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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Like Sands Through the Hourglass...

Anyone that has ever had a penchant for daytime soap operas (a dying genre, but that's neither here nor there) probably remembers the opening to the longtime serial drama "Days of our Lives", which has been on the air since 1965.  A soap opera is defined as "an ongoing, episodic work of dramatic fiction presented in serial format on radio or as television programming. The name soap opera stems from the original dramatic serials broadcast on radio that had soap manufacturers, such as Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive and Lever Brothers, as sponsors and producers.  The main characteristics that define soap operas are "an emphasis on family life, personal relationships, sexual dramas, emotional and moral conflicts; some coverage of topical issues; set in familiar domestic interiors with only occasional excursions into new locations." (Courtesy of Wikipedia).

Most of the time "real life" often pales in comparison.  People are born, go to school, get a job, get married and have children.  There are some variations here and there, but you get the idea.  Because of this, many people would tune in and live vicariously through the adventures, trials and tribulations of their favorite characters.  Kind of like an "escape from reality", so to speak. 

And then, there are those few occasions when you experience something completely out of the ordinary, something, dare I say it, "soap opera-esque" (I'm inventing new words again). 

Such an occasion has recently presented itself. 

But, before "the big reveal", a little background.

When I was a teenager, wearing eyeliner that was too heavy and skirts that were too short, my mom sat me down to have a talk (no not "the talk"...been there, done that).  She shared with me her struggles growing up that culminated in two pregnancies when she was a very young adult.  It was a difficult time in her life, where she felt alone, disconnected and unloved.  To make a long story short, she gave birth to both of those children and put them up for adoption.  At the time, it was the most responsible decision she could make as she was in no position to care for them herself.  This was the early 1960's.  She was a single woman who didn't have the means to support one child, let alone two.  When she told me that story, I remember starting to cry, because I could imagine how painful it was for her.  I am sure it wasn't easy for her to share that, but I believe she did, because she wanted more for me.  She knew I wanted attention and love, much like she did.  However, she also knew that the trashy clothes and the porn star makeup was NOT the right way to go about getting it.

Fast forward to March 25, 2012. 
My phone rings. 
It's my mother.  

We have small talk for a minute or so.  Then, she says that there are couple of things she thought she should talk to me about.  My knee jerk reaction was to say, "please tell me you're not getting married again!", to which she, thankfully, replied, "no" and even offered up a chuckle or two.  It was then that she told me one of the children she had, a boy, found her.  He did a little searching on google, found her email address and sent her a note.  They ended up speaking on the telephone and connecting on facebook. 

It took me by surprise, not because I didn't know about it, but because, in that moment, things changed.  For years, I had known that my mother had two children out of wedlock and, somewhere out there, I had half-siblings.  But now, one of them had a name.  And a face.  And a family. 

It was a lot to take in.  I'm sure it shook my mother up a bit too, but in a good way.  After all these years, she gets to revisit that part of her life and change her story.  She gets to take the benefit of her experience and maturity and reconnect with her biological child.  It's not that she has to "make up for lost time" or "right a wrong".  She just gets a second chance.  We all are deserving and worthy of those, aren't we?

I, for one, am happy for her and for him.  It's made me think an awful lot about my own relationship to my family.  I'm not one for regrets, because no matter how much guilt or regret you may feel, it does nothing to change the course of history.  But, it certainly has caused me to ponder my perspective, which tells me that, perhaps, my perspective needed a little changing.  I've always known who I was and where I came from and have taken that gift for granted.  My half-brother went many years without that information. 

Since hearing the news, I've decided to reach out to the newest, yet oldest, member of my family.  It's still very new and there will be a huge adjustment period for everyone involved (his family, my mother, my brother), but I'm optimistic.  I don't know what the future holds, but I'm okay with that.  I'm okay with taking it one day at a time.

Like sands through the hourglass, so are days of our lives.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My own March Madness

"Strange days indeed -- most peculiar, mama." -- John Lennon

It's March 13, 2012.

This time last year, I was in full steam ahead training mode for the 2011 Boston Marathon.  My long run was up to about 18 miles.

I was also a blogging fool, having composed four posts each in the months of January and February and three up to this date in March.

Back to the present day:  my longest run of 2012 is a mere 13.1 miles and I've only blogged three times.  This entry serves as my fourth.

What the French, Toast?

Well, for the first time in several years, I am not registered for a spring marathon which feels...very odd.  After going around and around this numerous times in my brain, I've decided it's best that I just focus on building a strong base.  Sure, I can jump into a 26.2 miler in April or May, but to what end?  I already know I can "do it".  It's not like I have anything to prove.  When I do commit to something, I like to be as prepared as possible, so I know I'll perform at a very high level.  That matters to me.  I won't half ass a marathon.

I can always do other stuff.

Perhaps, I'll run some shorter races with greater frequency, since I'm not married to a training schedule at the moment.  Plus, the spring countdown has been reduced to T minus 7 days, which means more daylight and warmer temperatures.  These conditions make running longer and more often much more palatable.

That explains the some of the madness.  What's up with the blogging?

Maybe this is just a simple case of cause and effect.  Since I'm not really "training", I don't have a lot of running stories to tell or, more importantly, I don't deem them newsworthy enough to share.  I have been running 4-6 days a week since the first of the year, but I haven't really had a clear purpose.  Some days, I got out there out of habit.  Other days, I went for the pure joy of the movement.  Even though this isn't strictly a "running blog", the subject does dominate.

Having said that, I've decided it's time to do SOMETHING.  I signed up for the Hartford 1/2 Marathon, which takes place on 10/13/12.  I'll be revisiting the site of my first and only DNF in a 26.2 mile race.  However, I have no fear.  Those demons were quieted long ago.  Some new and fun friends who live in CT will be running.  It will be a first for a couple of them and I'm excited to be a part of this experience.  You always get a renewed sense of enthusiasm when you share a race with a newbie.

In addition, I registered for the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon in upstate NY.  I blame Ted (I can never say no to him).  The race is on 10/7/12...which JUST so happens to be six days prior to the Hartford Half.  Yeah, yeah, I know.  Conventional wisdom would suggest that this is not the "smartest thing" in the world to do, but, sometimes, you've just gotta throw caution to the wind and say "f**k it". 

That's exactly what I'm going to do.

Sometimes, you have to go to extremes in order to find your balance. 
Sometimes, you have to have a little madness to recapture your sanity.

"Sanity calms, but madness is more interesting." -- John Russell