Kerri Runs a Marathon- Part Two

Every year, I register for the lottery to run the New York City Marathon. Even though 50,000 runners run through the boroughs on the first Sunday in November, only 2% of lottery applicants are accepted. So the odds are not in your favor that signing up for the lottery affords you acceptance. Each year, I look at my chances like fate; if I am meant to run another formal marathon, I will be selected. And each year, I check my credit card throughout the day, relieved and disappointed that the coveted charge from NYRR never appears. (NYRR tells people to do this as the confirmation emails are sent at the end of the day.)

This year, announcement day fell on a day I was home with Covid. This time, Covid hit me hard- fever, chills, low oxygen, the works. I had forgotten it was lottery day until someone posted about it. I checked my credit card statement. Nothing. I checked a few hours later. Nothing. I had begun to think I had again missed selection when I checked my card one more time. There was the pending charge, just two transactions above my $35 purchase at Crumbl Cookies. 

Over the past few years, I have not been anything close to what I would consider a “real runner.” Will I ever really feel like one? Covid and injuries took their toll on my running mojo. However, I’ve had the running bug. My foot has healed completely; I need to find my motivation and run. I’ve had the itch to work towards another marathon and considered signing up for a virtual one. It’s not that I was against an in-person event. I was nervous about completing it alone, taking too long, and being swept. 

Every year, when I sign up for the NYC Marathon lottery, I explain that fate tells me when to run a marathon. This is my year! My only goal for this year is to finish – preferably before the busses running the sweep come to offer me a ride to the finish line.

I am also aware that I am alone while training for this marathon. When I signed up for Philly, I signed up with a friend and promised we would tackle a lot of training together. No promises exist this time. I know that the mental portion of this round of training will be challenging, especially as I create a training schedule around Michael’s AAU baseball schedule. 

The solo round will be different, But as I over plan for the weekend, book my hotel, and debate the important decision about getting to Staten Island via the very early bus or the ferry, I am nervously excited to embark on another round of marathon training!

Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life

Recently, I read Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. In the book, she writes her biography using the format of an Encyclopedia. It’s a fun format that made me think about things in my own life that I never considered noteworthy. I asked my creative writing students to produce their own versions and decided to write my own.

Cassette Liners

When I was younger, no moment held more possibility than unwrapping a new cassette tape. Would there be cool pictures of the artist? How would the artist(s) thank in their liner notes? (This would lead to me thinking about who I would thank in my future albums.) Would they write some funny anecdotes about the process of creating the album? Most importantly, would they include the lyrics? Before the internet, there were only two ways to solidify your favorite songs’ lyrics: memorizing them by ear or the artist kindly including them in the liner notes. Lyrics in the liner notes were the best surprise, even if it meant it was nearly impossible to refold the liner to fit neatly back into the case.

When cassettes did not include liner notes, I had to learn the lyrics by sitting in my room for hours, listening to the words. When rushing to learn the words, I would sit with a notebook and pencil, writing the lyrics. This is how I memorized the lyrics to REM’s It’s the End of the World as We Know It. It took me several days to get the lyrics down.

Additionally, because we could not Google any references, we didn’t know, ensuring the authenticity of deciphered lyrics posed another challenge. 

    Lenny Bruce is not afraid? Who even is Lenny Bruce?


This weekend, I went to a live show. I noticed that the drummer did not have a clear plastic shield in front of the drum kit. One of my clearest childhood memories is watching a musical performance on tv and asking my mom why the drummer had a plastic shield in front of the kit. “Drummers spit a lot,” she said without hesitation. “It protects the other musicians.”

It wasn’t until I was 43 and attending a Mumford and Sons show that I suddenly realized that my mother had made it up. At every show I’ve attended since, I look for the shield over the drumkit and think of my mom.  I cannot bring myself to look up the real reason, although I’m sure it has something to do with acoustics. I’ve also noticed the shield is more prevalent at larger venues.  However, Foo Fighters never use one.  I have no idea, but I want to let the mystery remain. 

See also:



A few months ago, I bought a new brand of flossers. They weren’t on sale, but they were mint flavored and sturdy, which led me to true real middle-class splurging and I bought them even though they were not on sale. Mike commented on them, telling me he liked how strong and minty they are. I was about to make a smart-assed remark about this, that eighteen years together left with nothing to talk about except dental products. But then I saw the positives of this:

  1. Our lives were conflict-free enough that we were afforded the luxury of having the energy and time to notice something as simple as a new and improved dental flosser
  2. After eighteen years, my husband still finds it important to voice his appreciation of something as small as making sure he has good dental flossers.

