Friday, December 29, 2006

What do you think about fat people?

Ten minutes into our run today, I threw this question at my friend Sarah. I've never asked anyone this question before, and very rarely even use the two words 'fat' and 'people' in the same sentence. I always thought I was protecting the innocent, sparing this vulnerable category of people. I was prepared for Sarah to chide me for calling them fat, or comment on what a strange question that was. Sarah's very quick on the uptake, so after a beat, she answered like she had been waiting for someone to ask her this question for years. 'Fat people really bother me'. I laughed, because it was such an unexpected response. 'Why?' I encouraged more. 'Well first they're always complaining that they can't lose weight as they're eating a huge McDonalds meal'. I felt she was being harsh, and wanted to rescue my fat people. 'You know what's funny' I said, 'I think the majority of Americans are prejudiced against fat people, and I think it's mostly because we're scared of becoming them'. Sarah agreed completely, then we both shared stories of how we had gained lots of weight in highschool and college, and later lost it, so we could really appreciate how important maintaining our current healthy weights was. We also both agreed that it would be incredibly easy to get right back in that fat boat.
This whole topic came up because of another friend had just met this great new guy.. They were cyber-dating, she saw his photo and was attracted to him, and they had good email communications. Then he suddenly sent her a recent photo where he had obviously gained a lot of weight. That photo ended their relationship. She wasn't attracted to overweight men. And it got everyone thinking in our group: How do we feel about weight issues? Very strongly, apparently. My little sister Anna is the kindest person, would never say anything mean to anyone. She invented her own language when she was 6 years old. It's called da da da da da's. She has about 20 or 30 of them. At least five of them were created for Zhenya, our father, at various stages of emotional upset. She had one for uncle Steve getting out of the cab to visit us on Shabbos. She had one for me when I had my hair pulled back too tight in a bun. And she has one for fat people. That's just the way it is.
Every human deserves respect and sensitivity to her differences, but as humans, we can't help having a little fun. It's all fun and games until you've gained 10 pounds by eating your whole box of dried peaches.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

A few notes the night before the NY Marathon

Wow.. I can't believe how completely exhausted I have become these last 12 hours.. So much thought and rehearsal and preparation, mentally more than physically, just to get to today, the day before a really big event for so many people. In my exhausted state, it just dawned on me that many many people called me today to wish me well for tomorrow.. I guess they care? And all along I thought I was this anti-social, slightly annoying runner-type that avoids others and vice versa.. I'm truly touched.. Not that I didn't try to drum up some interest in unknown citizens, such as the teenage check out guy at Shop-Rite.. I felt he needed to know that I was running a marathon tomorrow, so as he scanned my fish, gatorade and broccoli rabe, I casually said, 'I'm running the NY Marathon tomorrow, I hope this is a good meal'.. He didn't miss a beat, turned around to the check-out kid behind him and enlightened him too.. 'We have a marathon runner here!' I was surprised, as the first kid looked totally uninterested in the population over 20 years old.. Let the prejudices cease!
OK, being as I have to get up at 3:30, I should cut this short.. But first a few predictions: Lance Armstrong will finish in 3:03:18; Susan Kepchemoi should win, she's been runner up 3 times already; Hendrik Ramaala will win too.. And me? Very bad idea to print my predictions before the fact; But I will be brave.. Hmmm.. This is really tough.. Any shorter distance it's scary how accurate my predictions are, but the marathon is such a different beast.. Tha'ts why I've been so anxious.. OK.. 3:24:12.. But my goal is 3:17:58.. And if I don't come near either of those, I'd like to take my own advise that I've given friends about to run a marathon: Don't beat yourself up, that's what the distance is for..

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Marcia Learned Some Valuable Lessons Today..

(As in Brady..)
Here goes kids:
1. If you're driving in your car and suddenly feel overwhelmed with feelings of helplessness and depression, try changing the radio station; I don't know what my Vassar college dj was playing, but the singer made Morrissey sound like Goldie Hawn on crack

2. You'll never grow up or be happy until you feel selflessly protective of someone else (this came to me in this weird dream where I overcame a fear of heights by being lifted in this ride 50 feet in the air with a toddler, and my total focus was on making sure the kid was safe)

3. If you hate your job but are having a tough time quiting, take on a second job that you really hate, then quit it, and you'll really appreciate having only one job that you hate! (Is this one obvious?)

4. Don't think that if you passed a certain person in a 10k race at mile 5-1/2, you're going to do it each time! Even if you can run the last 400 meters in 1:16..

5. Crispin apples are: a.delicious; b.another reason to be proud of living in New York

6. No matter how bad things get, never EVER watch Laguna Beach, and if you somehow are forced to against your will, make sure you don't watch a marathon of Laguna Beach episodes.. You will definitely suffer irreparable brain cell loss as well as an odd desire to wear strawberry lipgloss

7. It's OK to watch Flavor of Love, especially to offset the effects of the waspy above mentioned program, but please refrain from watching numerous repeats of the same episode.. I know New York's sassy confrontations are particularly irresistible, but who are you kidding.. You just couldn't pull it off.. Could you?

