Grief Distorts The Perception Of Time

It is three years tomorrow since my Dad died. THREE YEARS. That’s such a lot of time; and yet it often still feels like just yesterday. Donnie was gone to the same conference he’s at right now when Dad told me he didn’t want to even fight the cancer ravaging his body, he just wanted to die. I remember wishing Donnie had been there to talk to about it, and hating dealing with it in his absence. I remember the following weeks while Dad sat in hospice; when we asked if he needed anything and he’d joke, “To speed this up already. I hate just waiting to die.”

It often feels like yesterday.

But on the other hand, it seems like So. Long. Ago.

So much has happened since he died. E started high school and became active in the theatre program which has transformed our lives. Donnie and I both entered into huge athletic/fitness arenas. Donnie went from training for his first Spring Triathlon to now training for his first Half Ironman. I went from starting boot camp and doing 5Ks to committing to both a marathon and a 50K trail run this year. We bought a new house. My brother got married. So much has happened that he’s missed out on that it seems he died decades ago.

But then someone will mention a spot in the Smokies that brings up memories of a trip we took with Dad as teens. Or someone will make a stupid math joke that I know would make him laugh. And it feels like he should still be here – just a phone call away.

So long ago…but only just yesterday.

Grief really screws with your perception of time. Sometimes the memories are so distant, because the you in those memories is so different from the one today. But sometimes they’re clear as the memory of this morning’s breakfast; because deep down inside you’re still Daddy’s Girl. And no matter how much you’ve changed, the hole he left when he died is still so very much just there. Ready to throb in the pain of his absence without even a moment’s notice. You may go weeks or months or eventually years without shedding a tear. But then your youngest child – the one who doesn’t even remember your Dad – brings you your Ewok that your Dad gave you for your 10th birthday. And the tears…they just flow because no matter how much time passes…you’ll always be a Daddy’s Girl.

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One of the few pics I have of Dad and Wes


I promise Dad was happy this day, no matter how miserable he looks in this picture!

One of my all-time favorite pictures

Help Me Hide My Ugly Toes

Summer is Here and I Have Ugly Feet

There was a time, many moons ago, where someone told me, “You have really pretty feet…and I usually think all feet are ugly.”

I took that as a major compliment! I never even got regular pedicures or anything…those beautiful feet were all natural, baby.

Then I learned a hard lesson last year when I started running regularly – I’m prone to the dreaded BLACK TOENAIL. Now, I had actually lost toenails before on hikes so I knew this was something I was susceptible to. But it turns out that when you run at least 100 miles a month, it’s even more common. I did ditched a pair of shoes that weren’t quite big enough (those of us prone to the black toenails really have to heed the advice of getting running shoes half a size bigger than you feel like you need them) and as long as I keep my toenails trimmed before all of my super-long runs, I’m usually okay.

But – it still happens sometimes if I forget. I currently have one big toenail that FINALLY fell off and is only grown back about halfway right now. (SEXY!) One of my smaller toenails is black and I’m waiting for it to fall off any day. And then during my 10-mile race 2 weeks ago – I forgot to trim the toenails and I think I have THREE black nails from that. It’s hard to tell yet, but I think I’ll lose three of them.

In other words, I’m down to FIVE normal toenails.

In other words, my feet are HIDEOUS.

So…um…what do I wear during the summer?

I wore my red TOMS the majority of last summer but they only go with so much of my wardrobe and they’re not the best shoe to wear all the time since there’s not a whole lot of support to them. I just feel like I need a variety or my feet start hurting. Now, I rotated between 2 pairs of boots all winter, so I don’t need that much of a variety – but I would like something else to wear during the summer. Are TOMS my best option? Do you have cute summer shoes that would cover my toes? My requirements are: A) No heel and B) Casual.

I may just break down and buy another pair of TOMS, but I’m just curious if there are other Summery Shoe options for those of us wanting to hide our toes. If you have any ideas, share them with me and my ugly feet please. THANKS!

On Mud And Trails (A McKay Hollow Madness Race Report)

That title should actually be: On Mud And Mud And Mud And Mud And More Mud.