If you are curious, the best flossers can be purchased here.

Group Projects

Growing up, I hated group projects, mostly because I always had a clear vision of what I wanted to do. The thought of having to share or compromise that vision was devastating. Also, I was (am) socially awkward, and the thought of forming or joining a group was, and still is, anxiety-inducing.  In most instances, I’d take care of everything myself, even if it required much more work. As an adult, I still prefer to do things myself. I plan my lessons and prepare my school materials by myself. At home, I take care of vacation planning and home projects, thankful for a spouse who just stays out of my way.


This past weekend, HBO offered its channels for free. Growing up, I always considered premium channels the pinnacle sign of “making it.” In my younger eyes, premium channels were for rich, successful people. Now, I refuse to pay for them because I won’t watch them enough or I will watch them too much. Either way, it is nice when the universe sends me a sign that it’s time to sit for two hours and watch A Life Less Ordinary, something I would never make happen.

See Also: TV


Years ago, I signed up for a subscription to Reader’s Digest. When the scanner scanned my information, it read “Kerri” as “Kern.” This makes it easy to know who Reader’s Digest sold my information. Saturday, I received an advertisement from T-Mobile addressed to “Kern.”

Midget Mom

This spring, Michael grew taller than me. He takes great pride in this, often leaning over, kissing my forehead, and telling me, “I love you, Midget Mom.” He thinks he is teasing me. Honestly, it is one of my favorite things that he does.

Random Encounters

Random encounters give me anxiety. I am terrible with faces, so when I see someone from my forty-six years of living in the same state or from my eighteen years of teaching, I usually cannot place the person. I’m always overly enthusiastic and super vague. 


It’s so good to see you! 

How are you? 

How are things?

I keep asking open-ended questions in hopes of the other person saying something that sparks a hint of recognition. 

Sometimes it works. Sometimes, the mystery remains. 

Once, I had a lovely conversation about summer with the mother of the boy who constantly bullied my son. As we talked about her son going to sailing camp, I scanned my brain for any information I could use to place how I knew this woman I encountered in front of the chicken nuggets freezer at Target.  



Did I grow up with her?

Several minutes after we parted ways, I remembered: that’s the woman who spawned the child who goes out of his way to make my kid’s life miserable. That’s the woman whose child has hit my child multiple times. And I stood there exclaiming how happy I was that her kid was enjoying sailing camp. 

Maybe she will chalk it up as me being super classy and polite. If my brain had worked properly at that moment, I would have asked her how she felt about raising a child who demonstrates sociopathic tendencies. 

Routine, Planning, and Organization

Routine makes me unbelievably happy and calm. In my classroom, I am always planning at least one quarter ahead.  I am getting antsy that quarter three is not ready to go, even though it is eight weeks away. 

My summer vacation is planned.

I have a Google Doc for Christmas.

My Google Calendar is a masterpiece.

My socks are organized into four different categories (athletic, dress, no-show, and winter)

My shoes are organized into five different categories (functional athletic, fashion athletic, flats, boots, and sandals)

Amazon Subscribe and Save, and Walmart Plus are the two greatest programs that ensure I never run out of anything, including dog poop bags, granola bars, or protein powder.


Despite an overwhelming need for order and routine, I am not very superstitious. I try to find patterns in events as I love data, but I am not overly superstitious. My husband, an engineer, lives for superstitions, especially in sports. He buys a new Red Sox hat every year, swearing that the new hat brings new opportunities. He buys himself a new Eagles shirt each year. This year, he wore his new Eagles shirt, purchased just outside of Philadelphia, on every game day. He swore it brought the Birds luck. He buys Michael some sort of Eagles shirt each year for Christmas. However, after the Eagles dropped the next two games while wearing his new hoodie, Mike confirmed that it was bad luck and told him to save it until after the end of football season. Mike also decided that his team never plays as well when I am in the room, so I get to avoid watching the games, a setup that does not bother me in the least.