Monday, October 02, 2006

Queen Grete's Great Gallop

To be transported in total darkness on a Shortline bus from a sleepy commuter town into the pulsing heart of NYC at 6 am.. Is a great way to wake up on a Sunday morning. I was really excited and thankful to be able to compete in today's 1/2 marathon. I had a year plagued with stop and go training due to a recurring muscle injury, and to wake up race morning feeling healthy and ready to test my stuff was really a great feeling. I arrived in Central park with that same thought I always have before a Central Park race.. What the hell is a transverse and will I know if I'm on one?? The park is a city in itself, taking up 6 miles of city space, closed to most vehicular traffic on the weekends.. And just my favourite part of the city.. So the only person I remember talking to before the race was Ginette Bedard, a 73 year old runner who beats most people in races a quarter her age.. She was exiting a port-o-potty (a runner's favourite pre-race hang-out.. 1. because it's warmer and 2. because that way you don't have to wait on a long line for one!) so I did what any normal person would do, went right over to introduce myself to her and see what her gameplan was for today's race.. She said something about wanting the whole thing to be over already, and I really couldn't blame her.. It was starting to rain pretty hard, and the race hadn't even started.. I made my way to the starting area (with over 4,000 runners today, getting there early made a lot of sense).. And then the sky just opened up.. I stood under a tree watching the poor suckers standing on the starting line getting totally drenched.. Then I sprinted to join them before I missed the start myself.. I cramped in near the front.. There was a small group from team Los Compadres that were hovering under a piece of plastic for cover, and they invited me to join them.. So I did.. It was so cute, I was kind of hoping we could all run this race huddled as this little unit, and each share the responsibility of finishing the race with a good time.. Ah, that would never work.. Racing is such an independent sport, each runner has to constantly monitor his own stress level to make sure he's pushing just enough.. For me for that day and that point in my training, I planned ahead of time that pace would be a 7:15 minute per mile .. Off we went.. I felt good and ready for this race.. I was ticking off the first three miles all close to my goal pace.. Then I saw Wanda, another master's woman from my team.. She was ahead of me.. I figured she was starting too fast, because I always beat her in races.. I saw a couple of guys w black t-shirts on with big 'H's' on the back, NY Harriers.. I had talked to one at the start of the race, he says he hasn't raced since Brooklyn back in March.. You could have fooled me I thought.. Every down hill I passed them and every up hill he passed me.. We talked a little.. I was surprised how comfortable I felt, nothing like last year at this race.. More than 1/2 way into the race Wanda passd me again! I was really surprised, and considered chasing her, but I felt now I was really running right at the threshhold point of my stress level.. I checked my watch, and knew I could maintain this pace to keep my goal.. I got to the 12th mile and realized that I had to really pick up the pace if I wanted to break 1:35.. I ran very strong and did my fastest mile with a 6:58.. Still didn't break 1:35.. Ran 1:35:03.. Had the chip time been displayed at the end and not the gun time, I would've seen that a bigger effort was needed, and I would have broken 1:35.. No matter.. I was thrilled that I did end up averaging 7:15 per mile! There's nothing more satisfying than training hard for months and months, having patience through the injury healing process, and then achieving your goals.. I really like that race, it's so well organized, and it's in honour of Grete Waitz, who won the NYC marathon a record 9 times.. She was at the post-race ceremony, looking fit enough to win the race again, and telling us not to blame Norway for our terrible weather today.. Typical Libra, wanting to be in everyone's good graces.. Of course, if a city names a race and a festival after you, I guess you can assume they approve of you.. I felt content enough to not even think about any desire to have a race named after me..

Thursday, September 14, 2006

It's not me, it's you

I met my friend 'Jon' (not Jon from Colorado, though that would have been nice..) at a local cafe last Saturday. We had lots to catch up on. I was reading this book by a Mennonite woman which I was quite enjoying. I read Jon one of the lines to demonstrate that he would like this book too. This father character had just been left by his wife.. His uncle came to visit him and asked how he was doing: 'Oh, unexceptional. Living quietly with my disappointments'.
Jon and I were really taken with that line. We immediately thought of how useful a retort that would be at work. We both work in office buildings inhabited by many people that we have to greet daily, and we are both rather anti-social people. Well, that's not exactly right. We are actually very sociable, love meeting new people.. But the environment of forced sociability is rather suffocating to us.. Yeah, that's it exactly.. And in office buildings when co-workers pass you in the hall as you're silently enduring your own private hell, it's very jarring to be asked 'How are you?' and knowing there's only one correct answer.. But now Miriam Toews has given us an alternative! We can respond, 'Living quietly with my disappointments'.. Jon got that happy twinkle in his eye, like he was really eager to try out this new line.. Then it hit me full force, and I couldn't stop laughing: Jon could NEVER use this line, because he NEVER lives quietly with his disappointments! He wasn't quiet after a race he ran a few years ago when he angrily berated his performance in front of anyone who would listen.. Or who was stupid enough to claim pride in their own performance.. ''Oh, you did good in the race? That's great.. I SUCKED! Yeah, my father got all the good genes, he was fast, but I've been SCREWED!' I must admit, my embarrassment at people looking at us took precedence over feeling bad for him.. No, he wasn't quiet then.. But I'll always stand by Jon. I know where he's coming from. That's why I didn't yell at him too much when he took the entire pan of Debbie's leftover salmon home with him.
Male friends. Give me strength.

Monday, September 04, 2006


I've been keeping a morning journal, a writing exercise designed to unleash creative flow. You may have heard of it, it's called the Morning Pages, part of a program created by Julia Cameron from her popular 'The Artist's Way' manual. It does work, as she said. Artists with artist's block all become 'unstuck', and go on to become successful with their art. I've experienced several small successes with seeing through certain artistic projects.. Like designing a big race t-shirt, putting together a mini-comic strip, finally getting some acting roles.. But all of these came with considerably more effort and struggle than I thought necessary.. Are we all in our own ways? Should this all be much easier to come by and fun, really? But our minds are adding on completely erroneous pressures that weigh the whole project down and make it seem as torturous as our dull routines we were trying to avoid in the first place? Well, here's a close up look at the process.. Cameron warns not to share the MP writings with anyone, as it's not meant to be read or critiqued, simply written to empty out the rubbish that's dancing about in your head to allow for the real good stuff to come out.. Composting, as some call it.. But the hell with that, I'm going to share with you the MP from 9/3/06 at 9:00 am (yes, I time EVERYTHING!) I'm sharing this not because it's great writing, it's not.. But because I need help.. I am stuck and I can't get out..

