I’m gonna be worse

I saw this meme shortly before the new year, and to put it lightly, flipped out.

What do I mean by being worse?

Melting into me. Relaxing into the lack of chill. Folding into the absurdity of it all. Running up and down Gun Road for fun. Being chalant, wondering about the etymology, then confirming that chalant is indeed slang because the main rule of English is that there are no rules.

I have a bit of a life philosophy, mostly existential, as the former teenager reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being in between lifeguarding shifts. It could just as well be otherwise.

Be worse.

Keep going.

We get to do this.

Themes I can see as I look back on my poetry while editing a full length manuscript and submitting a prize portfolio.

Getting worse. At some point in my late 20s, I stopped having much shame. I’m sending the text, sending the email. I have 18 pages of a Word Doc tracking mostly rejected writing and have an Aquarius moon, I don’t notice the hurt. After doctor appointment on doctor appointment, having to claw my way to an endometriosis diagnosis, what did I have to loose?

It took deeper reflecting after a conversation with my coach about goals for early 2023 to understand more of what I want out of running. I was having trouble pinpointing a “goal” race. Rather, I had a bunch of shit on my calendar that to me, looked like fun trail time with unusual distances. I may shoot for time goals at some point, but mostly I want to go outside and be. I feel the friend I lost in the moon, in crows gliding, in the soft peach of sunrise and sunset.

I am not alone in these haunted moments. A group of us (we all went to an MFA program together) wrote a joint eulogy and wrote through our memories of her.

I am conflicted about writing much about grief on the blog, but like processing chronic illness grief through this venue, I continue to process the loss, even as I’m back to doing things like opening my mail. It seeps into the everyday.

I feel other people carrying their grief as they enter meetings, enter supposedly joyful spaces. So much to think about. To quote what Mandy wrote in i want people to think: I want people to think of the body’s resilient failure, rising from bedspreads of fire and ash screaming “I eat men like air” and then I did.


Books I’m thinking about / recently read:

  • Grief is Pink  by Jessica Niles DeHoff
  • My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones

Stay sweaty and glittery. Black Lives Matter.

This is just to say grief is hard

Many people I care about are struggling right now, and I am too. Time moves differently with grief. I check the clock often to understand when I am. Yes, when.

Grief has brought feelings of not being enough. I’ve learned over the years (and therapy, please, therapy is the best) this not enough is a vague malaise—there isn’t a specific thing I think I need to do more. I’m getting down on myself without anything concrete, mostly grasping for something to hold. There have been some very wonderful things happening this month, so the grief sneaks in as I simultaneously feel joy.

I’ll keep on running into the new year. In the trees, in the sun, in the rain—I am moving and free and nearly outside of my skin. Specifically, there are 2023 races I’m thinking about. I’m not even sure what my goals are for each race, other than learn something about myself and go long. I’m working to get enough protein and stretch while I work through the grief this way. I don’t need to be injured and sad.

This is just to say, I often write about not wanting to be vulnerable. Sick is not fragile. When I reflect on the past year, I’m not actively sick anymore. I can plan trips and give hard efforts on run and not be flattened for days or weeks. This is still new, and I’m very grateful (again) for therapy and working through this.

Grief is somehow collective and personal. The grief from the loss of a wonderful person will keep coming in waves, but there is still all this future to reach for. They would appreciate all of us keeping up the fuck around & find out attitude.

Books I’m thinking about / recently read:

  • Please make me pretty, I don’t want to die by Tawanda Mulalu
  • Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong

Stay sweaty and glittery. Black Lives Matter.

Joy in the Process

@friendwithendo posted a meme in the beginning of April that brought vague thoughts to the forefront of my mind. I’m embarrassed when I start sounding like I’m saying like back in the day, when I was a collegiate athlete. But my teen years were dedicated to the goal, then I was a Division I student athlete until 22. Shaking the mentality, or more specifically, the mentality that it’s not hard work if you’re not in pain, has been something I’ve grappled with while implementing the lifestyle changes that come with endometriosis.

Credit: Andrea Bell, Chicago, IL

How beautiful is that? Allow discovery and joy in your movement. In the momement. Despite pushing through daily pain with a smile, and doing things like causing a tibia stress fracture, I try to prove to myself that I’m not *weak* and have a high pain tolerance. Wuht?

I think of the line in Michael Downs’s The Greatest Show, “If people understood the full weight of the show they watched, they would be crushed.” Each day is a show I feel like I barely remember the lines to. I do not judge anyone else this harshly, I do not hold anyone else to this impossible, illogical standard. I don’t approach creating this way either. I consider myself a writer, exploring multiple genres, moving between fluid boundaries. Art isn’t limited to the page either. I look to multidiscliplinary artists like Lynne Price, Stephanie Barber, Jordannah Elizabeth, Amanda McCormick, and so many other incredible talents that transcend genre. Why am I not living like this when I’m moving? Is this impossible in running?

I tried something different when I ran the Charm City Run’s Sole of the City 10k earlier this month. A rigid personal best wasn’t on my mind. Since February, I had been on hormonal birth control and physically and mentally spiraling (I have stopped taking it and would like to say, if birth control helps you live the life you want, GOOD! Do you and you should not be limited in your access! It is not something I can tolerate. Yes, I am hard eye-rolling to all past and future individuals that say I should just get on birth control to make endometriosis go away. Read more here about how it is only a band-aid and not a long-term solution).

Even while struggling each day, I wanted to learn from the race. The course has a challenging hill during the final mile that broke me the previous year like the Baltimore Half Marathon broke my spirit in 2011. I’m looking at you, never-ending mile around Lake Montebello. I decided I wanted to negative split the Sole of the City, starting at an 8-minute mile pace that would be an effort but relaxed.

Dare I say the race was joyful? Despite the early spring humidity, the kind special to Baltimore where even your eyeballs are sweating, I was in relatively good spirits. It was probably the last time I wasn’t holding back tears or sobbing all weekend (I’m still looking at you, hormonal birth control). Reading Partners volunteers cheered at 26 points—one for each letter, yay, literacy!—an officer was singing for everyone at mile 2.5, which carried me to Charm City Run Fells Point blasting Kesha’s Timber around mile 3.5. Then I targeted someone a few paces in front that I had seen earlier in the race to bring me to the finish. 

Screenshot from my Garmin 235

My ability to hold pace was a pleasant surprise. As reference, when I’m not doubled-over from endometriosis and related symptoms, my tempo run pace is comfortably at a 7:20 per mile pace. Keeping a relaxed mind helped me hold the sustained moderate effort. I sort of approached the Charles Street 12 this way in September 2018, but if I’m being honest, I thought it was going to be a rare approach. I had excision surgery in April 2018 and I was cured, right? RIGHT?! Cue the reality of chronic illness.

I’m learning from the Baltimore Flow and incredible healthcare providers—shouts to Sustainability Wellness and Indigo Physiotherapy—to listen to my body. To look at it as more than something broken. To approach athletics how I approach creativity—with an eye for discovery. I have to be creative as I continue to chase a sub-20 minute 5k goal. I have to trust that when I feel well, the work will fall into place. While I’m not, there is a process and joy can exist in discovery.

Stay sweaty and glittery.