This year, his beloved Birds made it to the Super Bowl. I stayed out of the living room for the games, got a book to read, took the dog for a walk, and went to bed early. Mike wore his lucky shirt. Michael wore his.

The following morning, all bets are off, and Michael is wearing his new hoodie to school, ready for the onset of remarks from Chiefs fans.

Pitchers and catchers report to spring training tomorrow.

Summer by Numbers

The view from our bedroom made a trip to our friends’ wedding a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Miles Driven: 4500

States visited: 11

We visited North Carolina to attend the wedding of dear friends. I love when two good people find each other! It was a small event held on a beach with close family. The beach house was absolutely beautiful, and I am thankful for what was a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Baseball games attended: 15

Baseball stadiums visited: 8

We aimed to visit as many local stadiums as possible, especially for collegiate games. Collegiate baseball has been our favorite recent discovery. We saw our beloved Vermont Lake Monsters at four different stadiums this summer. We even ventured up to Nashua for the championship game! Michael cried and was too upset to say goodbye when they lost, but he quickly regained his composure by telling an usher, “we’re family,” and making his way to the area where the players board their busses.

Michael is at such an easy age. It was cool to randomly say, “Want to go see the Monsters tonight?”, order tickets by the visitor’s dugout, and adventure to a new stadium. By the season’s end, many players recognized him and would stop for hellos and first bumps. Yet again, the Monsters remain his favorite team. He looks up to them with more admiration than he ever has for professional players with high contracts. 

First Pitches Thrown: 1

This was the summer of baseball! If I can be honest, I didn’t love most of Michael’s earlier interests, such as Bey Blades or Minecraft. I learned the basics and listened to his chatter about launchers and wooden swords, but it was never a passion I shared. This is why I was beyond excited when he took up baseball! We had a baseball-themed wedding! Baseball is such a huge part of our lives; I’m thankful Michael wants to keep up with that tradition.

Michael attended three weeks of camp with the Newport Gulls, a local collegiate team. He loved the experience of learning from actual players. (I spent the time preparing for school, which was a huge help!) He asked the players if they had ever imagined coaching summer camps as part of their on-the-road experience. He loved absorbing as much information as possible from them—everything from when to invest in expensive equipment to how to steal bases. 

When planning the trip to North Carolina, I found a local collegiate team, the Wilmington Sharks, and knew we had to visit. After reaching out to the general manager, I secured Michael the opportunity to throw out the first pitch before the game. Because I was nervous that he would get scared and refuse to do it, I didn’t tell him. We told him to take his glove and practiced pitching with him a few times during the week so he would be warmed up. We arrived at the stadium, found our seats, and I suggested that we go walk around to “see the stadium.” We walked to guest services, where I introduced him. 

“This is Michael. He’s here to throw the first pitch.”

Michael’s face was one of pure horror and surprise. I reminded him of a few things:

We were 800 miles from home

No one else cared if he messed up

“What if I do a terrible job and it goes viral?

“Dude, no one knows you. No one will be filming you except me.”

He threw a strike, felt the crowd’s cheers, and is so glad he did it, even if he promises to be mad at me forever.

I wish we lived closer to the Sharks’ stadium! They know how to have fun at a baseball game! The crowd was supportive, the staff was enthusiastic, and every possible way to celebrate being a Shark was found and embraced. From Jaws’s “da dum, da dum” to dancing to Baby Shark between innings, they embraced all things shark!

1 Concerts Attended: 3

Having a kid who has pretty okay taste in music is pretty cool! He likes EDM more than anyone I’ve ever met, but it is nice to share some common interests. We’ve attended concerts monthly since March, but three were part of our summer adventures. I admit that the best one I saw was Imagine Dragons at Fenway. They’re not my favorite, and I’d never suggest seeing them, but I went to support Mike and Michael. The show was at Fenway, which always provides an extraordinary experience. We obtained tickets for the State Street Pavillion, which offers an air-conditioned area with complimentary water and popcorn in addition to incredible views. I am forever spoiled for all future concerts! Macklemore opened and surprised us with an appearance by Mary Lambert and Tones and I.

I love the beach, not for an entire day, but to go for maybe two hours. I love the cooler breezes, the sound of the waves, and watching sandpipers play in the surf.