Morning Pages 9/3/06:
Still raining, a slight drizzle. I have Noam Chomsky's name in my head- I went to Border's before seeing a movie last night and was looking for books on The Bushmen, found none, so took out a book on Linguistics, since I'm mostly interested in the Khosian 'clicking' languages. Can I turn that into a career? I can contact a university head of a Linguistics department and maybe turn it into an MA- or just independently travel to South Africa- Botswana and Namibia and teach English and learn their language. How can this be of value to the world? Does modern America, the Jessica Simpson generation really have a need (yes!) to learn a Khosian language? Our link to history may be extinct if not documented. I could bring it to modern life. And then go to Kenya and run with the elites? I'd have to learn Swahili too. So many languages, so much time. Is this all a big plan for me to avoid doing something realistic with my life? Yes, I suppose it is. I really have no interest, never did, in working and living a conventional life. I need to stop running away from my creative side and embrace it. I've been doing this MP exercise for a long time now, and while I've had creative projects here and there, really not enough to sustain me-I'm still so wrapped up in my job but not investing the time I should be in art or writing. Oh yeah, my blog is good. That's writing. But it's so sporadic. I think the lonliness and isolation of these projects is preventing me from pursuing them, If I had the balance of friends, other artists, say, it would be more- helpful? I guess I thought, with my daily epiphanies on the next big project, that something would just come to me and I'd be off doing it. I think I can't get off the ground. I'm stuck. In so many aspects of my life. No friends, or few; No loves (more serious); a job that's crushing my spirit; The one constant positive thing is my running. It's really tough, especially these mile repeats. They're $!@&%#!$ endless. But I feel really strong and powerful of mind and body after. How many people, even amoungst competitive runners, are going to make themselves do seven times a mile at around their 5k pace with one minute rest in between? Huh?? And though I do them alone, the results will prove themselves in public, in a race. So this dedication, tolerance of pain and patience for a good successful outcome with progressive results is THE SAME PROCESS that I need to apply to- whatever the next phase I pursue. My project ideas are all great, but I need something I can do for a few years, support myself doing it. Teaching overseas sounds good- but I want that creative lement. Living in the city sounds great. All the African, theatre, comic, running connections in the world are right there in the city. Time to do it. Should I buy a condo? I should, And I'll need a job? Unfortunately. Teaching? I don't know. Maybe, Back to square one? Yep. This is what happens but I feel I shook something loose, not sure what. I need a career advisor- a psychic, someone big. If I ask Zhenya he'll say, 'You got me, kid' Dakota will say pursue acting! That'd be very cool. Sigh. Square one and a half?

Monday, August 14, 2006

I'm Really Beginning to Hate Bob Farkas**

I have no right to be blogging right now, was sitting at my workstation from just before 8 am til 6:30 pm exactly.. Then I went straight to rehearsal to do a run through of the one play where I play a catatonic woman.. Wasn't much of a stretch from the employee I pretended to be today, as I used the back of my business cards as cue cards to help me memorize my lines.. This in between taking calls at the call center where I work.. Ever the focused Tamar, one of my first customers was Paul Ellis.. I do my schmucky greeting, he interrupts me in the middle of it (the only thing worse than saying a schmucky greeting is to have someone interrupt your cadence by cutting you off during it.. Really insulting, in the books of customer service reps, ranks right up there with being cursed at).. 'Tamar', he says, in his big, loud, Brooklyn-accented, business man can't-be-bothered-with-greetings way.. 'I opened my phone bill, and see you're offering $39.99 a month for long distance, and here I'm paying WAAAAAY too much!' As I finish jotting down my lines from page 15 of my script, I matter-of-factly remind Paul that, as I had told him before, unless he was willing to make a commitment, he would not be eligible for that promotion.. I set up phone service for this guy about 3 weeks ago, and since then, every thought that crosses his mind that is telephone related, he calls me and demands I return his call right away, as it's very important.. I'll never forget this guy.. He actually first called for a rep named Melissa, but then discoverd that Melissa went on to greener pastures (collecting payments in our front office.. A little greener, I guess..) So he latched onto my soul, and from then on I was his personal slave.. At the end of our first 45 mminute call (which should have only taken 7 minutes, but Paul needed special attention), he said.. 'So I guess you're my new contact?' 'Yeah', I said, kind of touched that Paul wanted to keep me as his contact.. He ended the call with, 'Don't go getting promoted like Melissa'.. The touching moment was never to return, as he called me so many times, I started saving his messages for future restraining order evidence..
So back to this call on this morning.. As I pull up Paul's account this morning, and realize I've been very flippant with him, reminding him of his commitment fears, and that he is a DSL subscriber, 'as I recall', I said so callously to him, therefore he would not be eligible to take advantage of this promo, for which he tried to bite my head off about not being informed of .. The lightbulb went on. Paul Ellis was not the same customer that I had burned in my memory as public enemy #1.. No, that honor was reserved for a Bob Farkas, who though had a similar accent and manner as Paul, was in fact not.. Paul was in fact.. The man that has been my director for the past month! Ha hahaha! Foiled again! As soon as I realized this faux pas, I acknowleded it.. 'Oh, Paul, the director Paul?' Yeah', he said, relieved that a nicer Tamar was somewhere underneath that stuffy demeaner.. 'You didn't know it was me?' I'm always so impressed when I do that.. And more impressed that no one has been insulted yet.. This even happended with my own boyfriend that I was living with! He called me at work to ask me a question, and I was so focused on my position as a service rep, that my brain never recognized that this was not only someone that I knew, but someone that I lived with! (I never understood why he didn't get mad or think it was even funny that I didn't reconize him? Clearly a doomed relationship..a good chess player, though..) OK, so that was my morning excitement.. It happend around 8:40 am, then nothing exciting happend that day at all.. A torturous 10 hours of taking phone calls.. OK, wait.. Some cute Southern accents thrown into the mix, but really, nothing memorable or sticky note-worthy.. Then on to rehearsal.. My eyes were really burning, had I known that NO ONE had their lines memorized, I wouldn't have stressed so hard about getting my lines down.. The female director of our group gathered us after the run through to quickly go over notes.. I guess I was really tired, and I started swinging my legs under the stage, you know, kind of trying to keep myself awake.. And this woman who is in the plays.. Touched my knees and told me to stop it! Can you believe it? I didn't want to be rude to the director by making a scene, but I felt some response was necessary.. What was this woman, my MOTHER?? I heard her bossing one of the actors during rehearsal, too.. When he messed up his line, he said 'Oh, SHIT!!', And she said, 'Stay in character', and he said 'What?' and she repeated it.. I can just imagine what he was thinking.. Actors HATE to be told what to do, but only tenfold* when it's coming from someone other than the director.. OK kids, I'm really beat.. Til next time..