On Friday, Donnie asked me if I was nervous about my race. “No,” I assured him, “I’m just really excited.” And I was. Trail running is just fun to me, so it’s hard to get nervous about it. Especially since I had done the entire course the weekend before, just in two pieces. Those runs were separated by a 10-mile road race, which added an “exhaustion” factor I hoped would simulate putting the two pieces together on race day. In other words? I WAS READY.

It was weird in the beginning. The first mile or so was on a road or a wide trail so you could tell people were trying to figure out their places in the pack and I didn’t really know where to be. When we got to the first single-file part of the course (for the record, most of the course is single-file) it was an extreme downhill run through some muddy slants. That was the trickiest part to me because I’ve learned to embrace the downhill and the mud, so I found myself needing to pass people who were – in reality – faster than me. Either they weren’t used to the downhill or were fearing the mud, but they were slowing down when my body was propelling faster. I passed a good chunk of people there that eventually passed me again further along the course.

Once it thinned out things felt less chaotic. But, about mile 3-8 or so I was having some weird issues. My heart was racing and I was unable to ever catch my breath. I am in excellent cardio shape so that was really weird for me. I starting convincing myself I was having a heart attack or a stroke because it was just so…WEIRD. Then, my right foot started falling asleep and I was like Oh, shit. This is it. I’m stroking out. I told my battle buddy – my running friend who stuck with me and pulled me through all of those rough miles – and she was like, “Maybe your shoe is too tight.”

DUH. Much more logical than a stroke.

I pulled off the trails, loosened the shoe, and gained feeling back in my foot again.

DUH AGAIN. Good thing she’s smarter than me, or I might have called for a medical evacuation for a tight shoelace.

By the time we got about a mile or so from aid station 2 (mile 9.8) I started feeling WORLDS better. And I normally love the last 5 miles of the course, so since I no longer felt like I was dying (SCORE!), I was ready to go.

(SIDENOTE: I decided the heart racing may have been a residual effect of taking so much Sudafed this week for my allergies. Especially considering that stuff makes my heart race anyway. Add that to caffeine-filled power gummies along the course and 3 hours sleep 2 nights before, and I think it was a recipe for irregular breathing.)

After aid station 2 you go down into the Hollow again. I raced down it and had SO MUCH FUN. I was just enjoying myself mile 10-12 or so. It was great.

I know it's gross, but you had to see the mud CAKED on me. And this was even with some periodic trips in a stream to "wash off".

THEN WE HIT THE MUD.

Now, there are chunks of this course that are ALWAYS muddy. You always end up covered in mud after a training run. There’s one part they call “slush mile” because that’s what it is…as slushy mile. But – this last part of the course evidently gets bad after a rain, and after 100+ people before you have traipsed through it all. It was about 2 miles of SOLID MUD. And I can’t even explain what it was like other than saying that I felt like I was walking with 15lb weights on my ankles. The mud WANTED to keep my feet and I had to fight for EVERY STEP. We really struggled.

15 miles does not give me the best finish-line form...

By the time we got to the last mile or so, which is mostly all uphill, the final stretch called DEATH TRAIL, we were DEAD. Our legs and knees and everything from the waist down was SCREAMING IN AGONY. But we did it, and I was even able to run a bit at the top of the trail and heard my family screaming for me at the finish line. It was GREAT. I teared up because I was so proud but trail runners are NOT the crying type so I sucked it in and pushed towards the finish. 4:27 was my official which is great for a first-timer who thought she was having a heart attack for about 5 miles.

It was an amazing experience and I can not wait to do another one. Seriously. I am hurting this morning like I’ve never hurt before. My quads and calves feel like I did a 24-hour boot camp session on Saturday. I did run an easy 7 miles yesterday to try to ease the recovery along, but today? OH MY GOD. I’m having trouble WALKING. If you see me out and about? A sympathetic pat on the back would be nice. The pain of today is nothing like I’ve ever felt before.

But still? I WANT MORE.

You only get a shirt if you come in under 5 hours. I EARNED THIS SHIRT, BABY.