Trips to the Beach: Too Many for Michael

Michael loves the beach when we get there, but there’s a lot of whining during the prep. Once we get there, we can’t get him out. We often order pizza to eat on the sand or make our charcuterie boxes to bring with us. I love reading my books, playing in the surf, or chatting with Mike. I love that Michael is still young enough to love playing in the waves. After seeing someone skimboard, we immediately bought him one so he could try it himself. Watching him on the shore trying to figure out the physics behind sliding across the surf made me so proud. 

Summer Work Completed: Not Nearly as Much as We Planned

One of the most significant factors in our decision to pull Michael from him from private school was the lack of rigor. As a teacher with years of experience with seventh-graders, I know what skills sixth graders should acquire, and Michael’s teachers were not preparing him for high school. I brought home many of my teaching materials, intending to have a standing coffee date one morning a week at our favorite local coffee shop and work on reading and writing skills. We did this for a few weeks until the temptation to spend our days outside swimming, hiking, and exploring took over.

Michael did complete the two required book reports, but we didn’t do much more than that. Honestly, it is what it is. We can assess his needs when he gets settled into his new school. Mike and I realize that we only have five more summers with him before he leaves for college. If we can fill those summers with baseball games, road trips, and adventures, I’m happy to create such memories. 

Apparently, Year Fourteen is the Year of the Fajita

Recently, Mike and I celebrated our fourteenth wedding anniversary. We often joke that we are romantic by doing the most unromantic things. For example, he unloads the dishwasher for me, and I often clean Banjo’s poop off the lawn in the backyard. While these seem like very unromantic gestures, the “romance” lies in that we find ways to show our love by making our partner’s life easier. We don’t just show our love by huge efforts a few times year; instead, we find smaller ways to show our affection throughout the year.
The night before our anniversary, Mike and I sat on our backyard swing.
“We’re not buying cards tomorrow, right?” he asked me as Banjo tried to convince us to throw a tennis ball for him.
“I’m not buying shit,” I assured him.
Because Mike’s company just switched to working four ten-hour days to allow employees to take three-day weekends, we decided to go to a local eatery for a quick dinner instead of our usual drive to the Ocean Mist, a restaurant almost an hour away from our house.
On the morning of our anniversary, our favorite local brewery announced the release of a new beer, appropriately titled “Make This Romance Last.” I had to pick this up!
At the brewery, I told the clerk why I was so excited for this beer. When he offered to enter our phone number for their rewards program, he offered to enter the purchase in a few hours.
“It’ll send your husband a text letting him know he earned points.”
I offered to skip the points, explaining that the “What the f**k, I thought we weren’t doing anything” dance was best enjoyed in person rather than over the phone.

Fourteen years of marriage requires the fanciest of celebrations (and complementary chips and salsa)!
We were babies when we went to a Paw Sox game for Mike’s 27th birthday!

That afternoon, Michael had his first Chili’s experience. We don’t often eat out, and when we do, we rarely go to chains, choosing instead to support local businesses. Somehow, Chilli’s chicken fingers had come up in conversation. On our way home from his baseball camp, we passed a Chilis. Being starving, Michael worked his magic. “You know, Mom, you did say that Chili’s has the best chicken fingers.” Being ravenous myself, I turned into the parking lot.
Chili’s is like a time capsule. While the mosaic-tiled tables I remembered were replaced by chairs with a chili cut out of the back, Chili’s hadn’t changed. Our hostess seated us in the bar area behind a very dusty display area. She asked us about the rewards program. Since I don’t think I had visited a Chili’s since Mike and I were dating, she had to walk me through signing up so we could receive free chips and salsa.
The menu had barely changed. Michael ordered a combo that included ribs and the infamous chicken fingers. Though he admitted that the ribs were not as good as the ones Mike made, the chicken fingers lived up to the hype. “You don’t even need ketchup.”
That night, we drove to the lovely little eatery near our house. Michael talked insistently about Chili’s. “The chicken fingers were so good… And, if you’re a member, the chips and salsa are free… Have you ever had the fajitas, Dad? We should go to Chilis. When was the last time you went to Chili’s, Dad?”
Finally, thoughts of chips, salsa, and fajitas won. We drove to the other side of the city to go to Chili’s… on our anniversary.
Our waiter, Nate, humored Michael as he requested chips and salsa, explaining, “We’re members here,” with pride usually reserved for professional all-star athletes and Mensa members. Nate graciously humored him with the “members only” chips as Michael proceeded to order the same meal he had for lunch. “Happy anniversary,” Mike and I said to each other too many times while we hovered warms chips and enjoyed draft beers.
On our way out, I insisted we snap a picture. We tried several times as we kept moving to allow cars to drive through. “It’s our anniversary!” I exclaimed to a passing minivan, whose driver waved and gave us a thumbs up.
I have to admit that Chili’s was as good as it was in the 90s. Michael loved the attention that came when Nate brought Mike his sizzling fajitas. On the way home, I showed him the video of Cody Rigsby’s pep talk involving Chili’s fajitas. “I’m going to watch this every single morning,” he promised.
While the local restaurant offers food similar to Chili’s, our priority is to support the local businesses benefiting our neighbors, sponsoring local baseball teams, and driving the local economy.
And here’s my takeaway about a wedding anniversary spent eating warm chips and salsa at Chili’s: I cannot think of a better way to celebrate fourteen years of marriage with Mike. We don’t prove our love through big gestures. Rather, we show our love via quick texts throughout the day, emptying the dishwasher because our partner hates to do it, and all of the little gestures that indicate we love each other enough to work as a team and want to make life kinder and more enjoyable for our partner and our child.