*yes, I realize this isn't a word.. you word-Nazi!
** The subject title of an email I sent to Melissa after Bob's 3rd callback to me in the same day

Thursday, July 27, 2006

A Bronx Tale

I'm starting to get jaded- this getting up at 4:30 am to run a 1/2 marathon in the city doesn't feel as bold and exciting as it used to. Maybe I don't have the same spark for it as before because I'm not as fast as I was last year. I'm like a speed junkie (running speed, that is!) who's suffering from withdrawal symptoms, and willing to take on any race to get my fix. So off to the Bronx I went. I had my main goal, which was to beat my 1/2 marathon time from England last month, 1:38:58. That should have been an easy goal since it was a pretty hilly race. Then I had about 5 more goals in descending order of difficulty.. A runner's crutch, which I've learned from Bob Glover, my all-time running mentor and Coach of GNY, the team I proudly (but infrequently) compete for. The idea is to not put all your eggs in one basket. The last goal on your list would have to be something absolutely obtainable, even in the unlikely event that a car ran over your legs during the race and you had to roll yourself over the finish line.. Like finishing the race in 4 hours, say.. So my second goal was to not let the Coach beat me.. See, he has his own weird little accounting system, and if you've ever beaten him in a race, he puts an asterisk next to your name, and it doesn't come off til he beats you in a race.. He has a lot of rules.. Like no waving to Coach Bob during a race.. He yelled at us once after a Central Park race, went on for a full page in an email rant to all the club members about how waving to Coach Bob during a race is like giving the finger to the Pope.. It changed a lot of people's racing experiences. I loved the new somberness.. But getting back to my race.. All 3,000+ of us were mushed into the starting area, listening to the final instructions from Mary Wittenberg, the very young CEO of the New York Road Runner's club. She was trying to get everyone psyched for the NY marathon in November, and people were anxious to get started with THIS race, as the sun was already starting to bring out the sweat in us. Then just before the race starts, she announces that she's going to 'hop in', so she doesn't miss the start.. How dare she be so relaxed and casual about running in a race! I have all kinds of pre-race rituals that involve mostly working myself into a frenzy of anxiety.. So this seemed quite unfair.. The race started, and I quickly found a reasonable pace that I thought I could hold for the whole way. Reasonable to me means it's too hard to talk, but I won't pass out after 13 miles. On that day, that meant a 7:35 pace. So you can imagine my horror when I heard the idle chatter of two women coming up behind me! Good grief, man, this isn't a Sunday jog in the park.. We have people working really hard here! If this pace is so easy for you, you should be hustling your little butts a little quicker! It didn't help matters that the one that was doing most of the talking sounded exactly like that cheerleader in the Sprint Mobile commercials.. I picked up the pace a little, but could still hear diarrhea mouth.. Just then a spry woman ran right up beside me. It was the CEO! She said 'Good job' to me, and I labored to get out a 'You too' in .. At least she had the decency to be breathing very heavily.. Somehow Mary and I ran together for a whole mile.. It was exciting, but stressful, because I knew she was in my age group, and at our advanced age, even with a 'slow' 7:35 pace, there was a chance for me to be in the top 3 and get a medal.. All of a sudden chatty Cathy spies Mary.. 'Hi Mary! I hear people were complaining about the cost of that Manhattan 1/2?' Not as much as you'd hear ME complaining if I had the energy to, I thought.. Mary somehow kept a little two word reply conversation going with iron lungs.. I felt really bad for her.. That's when all my fantasies about being the CEO of this running club took flight. And then all my energy drained somewhere, and all three of my rivals whizzed ahead of me, and left me with 5 miles to contend with alone.. Me and 2,500 other tired, soaked runners.. A water stop was approaching, and I saw this young female volunteer handing cups of water to passing runners.. It must have been her first time, because clearly she wasn't aware of the potential dangers of this job.. Exhausted runners, stubbornly refusing to stop and take the cup like sensible people.. Ploughing on and grabbing the cup on the run while dodging other runners.. This naive girl was smiling and talking to some runners, and not looking where she was going.. She happened to have some very Dolly Partonesque assets too, which you really couldn't miss.. And all I could think of as I grabbed my water was, 'If we collide, she will definitely be the one in trouble'.. I missed her by about an inch, and was totally exhausted in the effort of avoiding those twins.. At some point I saw my Coach.. Coaching his team from the sidelines.. I was so disappointed! How could he drop out? He's made of steel, has run marathons two weeks after major surgery.. Was supposed to 'kick my asterisk'.. This race just wasn't one for the records for either of us.. The finish line finally arrives, I sprint in with my usual valiant effort to save face (only so much making up you can do in a tenth of a mile), and finished in a disappointing 1:39:26.. I knew it was a tough day though with the heat, since not only did my coach drop out, but so did his wife.. And she is also quite a warrior.. So I held a little hope that maybe I still got an award.. I wandered over to the results list.. Found my name.. Fourth in my age.. Sigh.. I had to see who took third.. Third female in my age went to: Mary Wittenberg. She earned it, good for her. Anyone but motor-mouth. I limped into the sunset. There'll always be another race around the 'hood..