Many trail runners say that it’s addicting. If you’ve made it to run an actual trail race, then you’re probably hooked for life. And I can totally see that. It’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s messy, and it makes you overlook the fact that you might be having a stroke.

Which is probably NOT a good thing, I’ll admit.

Either way – I am now more proud of that shirt up there than of anything I’ve ever earned in my life. I may wear it every day this week just so the whole world can see what I did.

Of course, my hobbling around is probably a sufficient indicator.

Capitol Hangover

I went to the midnight premiere last night in my favorite getup of all time. LOOK AT THE EYELASHES! But I slept as late as possible and am now trying to switch to 25K Trail Run mode. Wish me luck on that. Also? The movie was great. (NO SPOILERS! I PROMISE!) I like to see these adaptations twice because I spend the first viewing thinking about the differences from the book. But – I will say this – they added perspectives into the movie that we don’t get in the book and I GREATLY APPROVE.

Okay. Off to pretend like I’m a functioning human who can TOTALLY run 15 miles through the woods tomorrow. I’ll just pretend like I’ve got some mutts after me.

My Lovesong For Jenny, The Bloggess

NOTE: My pre-written entries are all publishing later in the day this week because somehow my WordPress clock no longer matches the real world clock. I have yet to notice when they actually publish so I can adjust the publish time accordingly so…you know…sorry for those of you who care about getting an entry in the morning. Some day I’ll stop being lazy and fix that.

A long time ago I wrote very passive aggressively about not being included in Mommmy Bloggers list somewhere.

(OH MY GOD. I just read that entry and saw that I wrote that passive aggressive note and thought GAH. Really? Because, GAH! REALLY? Why would someone whine about that stuff? I hate myself retroactively. Also? I might have made a BJ reference in that entry. Obviously those were the days before I had real-world friends who might be offended by such references. I’m adequately ashamed on many fronts.)

But ANYWAY…I remember writing about it because The Bloggess had made all these hysterical badges for people who were on the list to use. And I wrote about how I wanted to be on the list just so that I could get one of those badges. Then Jenny emailed me the most wonderful thing in the world (which she made to match how my website USED to look because she’s funny AND thoughtful):

ARE YOU FREAKIN’ KIDDING ME? Of course I’m better.

If I hadn’t loved her already, I would have loved her then. But she had already won my heart before the creation of that wonderful badge. I hate to tell this story because I worry it sounds like one of those, “I know her for realz which makes me also awesome” stories, but I also want to make sure Jenny gets all the praise she deserves, so here it goes.

Once someone was mean to me on the internet and Jenny sent me a Twitter DM making me feel better.

Did she have to do that? Hell no. But she did and she complimented my hair and she made me feel SO MUCH BETTER because I was feeling really shitty.

But that’s what inherently good people do. They spread joy. She is one of those bloggers I talk about in the real world and I can tell you at least a dozen real-world friends who read her daily and love her ALL BECAUSE OF ME. I TAKE ALL OF THE CREDIT FOR 12 OF HER BOOK SALES IN HUNTSVILLE, AL. But she’s one of those people who I feel is just…GOOD. She deserves as much praise and recognition as she gets.

I am just so happy that Jenny is now an author making people smile in her wonderful way. I can not wait to get my hands on her damn book and I can’t wait to read it and kiss it and make sweet love to it.

Wait. Back that up. I’ll draw the line at the kissing. I WILL AT LEAST KISS THAT BOOK.

Here’s an excerpt from her excerpt.

That’s how much practice I had at handing random men photos of their junk and asking them to identify their penis. I never once had to do it with a vagina. Probably because women are better at not getting their e-mails caught in the firewall, because they don’t use the subject line “Look at my penis.” Also, vaginas seem to have less personality than penises, so “Is this your vagina?” would probably be difficult to answer. If someone asked me to pick out my own vagina’s mug shot out of a lineup of vaginas, I’d be helpless. And probably concerned about what exactly my vagina had been doing that constituted a need for its own mug shot.

COME ON. That’s BRILLIANT.

Buy it. Read it. Kiss it.