Broken Bones and Silver Linings

Jeff Kinney signing his cast

I have always been someone who tries to find the positive in situations. But it was hard to find the silver lining when Michael broke his foot and learned he would be off his foot for eight weeks.

Batting practice in his scooter
Opening Day at Fenway in his boot

“Why would this happen to me? Why am I being punished so long for one stupid decision?”
Not having an answer was brutal. Michael has questioned his faith, particularly regarding the church’s positions on homosexuality and divorce. Eight plus weeks of punishment for a split-second decision is a lot to process, especially when that split-second occurs two days before baseball tryouts.
Michael has done all the work to recover, mostly without being reminded. He’s done his stretching exercises, practiced pitching and hitting, worn his calf protector, and learned to use the TENS machine. He’s tracked his progress and pain on a graphic organizer I created and shared for him, making more meticulous notes than his orthopedic doctor requested. After she suggested barefoot running to awaken the tendons and muscles that have lay quiet while he was in a cast, he runs up and down our long driveway a few times a day. He wants to improve and is doing the work to get where he needs to be.
After tracking his progress for two weeks, he convinced his doctor to let him return to baseball early, with the promise to continue to follow his pain. His coaches put him on first base, where he could (mostly) stay in one place and not have players sliding into him. He preferred outfield but knew he could not chase line drives with his injury and, just happy to be playing, took the base. Little did we know then, but he would find his home. He excels at first base!
So as we try to find the positive in this challenging experience, this injury has led Michael to his calling. While we wish he had never broken his foot, his broken foot took him to a place where he shines. He’s learned critical lessons about perseverance and strength. He’s learned the importance of managing frustration. He’s also learned that people will try their best to support people when they see that he needs help. As a result of his hard work, he reached his goal of making an aau team.

Lake Monsters are Champs


Last summer, we spent a week in Vermont. While looking for activities to occupy the time, I discovered the Vermont Lake Monsters, a local collegiate team. I ordered tickets to attend one game during the week, selecting the Thursday game during “Hot Dog Hysteria” night, which offered 25 cent hot dogs.
Monday, while exploring downtown Burlington, we passed a young man wearing Lake Monsters’ gear. I nudged Michael, telling him that the young man was probably a player. He was too shy to interrupt the player and didn’t know what to say. Later, we figured out that we passed Patrick Harrington, one of the Monsters’ all-star pitchers. Michael still kicks himself for not at least saying hello.
Once we arrived and watched the weather forecast predicting rain Thursday night, we decided to head to Tuesday’s game to ensure we were able to see the team play. When we entered the stadium’s parking lot, Champ, the Lake Monster’s beloved mascot, drove by on the back of a golf cart, waving and rolling his eyes at us. We happened upon a double-header; they were finishing a previously rained-out game. Michael fell in love with everything about the team: the small, intimate stadium, the kind fellow spectators, and, especially, Champ. When we entered the stadium’s parking lot, Champ drove by on the back of a golf cart, waving and rolling his eyes at us. Michael was in love.
The rain slowed enough to allow us to attend Hot Dog Hysteria night as well. We sat in our seats directly next to the Monster’s dugout. Michael worked up the courage to talk to some of the players. He joined other fans in some good-natured razzing of the other teams. “What even is a Sea Unicorn?”
Most importantly, he watched the players coming together as a team and supporting each other. Michael has only been playing baseball for a year. Despite his size, strength, and determination, there are skills in which he still lacks. He’s working hard to fill his gaps in ability, taking training sessions and summer camps. In these sessions, he’s witnessed some of the ugly sides of competitiveness from other players.
Michael left Vermont with a full-blown love of the Lake Monsters. He no longer inquired about visiting Fenway; it was all about the Monsters. A few weeks later, we surprised Michael by taking him to Worchester to see the Lake Monsters play the Bravehearts. We arrived decked out in our Lake Monsters’ gear and sat next to the visitor’s dugout. We cheered so loudly that other spectators in the area asked which player we were related to. This time, Michael had worked up the courage to talk to the players. They shared their experiences with him. We spoke to the relatives sitting in our area about the experience. Collegiate players do not get paid to play; it’s a massive commitment to both the players and their families. The players spend long hours on busses to games hours away, stay with host families, and sometimes pursue opportunities to play on the other side of the country.