Friday, July 21, 2006

In the Company of Strangers

She was driving down the busy road, no expectations of this date that was to be in twenty minutes. How long had it been since she last had a date? A long time, maybe a year or two. Now the cynic entered her mind. He will have nothing to say. She won't be attracted to him. What did any of it matter? He was returning to his country the next day, and who knew when or if she'd see him again? May as well just relax and have a nice evening. Besides, she was the older one here, so what was she nervous about? Nervous! The thought made her mad. Why should I be nervous? I don't have to prove anything, he's the one that asked me out! Okay, now she was starting to remember why it had been so long since she'd been on a date. It was torture, the uncomfortable feeling of spending an evening with a stranger. She reminded herself that she had met him the night before, and he was very sweet. A real gentleman, old-school chivalry, must've been the South American thing. And he had a really cute smile, reassuring, reminding her that everything was going to be okay. She was still nervous. She calmed herself thinking about how she would be like a big sister to him. Oh dear, that's not very romantic, she thought. Back to worrying. She pulled into the parking lot of Hamburger Harry's, it wasn't too full for a Friday night. Must be the rain. She left her name at the front to be called when a table opened up, and planted herself at the bar. She ordered a drink, but had no interest in drinking it. She looked up and saw an old friend who was a singer and was booked for that night to perform. She went up to her. The friend seemd angry about this establishment. She relayed a story about how she agreed to do this gig, but the last time she came here with her friends, the owner made them all pay for their drinks, so this time she refused to give them any business. She would play for them, but they all had their drinks before they arrived. Seemed strange to her, like you're going through with half of a vendetta, but it worked for the friend. Just then the restaurant hostess called her name on the loudspeaker. As she walked to greet her, her date had just walked in the front door.. Great timing. They greeted each other warmly and sat down. Somehow the topic of Americans and neurosis came up. The girl asked, 'Do you know about the great amount of mental illness that plagues this country? The majority of Americans have seen or are currently seeing a psychiatrist'.. The boy seemed very knowledgable in this, and replied, 'Yes, I know about all the cases where criminals get released by pleading insanity'.. She was impressed with his grasp of English as well as his following current affairs.. However, he missed her point. Ah, that may be more a gender difference than a cultural one. More material for the 'I hate dating' files. They discussed some stuff on training techniques, as they were both avid athletes. This was a good topic for them, neutral, no room for misinterpretion, and something tangible that they had in common. A little lull in the conversation, and the girl thought about how this boy was going to return to his relatives that evening. He didn't have a car, and she had a fear of driving up mountains in the dark, and that's exactly what she'd have to do to get him home. 'How are you going to get home?' she asked casually, though it's a tough question to sound casual about, expecially when you're only 30 minutes into the date. No matter, she thought it a good thing to know the answer to, especially since his uncle was still in the vicinity, and could therefore be of assistance here. 'That's what my uncle asked me', he said matter of factly. She laughed nervously. 'Are you worried about it?' He asked her. 'Well, no', she hedged, 'I just like to plan things'.. They both just sat there, him staring at her with a guilty look on his face, her looking down at her plate trying not to look worried. 'Are you worried? ' He asked her again, this time she conceded, 'Well, maybe a little'. 'Don't worry', he said confidently. 'But how will you get home?' she asked again. 'I'm not worried about it', he said defiantly. The girl thought to herself, 'Well then why should I?', but there were plenty of reasons for her to be alarmed by his lack of an end to this date. If he didn't have a ride home, and she wasn't going to drive him home, this date would never end! And she wasn't too fond of dating. It was then that she decided it might be a great idea to drink her entire martini, and that is what she did. She also decided that she truly was not going to worry about this strange turn of events in this date, and just have the best time that she could. They left the restaurant and drove to a spot where there would soon be a big fireworks display. She and her date walked around looking for a good spot for viewing. A corny band played songs from the '50's, and the fireworks begun. They were louder than she's ever remembered. She had to plug her ears with her fingers. A crazed-looking large man walked right over to her and started talking to her. 'Hey lady, wouldn't it be great if they didn't make so much noise? Then they wouldn't be firecrackers!' This guy seemed a few sandwiches short of a picnic, but the girl would never intentionally hurt anyone's feelings. She engaged in conversation with him. He talked about how he retired from playing music when he lost some of his hearing. He was standing too close to her, closer than the two foot comfort zone Americans require. He walked away and she was glad. She was enjoying standing with her date, watching fireworks, having a nice quiet moment where no worrying was happening. She had mentioned how she loved purple ones, and he kept pointing out all the purple ones to her as they went off. They didn't look purple to her, but she appreciated the gesture. Picnic man came back and again stood a few inches from her face. She didn't know what to do or say, but had the distinct feeling she wanted him gone. But she told herself this poor guy probably has no one in the world, and just needs a friend. So she asked him, 'Were you playing with the band?' to which he raised his voice, 'No, lady, didn't you hear me before?! I retired from music!' He looked really scary like he was going to hit her, and she felt embarassed that this stranger was yelling at her. It was so loud from the fireworks that no one else seemed to notice what was happening. She didn't like being yelled at, and yelled right back at him, 'No, I didn't hear you! Don't you remember that I had my fingers in my ears??' She started to walk away and her date followed her, and then in a sweet voice he said to the man, 'It was nice meeting you'.. What was so nice about it, she wondered? He then explained he had seen this man the night before, and knew he was crazy. The girl felt very strange, like she had over-reacted. But that guy was scary.. No, she acted appropriately, she decided. She and her date walked down some little side streets. He started asking her about why she'd never been married. This was always a topic of interest to foreigners. They think all women should be married by the age of 25. The girl was amused. Some young kids were loudly passing by, and the boy raised his hand to her face. 'Why did you do that?' she asked. 'To block your eyes, they were shining a lazer at you'.. 'Thanks', she said.
In the end the boy had called his aunt to pick him up. She had arrived and they exchanged some words, and then he walked her to her car. He gave her a little kiss on the cheek, and told her he'd like to see her again when he returned. She agreed that she would like that, and they went their separate ways. She drove home feeling pleased that everything worked out, and that she had overall had a nice evening. She marvelled at how difficult it was for her to just relax in the company of a stranger. A few hours went by, and as she played back the events of the evening, she decided this was a really nice guy. Maybe dating wasn't so horrible.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Love it or Hate it?

