterless—come from the mindset change that exhibited in this week’s workout. In such an uncertain, traumatic year (let me count the ways), I am preparing myself for fall race cancellations. It’s not pessimistic to be realistic. The delta variant is raging. I’m mentally prepared to test my training cycle in a time trial and to pivot to more trail time.

My fantasy would not only to have fall races, but for everyone to get the vaccine. While we wait for those vaccinations to kick in, I dream that people would wear their masks because they care about their community.

Books I’m thinking about/recently read:

  • Postcolonial Love Poem, Natalie Diaz
  • Spirit Run, Noé Álvarez

Stay sweaty and glittery. Black Lives Matter.

Demons In Your Foot

With an acute injury or illness, there isn’t the this is your fault judgement that comes with chronic illness. No one says there are demons in your foot if it’s broken. No one says you deserve this. No one says that maybe if you did more yoga, ate kale, or got pregnant, you’d be cured of a broken bone. Rather, the healthcare team sets out with the goal: how do we fix this?

Having a chronic illness is the difference between walking into a doctor’s office and showing that something is visibly broken, versus walking into a doctor’s office with a list of symptoms that are deemed invisible. I’d say the effects of brain fog and pain aren’t invisible, but what do I know, I just live with them.

I’ve talked with quite a few people over the last month about their own endometriosis diagnoses. We’ve talked about what it means, and what they can do, where to find resources. Knowing that I put my story out there for people as a resource, receiving those messages still brings a wave of emotions. I know because I did (do) this to other people in the community too. You reach out to people when the healthcare system fails to give you answers. We’re speaking up at the doctor and being dismissed, so we go to each other.

I had so little information about returning to running after a hysterectomy. If you believe Google, your spine shrinks, you can literally do nothing fun ever again, and you become extremely unattractive overnight. This kind of information is on gynecological websites!! Luckily, I have a knowledgeable pelvic floor physical therapist. She kept me in check—that it would be a long recovery road, but there is no reason I wouldn’t be able to come back stronger.

February running was rough. I was also getting into contortion training, and because I never know my limits, I ended up freaking out my psoas muscles on both sides from overstretching. Every step hurt for most of the month. Every. Single. Step. I was terrified at first, then after figuring out more of what I did to myself (woops) with my orthopedic physical therapist, I accepted that I overdid it and needed to rest. I ran a bit over 60 miles the month of February, going out for short runs to keep moving as I healed. I was told that as long as I felt better after running, this was okay to continue.

March looked much better. Taking it easy worked. I’m so used to never-ending chronic conditions, with little hope. I told a friend in February that I didn’t even know how to address acute injuries anymore after thinking I broke my toe by dropping a glass candle on it (I went to urgent care and it was just badly bruised). The snowiest days overlapped with the worst of the psoas and toe pain, and for a bit I felt like I would have this pain FOREVER. Thank goodness for time. Honestly, I was shocked that rest WORKED.

I felt well enough to time trial the Shamrock 5k on March 13. I had some strong workouts in the bank from January, and 10 months after surgery, I was itching to test myself. I see it as a big moment of personal growth to go out to “race,” knowing it wasn’t going to be a personal record. My run coach, Nick, and I met to warmup, then he paced me. My goal was to go out strong, then keep descending. I managed to do just that on a breezy day on the Carroll Park 800, splitting 7:22, 7:15, 6:57, and 7:11 for the last 0.1. The first 2 miles felt quite controlled, and I fought in the last mile. Having an extremely fast pacer does help, but I had to stay focused on the surprising windy loop without the adrenaline of a race situation.

The in-person Shamrock 5k is notoriously fast. In my age group, the top 3 are all usually under 20 minutes—a virtual prize was not on my mind. Monday after the time trial, I received an email from a colleague that also runs, congratulating me. In a virtual year, I finished third in my age group. I immediately stared minimizing it, saying things like “well this will be the only year I do well at the Shamrock!” Then I stepped back. We are in multiple pandemics. I had major surgery 10 months ago. No matter what, this is an achievement to celebrate during an extremely difficult year. Anyway—as long as I can, I’m working toward faster and consistent running.