Michael’s surprise visit to see the Lake Monsters in Worchester

We became fascinated by these dedicated players, who put in so much effort for the opportunity to play the sport they loved. I was thinking about collegiate baseball as a mom- trying to imagine sending Michael to the other side of the country to live with a random family and travel around playing baseball. Michael is amazed at the idea of spending his entire summer playing baseball with new friends.

Michael representing his favorite team at baseball camp!

Our Lake Monsters made it to the final championship game the same day I had my Achilles surgery. We paid to live-stream the game because traveling was out of the question. We felt like we were their good luck charm and couldn’t abandon them now!
Our love of collegiate baseball continued locally. Mike found an opportunity to send Michael to a camp held by our local Futures league, the Newport Gulls. Michael loved the sessions, which were amazingly personalized and well-organized. While he swears his loyalty remains with the Lake Monsters, he wears his Gulls hat almost constantly. Before the fall sessions ended, we took advantage of a deal to purchase three weeks of Gulls’ summer camp with three season passes to the Gulls’ season.
Being eleven, Michael wonders what it takes to be a serious ballplayer, examining other players’ bats, cleats, and gloves. He hears about teammates taking private lessons and getting custom-made gloves. As someone who has only been playing for a year, he often feels like an imposter. Watching the Monsters players show up with worn cleats and eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches taught Michael that baseball isn’t about having a custom glove or expensive sunglasses. It’s about growing and being part of a team.
Collegiate baseball taught Michael the importance of rooting for everyone and that the best players have much more than just a fancy bat. After watching Lake Monsters cheer each other on and complement each other, even when that person is not within earshot. Over the summer, he watched individual players become a team. The Lake Monsters gave Michael a game ball, ensuring that each player signed it before handing it over. They took the time to tell him about their own baseball experiences and what it was like as they grew older. Collegiate baseball players sparked more joy and excitement into Michael than any professional player ever did. I hope the players realize that, to Michael, they are the role models, the ones who took the time to talk about how to become a better hitter and all-around player. Mike and I have commented that this will be the summer of baseball; I cannot wait to see where Michael’s enthusiasm rises to by the end of August!

I Dunno. Looks Like She May Have Just Had A Baby

Four days before learning I was pregnant. 164

Besides the loneliness, no byproduct of Covid has been as common as the extra pounds gained during quarantine, the “Covid 19,” as my husband jokingly calls his. I have struggled to find a healthy balance with food and exercise throughout most of my adult life. I’m either counting every calorie and morsel of food or eating like I have just been voted off of the Survivor Island. Through the years, I have kept three benchmarks of weight: my wedding weight (which came from eating no more than 1400 calories daily and taking two fitness classes daily), my pre-pregnancy weight, and, currently, my marathon weight (which came from running twenty-five miles weekly).
In any picture of me in my adult life, I can tell you what I weighed when the picture was taken. I can tell you whether I was in a healthy, unhealthy, or between phase. Why is it that a person who is usually so sensible wastes brain storage on such useless knowledge?