In the UK (and Australia) there is a very unique condiment that people form very strong opinions about. It's a dark brown, thick, vegetable spread called 'Marmite'.. It looks like molasses and tastes like syrupy bouillion cubes.. I kind of loved it for about a week.. It reminded me of a previous trip to England, and I found it very comforting spread (very thinly!) on a fresh slab of whole grain toast.. Then one day in haste for work, I made the fatal error of spreading it 1 mm too thick.. It was so offensive and salty and murky.. I had to take a little vacation from it.. Tonight, the evening before a 1/2 marathon race, I thought it might be a good idea to load up on that sodium, so I braved a tip of a teaspoon full.. And I actually felt more energetic (after gagging).. So I went to their website to see how much salt I was actually getting.. I clicked on the 'Marmite Hater' section to see how British advertising compares with American, and found this:

file:////Haters of Marmite, it's time to recoil! The spread you love to hate has just gotten worse... the monstrosity that is the new Marmite Squeeze Me.
Just when you started to forget its gruesome taste - it's back. This time it's in a plastic container, so no matter how hard you try to smash it against the wall - it keeps bouncing back. If only it would take the hint and go away..//

Friends, it's salty.. Good night, and good luck..

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Flies and Neckties

Now it's time to get serious and get a blog post in. I've run out of eating excuses.. I've stuffed my face with a handful of dried cherries to satisfy my emotional need for dessert. I'm torn between writing some serious commentary on the state of American politics (having just viewed the PBS documentary The Dark Side, shedding some light on the flimsy reasons we decided to attack Iraq), and the journey of a gnat inside my eye. Hmmm. I'm going to go with the insect, to clarify, the latter topic. (Though in March an entomologist did name a slime-mold beetle after George W).. My entire family has always taken a great liking to the world of bugs and insects and flying and crawling things in general. I myself do an excellent imitation of the common house fly cleaning himself.. Maybe it's my near-obsessive need for independence that makes me find parasites so riveting.. (Warning: skip the next section if you're one of those weak-stomached people).. There was a program on TV retelling amazing survival stories, and they told of this 16- yr- old girl whose plane had crashed in the Brazilian rain forest. She was the sole survivor, and awoke from an unconscious state to find herself still strapped into the aircraft seat which had landed in a tree. With the dense population of insects, she had discovered that any open wound she had received was now covered in bugs. Her journey to safety took several days and several swims through crocodile infested waters, but to me the most fascinating part of the adventure was (here's the gross part!) that she discovered many of the bugs had layed their eggs into her wounds, burrowed under her skin, and she systematically extricated them one by one by breaking the skin open.. I believe she removed over one hundred of these.. I don't mean to turn this girl's trauma into light-hearted entertainment, but I really do think it's human nature to enjoy watching this stuff.. We kind of want to know how to handle this situation, in case any one of us should ever find ourselves in the same predicament.. Well, I can tell you, until you've experienced a gnat thrashing about between your eyelid and your eyeball, no amount of coaching will ease this experience.. So let me be of assistance.. This has happened to me enough times that I've got a small collection of the dead carcasses taped to my running journal as evidence.. My story's not nearly as glamourous as the previous heroine, but I think you may still find it helpful in your travels. OK, first rule of bugs: They love bodies of water, and they always come out when it's above 60 degrees farenheit. They also are attracted to light sources, which may explain why they always go right for my eyes. The trail where I normally do my running passes some little swampy areas, so every Summer a new swarm of flying things has to be contended with. The first time a gnat flew in my eye, I did the completely wrong thing. I slammed my eye shut in an effort to trap it. And my eye just burned like crazy, and I thought if I opened it, it would burn more, so I didn't. Don't do that. The human body is an amazing little medical center all rolled into one skin.. The correct thing to do when a bug flies in your eye is to leave it open! That's right. This takes a lot of practice, because every fiber in your body is telling you to trap that little bastard! But no.. By leaving your eye open, the natural healing process immediately takes over and starts cocooning the little critter into a soft cushion wrapped in eye rubber, preventing him from being able to damage your orb.. So no burning occurs.. But this cocooning takes an incredibly long time to complete, so in the meantime, you will feel every little wing flap and escape technique this little bugger can drum up, all in the cozy environment of your eye socket. Quite unnerving to a girl trying to complete a four mile run knowing that the last two miles will be accompanied by an unwelcome hitchhiker. Still, given the choice of a fly in my eye or a larva incubating under my skin, I think I'd choose the former.

Addendum: (entomologist-types are very big on 'addendums'): Whilst driving to work today, I noticed R&B singer Rhianna's song 'There's a Thug in my Life' sounds amazingly like 'There's a Fly in my Eye'.. Check it out!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

I'm Naming Names...