Now I’m in the final month of preparing for a half marathon. Again, I am excited and terrified to see what happens, even though I’m thinking of this as a confidence booster before a fall buildup. As I can consistently train because I’m not losing buckets of blood and overcome with full body pain, I keep seeing small improvements every day in pace and recovery. My mindset has changed, therapy is working!

The timing of my last read was perfect too—Meb Keflezighi’s 26 Marathons. He focuses on the training, the process, and running a smart race for the conditions you are in. The joy he feels in running shines throughout the book, and he reminds the reader every page that what matters in running is what you learn about yourself. As races restart and I chase down new goals, I keep thinking about his words: “I learned that giving your best even when you’re not at your best can provide insight into what’s possible when you’re on top of your game.”

Books I’m thinking about/recently read:

  • 26 Marathons by Meb Keflezighi
  • The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Stay sweaty and glittery. Black Lives Matter.

You Made Her Like That

I remember reading some passages in a book that did a hilarious bit about philosophers, but now I can’t remember the source. The source was supposed to be an analogy for things people thought they knew, but didn’t, and were instead clinging to a useless ideal. It might have been Taylor Swift related—she’s my age yet the queen of reinventing and new perspectives in her career. No. Now that I’ve been revising, it was in Jenny Offill’s Weather.

How about we start here. A few weeks ago, a friend posted about National Eating Disorder Awareness Month in a way that helped me articulate some feelings that have been brewing in my mind. She asked people to think about how they perceive eating disorders. Frustrations I have about chronic illness clicked. I am not looking for you to say that I’m a warrior, or that this journey has made me strong. Having a chronic illness isn’t a special superpower. There are other, less devastating, ways to build resilience. How about something that has an end date? Instead, I want you to listen and think about your world view.

I’m looking at you to reflect on how you understand chronic disability, chronic illness. Think about how it shows up in the workplace, your social life, your response to the pandemic. Read 17 Facts About Endometriosis That Show Just How Horrific This Disease Is and think about what a good day with a chronic condition is like.

I want simple things. I almost wrote girly things, but that’s a way to soften and gender the language. I’m not really interested in softening when women have had to do that for centuries. So I want these things: healthcare coverage. Job security. A step back from the toxicity of the grind culture. Will anyone log off their work email? Sympathy is useless without systemic change.

Many advocates are doing an incredible job educating about endometriosis this month. I am thankful for them. They are the people that taught me where to look for care. Advocates teach people how to speak in a doctor’s office, and to trust that you can fire a doctor if the doctor isn’t listening. Speaking of moxie, the only part of Moxie I loved was how Vivian’s nomination for “most likely to follow the rules” spurred a zine-lead revolution.

Solidarity in the endometriosis community felt forced early in my journey. Most of what I saw was about fertility, rather than quality of life. Years of pain led me to disassociate from my uterus. I don’t associate fertility with womanhood. I just—have a meat sack and I can do things with it when I’m relatively well, like running and circus arts. Long hair and cat eyes are fun too. If you spend some time thinking about your gender performance, you may notice biology and gender are not truly connected.

More people are getting behind the queer community, behind the fact that equitable access doesn’t exist until everyone is involved. More people are yelling that ever about a disease that takes on average 8 years for diagnosis. More people are yelling that bipoc patients face greater barriers from systemic racism in medicine. I am so grateful for Cori Smith, Lara Parker, @endoqueer, @crampedstyleblog, @beelynnnyc, @endo_black, @southasianwarriors, and more.

Books I’m thinking about/recently read:

  • Weather by Jenny Offill
  • Stunt by Saida Agostini
  • Fake Like Me by Barbara Bourland

Stay sweaty and glittery. Black Lives Matter.