Fenway April 2015 167

When news came that we would be returning to in-person learning, my first concern was my coworkers seeing me ten pounds heavier than I left them. When I made a move to a new school, one I had taught at years earlier, before I became pregnant, I was terrified of returning to the building twenty-five pounds heavier than I left it. My fears regarding returning to the real world after quarantine and injuries are based on people noticing my weight gain.
I am currently up thirteen pounds from my marathon weight.
I nursed a knee back to health.
Two spots on the bone of my right foot were reshaped.
My Achilles tendon was patched and reconnected.
I spent six weeks on the couch with my foot in a cast, allowing healing to take place.
I survived the physical healing and the mental stress that comes from pain, isolation, and feeling useless.
Yet I return to work worried about seeing coworkers who remembered me a thin(ner).

Presenting to teachers and Facebook executives 172

After six weeks of recovery, I returned to school to meet my students, eager to Get to know them and settle into routines after two school years of upheaval. Very few students asked me about my injury. I overheard two students inquiring about me.
“Why was she out of school?” one asked.
“I dunno. Looks like she might have just had a baby,” pondered the other.
Maybe they’ve just come to assume that every woman out of work for an extended period is on maternity leave. Perhaps they believed that my soft tummy was indicative of someone who had recently given birth instead of someone who had been nursing an injury. Regardless of the assumption, my heart stopped. Joke’s on them; I’m too old to have a baby, but they didn’t know that.

Last weekend- same amount as I weighed at eight months pregnant

Why do we do this to ourselves?
Why do we attach so much of our self-worth to the size of our pants?
Why do I include any current weights in my memories? How does that make memory better or worse?
How do I end the cycle and realize I am so much more than my weight or my pace?

Look at Me Go!

If Banjo could discuss our current relationship

It’s been eight weeks since I had surgery to fix two bone spurs and a torn Achilles tendon. It feels like it was years ago and a blink at the same time. It’s been eight weeks of books, bad TV, and sitting around. Getting injured during a pandemic means more time by myself than I’ve ever spent. It’s reassuring that I can do so but makes me fearful to return to work and real life. Because I’ve always been awkward in social situations and tend to avoid them, the pandemic and the injury were not terrible for me.

Two weeks ago, I was cleared to begin putting weight on my foot. After six weeks on crutches, this was a huge step! While I was afraid of overdoing it and causing more damage, my foot is kind enough to let me know exactly when it is done, almost like flipping a switch.
Eager to get back to normal, I’ve been doing my exercises every day. Since I’ve been fighting this injury for seven months, I’m familiar with which moves increase strength and flexibility. While being unable to run, I focused on yoga, earning my 200-hour yoga certification. Resuming physical therapy is strange and humbling.

My body can do some things as nothing happens but flat out refuses to do something I never considered difficult. For example, I couldn’t step on my tiptoes. After a few days, I could stand on tiptoes using both feet, but my right foot refused to lift independently.

This week, I attempted a twenty-minute yoga session via the Peloton app. Downward dog, considered a resting pose, made my legs burn. It felt good to stretch. Banjo was disappointed that I laid my mat in his prime morning sunbeam, disrupting peak napping.

Through this entire process, Mike has been patient and amazing. He took care of Michael, me, and the house. He took Michael to practice baseball a few times a week, walked Banjo, and took care of every household chore. As I’m starting to get stronger, our exchange has become a mantra, “Look at me go!” followed by “Look at you go!”

I can stumble to the kitchen to get my own Cheerios.
“Look at me go!”
“Look at you go!”
I can get upstairs to bed on my feet instead of crawling.
“Look at me go!”
“Look at you go!”
I can walk around the block.
“Look at me go!”
“Look at you go!”

I have big plans as I continue to recover. They begin small, such as walking Banjo. I’m going to complete the virtual Boston Marathon, even if I had to walk it solo as I did for the NYC Marathon. I contacted Rhode Races to get my comp code for volunteering at the Newport Marathon. I will be signing up for next year’s Narragansett Half-Marathon.

Be prepared for many more cries of, “Look at me go!”

Jingles and Signs

I admitted that these past few weeks have been challenging in terms of emotional well-being. Six weeks sitting on my butt is not helpful to someone who stays busy to keep mind and body from getting bored. 

If you’re not following Awesomely Luuvie on social media, you need to stop everything and do so right now. She frequently discusses mental health. Her quote about keeping busy as an avoidance technique resonates with me. She understands why I feel like I cannot just sit, which is what I’ve done for the past six weeks.