Who are the people in your neighborhood? Well, I have no idea what their names are, and sadly, if one were to say hi in the grocery store, I'd be clueless as to how I knew him. But put me in a local race, and I'll see faces and legs I've run against many years.. And I don't want them saying hi to me either! During the race, that is.. So a few months ago I was very distressed about folks talking to me during a race.. They saw Tamar running slower than her usual pace, and figured she must be taking it easy, so it's fair game to start a little conversation.. But no, I wasn't taking it easy, I was just germinating a flu that would give me a temperature of 103 later that evening (the same cold which forced Deb to take me to the doctors office and also gave birth to this blog.. No Deb, didn't give birth to it.. That sentence needs revamping..) So.. Ah yes, that fateful day, three people talked to me; One asked if I was training for a marathon, which right off the bat, isn't a compliment.. The logic being, 'well, she's running SLOW, she couldn't possibly be taking this race seriously'; Coming from Tara, I knew she meant no harm, an honest question.. Still makes you aware that people are scrutinizing things, and you best not become too damn slow, or you will hear an even less complimentary comment such as, 'Wow, you must have been run over by a truck, the way your feet are dragging'.. Next comment comes from Steve (told you I was naming names!) Upon passing me, 'Hi Tamar.' No return greeting from me, as I was really working hard, regardless of how much slower it was than usual.. Steve felt he should check on my health, because surely if I didn't answer him, there could be a serious health risk.. He continued: 'Are you OK?' I felt exhausted from the run and the flu, and then degraded by someone that was passing me, and what I thought, playing some kind of a psychological game (don't think this is paranoia, it's actually quite common for competitve runners to test others in mid-competition.. Bill Rodgers, who has won the Boston Marathon four times*, was famous for pulling this trick.. Amazingly, I still think he's a really cool guy..) OK, so I had a talk with both of these parties, and cleared the air.. No harm was intended, I think they were shocked that I had confronted them (Did they not know how seriously I take this stuff?) but that was then, and this is now.. Over the past 2 months my hamstrings have been acting up and not allowing me to get quality runs in, such as speedwork, which of course, is essential to doing well in races.. It was pretty discouraging, but this seems to happen to me every time I try to make a breakthrough in the 5k.. That short little bugger gets me everytime.. So at least, I consoled myself, I can still do normal training runs so I won't become completely unfit.. Just not very fast.. So there was a 10k race today that I decided to run to just see where I'm at.. I figured if my hamstrings didn't give me too much trouble, I could maybe run a 46 minute race, which would have pleased me, because the course was hilly, too.. So I get there, see a lot of people I know.. I'm relaxed, because I have my handy hamstring excuse to fall back on if questioned.. Runners are so insecure.. So the race starts, I'm feeling good.. I keep telling myself to 'run within yourself', meaning don't push the pace harder than what I can maintain for 6 miles.. My breathing is smooth, we're in the first 1/2 mile, and I find it odd that the front runners are still within grasp.. They must be taking it easy to warm up, I think.. Then we hit the first mile in 6:49.. Whoa! I guess all that resting has paid off! So I'm excited.. There's one woman with braids in front of me.. Then another woman, Terri, passed both of us calmly.. Terri will win this race, I already know.. The woman in braids puts more of a distance between us, so I forget about her for now, and continue concentrating on the zen of this race.. We start up a dirt hill, and Steve from the last race catches up to me.. He says, as he passes me, 'You look strong Tamar, keep it up'.. I guess I trained him well.. Then a new guy enters the club of 'talkers to Tamar in a race'! Scott says, as he's catching me up that same hill, 'How are you doing?' I don't answer him, because, buddy I'm here to run a race, and sorry, but breathing is more important to me right now than giving you updates on my state of well being.. He doesn't get it.. He has to add a new inquiry: 'Is everything OK?' Now lets really analyze this one.. Why would you ask such a question during a race? This guy was clearly pulling a Boston Billy.. I waited til we crested the hill to answer.. 'Actually', I said, 'I'm feeling a little tired.. Can you help me out?' That got a good laugh from another guy, and Scott just said, 'This is a piece of cake for you!' as he zoomed ahead of me.. Whatever, I was feeling a real lactic acid burn in my legs between the hill and mustering up that sentence for Scott.. Then a real cool thing happened.. I started getting closer to braid woman, and this guy Rich V. said, 'Atta girl, you can get her!' I had a friend on the course! How rare.. Racing is like feeding with piranhas, NO ONE is your friend! You're as physically maxed out as you're ever going to be in this lifetime, and then knowing that if you slow down, there are five people that would be thrilled to pass you .. Is so mentally stressful.. So hearing this man genuinely cheer for me made me want to stop and kiss him! Of course, I couldn't do that, because then all the other people that I had worked so hard on conditioning to not talk to me would immediately demand they be kissed too, as all groups of people seem to demand equal attention.. That's how it is in my world, anyway.. I remember when I was 10, I had this friend named Tiffany that one day decided she wanted me to kiss her! I refused, but then my friend Tara (different Tara) made the same request on a different occasion! WTF, as Jon from Colorado would say.. But let me get back to the race.. Over 1/2 a mile til the finish, I passed braid woman, and the ugliest part of the race is upon me.. A long long stretch to the finish line.. The clock is so tiny and far away, but I know if I don't maintain the effort, I will either get passed by a woman or risk losing my great time.. So suffer I must.. I run all out to a 44:55 finish.. Second woman overall, I'm so happy.. I shake hands with all the people that helped me.. Braid lady, as she really motivated me to keep going.. And Rich V. especially.. Racing really is like (I imagine) being in the trenches..
I even punched Scott in the arm affectionately, after it was all over.. Maybe a little harder than acceptable..

* Thanks to my friend Quentin for correcting my info on Boston Billy; I had previously stated that Bill has the most wins at Boston, which is incorrect; That honour goes to Clarence DeMar with an amazing 7 wins there, the first one set in 1911 at the age of 22 the last one in 1930 at the ripe old age of 41, which still stands today, SEVENTY SIX YEARS later as the oldest man to win Boston!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Cinderella and the والخفاف زجاجيّة

Ten dollars to the first person to translate this post title! OK, this one's going to be a little more modern, as far as my posts have been going.. I've noticed my little pattern of telling stories that are slightly dated, chronologically speaking.. So here's a story from my life as an adult.. Just to prove that I have a little more on my mind than running ahead of my competition.. It's subtle, but you may see it..