Dandelion Vibes

I had a dream in which the walls of my house were literally on fire. In the dream, a neighbor, someone I knew but didn’t recognize, said flamethrowers were the hot new trend in creating the just right type of distress. Dumpster fire memes are rampant (and I have shared many), yet somehow, 2020 the worst year I’ve had. Yes, that’s a privilege: I still have a job, my house, so far everyone I know that has had COVID19 has survived.

I’m reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin for an event with Discover Charm City Gal Pal Book Club. One of principles is about revisiting joy. This week, I cleared out my phone photos and had a selection developed. I explored the outdoors, managed to run 900+ miles even though I took off three months to heal from surgery, protested, found quiet in the everyday. I even developed the screenshots from Zoom gatherings. How else will we remember what happened digitally? A tangible keepsake speaks.

I’ve done work reorganizing my space this year too: painting a door, setting up an office and handstand space. This also involved getting rid of things, but not everything. A few things have lingered. A dandelion has been growing in the crack outside my basement window. It started growing after deep freeze, after snow. I can’t bring myself to pull it. I think of “Dandelion Insomnia” by Ada Limón.

It’s vicious,
made for a time that requires tenacity, a way
of remaking the toughest self while everyone
else is asleep.

Another reason for the dandelion tattoo I have been contemplating. I drank up Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury when I read it a decade ago, and the poem from Limón’s book is getting almost more rotation in my mind than my other favorite of hers, Field Bling. I think about requiring tenacity. In 10th grade, I used “tenacious” as the one word to describe myself. Why shouldn’t it be the word of 2020? We’re also in it together in changing the systems we’ve seen fail in 2020.

Thinking about the weed flower brings me to my favorite quote from Dandelion Wine: “I mustn’t forget, I’m alive, I know I’m alive, I mustn’t forget it tonight or tomorrow or the day after that.” The alive-ness, the feeling that the world is still there—coupled with Limón’s ecstasy in spite of it all, dandelions are the real winners, aren’t they? I’m taking the vibe into 2021.

Books I’m thinking about/recently read:

  • The Carrying by Ada Limón
  • I Hold a Wolf by the Ears by Laura van den Berg
  • Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies by Tara Schuster
  • The Understudy’s Handbook by Steven Leyva

Stay sweaty and glittery. Black Lives Matter.

Always Adapting

One day you are healthy, then one day you are not.

I’m working on remembering to post in here as a real-time return to running blog.

Across media, we often see the end result. The triumph. We learn about the struggle later. This blog is for the person like me, trying to learn more about expectations after hysterectomy. The moments in recovery where you see progress, but where you also have dreams of where you want to be. Cue Taking Back Sunday. Months into the pandemic, quarantine is also part of the story.

Working through pandemic stress is something else on top of running. My media consumption changes with my stress levels. I started quarantine listening to podcasts like Ali on the Run on repeat (highly recommend for information and positivity and thoughtfulness). When I started running again in August, I wasn’t quite ready to hear other people’s stories while I ran. The music I listed to while competitively swimming hit my soul in the right way. The music reminded me of my fire. You may have seen me silently screaming along to Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, and Lady Gaga around Baltimore. I said I was an emo kid, I didn’t say I was cool.

Despite the stress, running continues to go well. I’m consistently running over 25 miles a week, progressing through conservative 10% increase, and performing two closely monitored lifts a week with my orthopedic physical therapist. I very much wanted to dive in hard—but notice I’m not practicing circus yet? The cool thing about having multiple organs removed and the remaining ovary repaired, on top of endometriosis excision, is that recovery is LONG, even when you think you feel better. My psychologist and I talked about how the work we’ve done over the past year has translated into accepting the process, to see a way through.