I have been trying to keep my mind as occupied as possible, reading books and watching so much television. This week, I had the meltdown that has been brewing. While I’ve been watching mindless movies, The Starling came through after a rom-com finished. I got sucked in, resulting in sobs. Between these sobs, I realized that I had not yet received the sign from my mom I usually get whenever I’m having a rough time. This made me feel even more alone. 

When Michael came home from school, he was doing something he never does. He was singing commercial jingles. All afternoon, he sang the jingles to Nestle Crunch and a few other products. When Mike asked him why he was doing it, Michael explained that he “just felt like it.” It hit me that my mom used to do this all the time. She’d often do so in public, which embarrassed me to no end. I called my sister, who agreed, “I can hear her saying ‘you wanted a sign. Here’s your sign, asshole.'”

I went to bed assuming that I had my small, passive-aggressive sign that my mom was not going to make me sit on the couch recovering for eight weeks by myself. The following morning, while scrolling Facebook, I noticed something in the background of a post by a local consignment shop. It was a ceramic Christmas tree like the one my mom had when I was growing up. I’ve looked for one for years, able to find one similar, but not exactly like the one of my youth. I immediately called the story, gushing about how much finding this means to me. The owner listened, explaining that she enjoyed this part of the job, and she would put the tree aside until my husband could pick it up that evening. When I called Mike to tell him, he offered to pick it up at lunch.

Eleven years after losing my mom, it does not get easier. I wonder what her relationship with Michael would be like. When I was pregnant, I called her every afternoon to update what he had been doing in my tummy during the day. When he was an infant, she would be perfectly content staying on the phone listening to Michael drink his bottles. Eleven years later, wondering remains between reminders that she will look out for me when I need her. 

Week Five Reflections

If I can be honest, I am fully aware of my need to only post positively on social media. I have never mentioned the death of a loved one, accidents, or illnesses. Call me old-fashioned, but I believe in delivering such news person to person. That being said, I am always thankful when others post about the passing of people close to them so I can attend arrangements and pay my respects. So this is a weird double standard I’ve created for myself. 

Anyway, I’ve been trying to be positive and keep things in perspective, but it is hard. I’ve spent five weeks sitting on my butt, watching documentaries, mind-numbing movies, rewatching my favorite TV series, and reading books. I’ve cleaned the photos from my phone and spent an embarrassing amount of time on my phone. I’ve attempted upper body exercises while watching reruns.

Here are my biggest takeaways:

We will be back!
  • I need to get dressed each day, which was challenging initially, but I feel better when I do so.
  • I need to make myself go outside, which is also challenging, but my mental health benefits from sitting outside rather than on the couch in the living room. I ordered an outdoor swing, which Mike put together last weekend, and make myself get out there, even when I think I’m content on the couch watching Friends reruns (again).
  • People who check in on me are excellent. I fall into a funk, but people reach out, which makes my day.
  • When I fall into my funks, I genuinely fear that I have forgotten how to be social. I also fear that people have completely forgotten about me. When much of your social interactions involve physical activity, getting injured just as we returned to normal after Covid fosters more loneliness. While I fear that I will never return to the level of activity from which I was once capable, my mind also creates a fear that I will never return to the social interactions that were crucial to achieving milestones pre-injury. (Does that make any sense? TLDR: I’m afraid that my running and NP friends have forgotten me or will not at all care when I can resume activities.)
  • As the weeks go by, I need to let go of things that used to seem important. Mike and Liam have been amazing. But since everything falls on them, not everything gets done. And that is okay, even if the entertainment stand is covered in dust.
  • Progress is progress. In the past five weeks, I’ve gone through two casts and a boot. Progress is happening, and it is mine to observe. Seemingly simple tasks, such as taking a shower or going upstairs, are now victories. I need to recognize and celebrate them.
  • Diet is so important to health. I’d been eating as healthily as I can but miscalculated how many calories sedentary me required by 200 a day, resulting in even more weight gain. I’m up twenty-five pounds from my marathon weight and look forward to being active again and getting rid of the extra weight, which will further aid recovery.

In the past five weeks, I’ve seen a lot of progress, even if it comes in the form of moving my foot side to side. There will be a lot more progress in the next few weeks and months!