Speaking of long-term quality of life—I have mixed feelings about races in 2020. I am well aware of safety protocols at races (yay!), but I will be cheering for people through social media. As a country, a community, we are being told to make our own risk assessment. But we aren’t all looking at this from the same lens. When you have a chronic illness, you think about your fragility. To quote Emily Toder over and over, I get to think about my own dying. At a poetry reading when I was 26, someone told me I was too obsessed with mortality for my age. Endometriosis isn’t my first encounter with medical trauma. I had a blood clot at 19, from undiagnosed thoracic outlet syndrome. I have been obsessed with existentialism and mortality since—a body is an uncontrollable miracle. I am concerned that a bout with COVID-19 could lead to new chronic symptoms. I don’t need more illness, and I do want to do everything I can to limit spreading to others.

We just don’t know the long-term effects of COVID-19, though we know some people are experiencing long-term issues. My life, and other people I know in the chronic illness community, has been dominated by the fact that one day you are healthy, then one day you are not. So instead of racing, I’m running solo, cheering through Strava and Instagram. And texting my run coach updates about when I want to incorporate solo time trials, pending clearance from my pelvic floor physical therapist. And texting my run coach that I’m so happy to feel good while rebuilding my base, because I am enjoying running for the sake of getting outside.

As cases rise in the United States while the holiday season begins, I do hope this perspective helps you think about your own movements. As most Baltimoreans say to each other when saying goodbye, stay safe. Some of us have taken to saying, stay safe and wash your hands.

Books I’m thinking about/recently read:

  • Hidden Valley Road by Bob Kolker
  • Vagina Problems: Endometriosis, Painful Sex, and Other Taboo Topics by Lara Parker
  • The Office of Historical Corrections: A Novella and Stories by Danielle Evans

Stay sweaty and glittery. Black Lives Matter.

Pumpkin Spice Emotions

Here we are, over six months into the pandemic. According to Clue, it’s been 141 days since my last period. In the Baltimore Flow meeting this morning, I said that Mary Elizabeth Garrett is out here, doing her best.

I am thinking about the tension of stress, grief, and joy. My heart has been worn. Today, the focus will be on ways I have found small joys, as I scream along to the acoustic version of “My Heart is the Worst Kind of Weapon.”

Running again, while listening to music that externalizes my emotions, has been such a joy, even though I gravitate towards decidedly not joyful 2000s scene music. Are you ever really a retired emo kid? I grew up loving Fall Out Boy. Yes, I saw them live during Warped Tour before they blew up. I forget about the gender while diving into their melodic rage.

I’m still moving slowly in adding back weight-lifting and circus arts. Being able to at least add the endorphins of running has been such a mood shift. Even on bad runs, I still get a runner’s high. A little over three weeks into the process of rebuilding, some runs have been rough. The humidity had come back in full force earlier this week, I was struggling to maintain a 10:30 mile pace. I had to give myself constant pep talks: you are running! You are running! Not every day is a good run!

Yesterday, with no humidity and weather in the 70s, I cruised easily at a 8:54 average pace for five miles. The pacing change in gentler weather is huge. My body has a hard time adapting to heat running, so in Baltimore summers, I just survive.

It’s pumpkin spice season—I bought three dairy free pumpkin spice creamers yesterday, so yes, I have strong feelings about this time of year—perhaps the weather will start to cooperate?

Because racing is ages away and I’m not comfortable running in groups, I have been working with my run coach to come up with some fun solo goals. On Halloween, I’m going to dress up and fly in a mile time trial. I am just so happy to have found a way to enjoy Halloween within a pandemic.

For the first time in years, I have been able to start drafting some poems. To Tracy / To Like / Like was released by akinoga press right after my first excision surgery. I finished the chapbook before I was diagnosed, and now it stands as an artifact of suffering I was trying to find language for. I had so little relief after that surgery. To see myself finding some snatches of time to write has been monumental. A lot of things are tough right now, but I would be remiss to not mention a small creative victory, to be able to document again and feel more than exhaustion.

Books I’m thinking about:

  • Black is the Body: Stories from My Grandmother’s Time, My Mother’s Time, and Mineby Emily Bernard
  • The Carrying: Poems, by Ada Limón

Stay sweaty and glittery. Black Lives Matter.