My best buddy from college, Mike, got in touch with me via an email forwarded from someone in my running club.. Mike and I had completely lost touch.. Back in college we were both math majors, and the long hours spent studying left us in complete need of frivolity during our free time. We often entertained ourselves trying to find Mike a new girlfriend.. No one took us seriously, as our approach was more of the slapstick variety.. I would drop pennies on the floor of the student union building, and Mike would chase after them and as he would pick them up, he'd attempt an uninvited glance up some poor unsuspecting girl's dress.. Needless to say, Mike remained without a girlfriend throughout our friendship, which worked well for me, cause I could keep studying with him.. So back to our reunion.. I was happy to get the email from him, and reminisced about the goofy times we had together.. I wondered what he had been doing with his life these past 10 years.. I had heard that he transferrred to a different college before we graduated, and was studying macrame and dog sledding.. I did a quick search on the internet, and to my complete shock, discovered that Mike had been living in Morocco, spoke fluent Arabic, was employed by the UN, and was devoting his life to humanitarian causes.. This couldn't be the same Mike. Impossible. I called him up.
"Hi, Mike?"
"Yes? Who is this?"
"Say a few words. That voice is familiar."
"Ok, you should know who this is.. "(laughing)
(Giggles from Mike) "I know who this is! Are you naked?"
"Ah, some things never change! "
So Mike was still the same.. Yet he'd also added this completely different dimension to his life. He was involved in an Arabic Culture club, and invited me to his rooftop party in the city.. I was excited to go.. We don't have rooftop parties upstate in the country.. Our roofs are slanted here and everyone would slide off.. But in the city it's romantic.. You can see buildings of all different styles and heights, sprays of neon colors, all in a swirl of urban regalia.. Mike was the perfect host. In honour of my visit, he walked down the five flights to greet me at the door (no elevator in this building).. He looked exactly the same! A serious looking man in a business suit was by his side, apparantly the first guest. Before we knew it, lots of people started arriving. As I was introduced to people, the question of my connection to the Arabic club kept coming up.. My response was the same to each person: Mike is an old friend from college.. And I speak Hebrew, which is also a semitic language.. That line fell flat and generally ended the conversation.. The author of an Arabic instruction book was present as well.. I figured I'd have more of a connection with him, as I am really fascinated with language structures.. I mentioned that Arabic and Hebrew seem to have many similarites.. He agreed, and for emphasis, had me recite the numbers in Hebrew from 1 to 5.. I obeyed, and after each recitation, he would follow with the Arabic equivalent. 'see the similatrities?' He asked excitedly.. I wanted to, but they sounded as different to me as Chinese to Amharic.. I was still pleased with he exchange, and felt a renewed interest in learning Arabic.. It's such a suave, smooth flowing language.. When I was studying Childhood Education at university in Tel Aviv, my favorite class was Arabic.. I had to drop it because I think the concept of learning a new language instructed in Hebrew was too mind-boggling for my brain to process.. I'd stop and think about it, and then start dreaming in Spanish altogether.. So back to the hafleh on the roof.. I met all the women.. Very diverse group.. From 18-40ish, some dressed in traditional muslim attire, some completely modern and revealing.. There was an air of all wanting to meet Mr. Right.. I got that same sense from the men too, come to think of it.. Well let me rephrase that.. The men that looked clearly like Arabic was not their native tongue fell into this category.. Single New York City guys just trying to meet a nice girl.. Some were very odd, but that's to be expected at semi-random gatherings of people.. I had spoken to almost everyone there, when I noticed this small gathering of people sitting in a dark corner of the roof. One man seemed to be looking at me, and I remembered greeting him earlier as I was ducking out of the building for a little bite to eat.. I remembered he had very beautiful eyes, and a calm, intelligent face.. I walked over to him and started a conversation.. I may have been a little tipsy at that point, but the wind at that altitude seemed to sober me up, so I know that my thinking was clear. I'll call this man Said, just because I saw a film with a character with this name, and he had the same, steady gaze.. But that character was very, very serious, and didn't seem capable of light conversations with people of the opposite sex. My Said was very involved in our conversation, or more commited, I should say.. I was aware of being a bit of a conversation hog, but I was just so pleased with this man's ability to follow me.. Somehow I got onto sagas of famous female distance runners.. And this man was completely up-to-date with the BBC'S commentary on the subject! Wow! How many of my recent suitors even watch the BBC let alone follow topics I'm passionate about? Said also had a very centered continence, as though he could survive equally as well on a deserted island isolated from humanity as with a roomful of his closest friends.. But the real sign that he found favor in my eyes, was that I didn't even realize that he was a smoker until after I had left.
I looked down at my watch at one point, and realized that if I ran the whole way, I could make it to Port Authority to make the 12:30 bus back home.. There was no time for any further exchanges.. I said 'goodbye, it was lovely meeting you.. Visit my blog', and the other three men in our circle said in unison, 'We'd like to visit it, too'.. I said my good-byes to a very disappointed Mike.. He was hoping for a help-mate in the after party clean-up (sometimes living far away is a great advantage).. And off I went, down the five flights of steps, the only person running in Hell's kitchen this breezy Friday night..

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Sunny disposition continues, even in lockdown

Yes, I snuck out of the office! I broke rule #47, 'it is forbidden for employees to leave the grounds during their 15 minute breaks'.. And now I'm documenting the deed on my work pc! But I felt this exceptional jaunt was justified, as I had to mail my three Mother's day cards in time for the next mail pick-up.. So I marched myself to the mailbox, dropped the goods, hurried back.. The sun was bright, I had the guilty feeling of an escaped felon.. And I saw a car getting ready to back up.. Oh no! I better not get run over, cause then they'll fire me! I make it back to my desk, notice I haven't pressed the start button of my break-timer.. We are hiring soon I've heard, anyone looking for employment? Gotta get back to work..

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The trouble with Sagittarians

As a 7th grader, living in Manhattan had its ups and downs.. Back then in the '70's, before Giuliani or whichever mayor shipped all the bad elements to the East river, the streets were packed with creepy contruction guys and crude street hooligans, just waiting to prey on innocent girls.. I remember walking down the street one day and a superfly looking dude slithering his arm around my shoulders and saying, 'Yo mama, you lookin' good today'.. I was 13, and not amused.. I removed his arm and said 'I'm NOT your mama', and walked away indignantly.. Nearly 3 decades later (am I THAT old? How did that happen?) my take on NYC is completely different.. I go to the city now to satisfy my wanderlust.. I'm always in the best mood there, the coffee tastes incredible, the pedestrians are fascinating in their ethnicity, the bums are refreshingly candid.. I'm walking down the street, starry-eyed and grinning at how happy I am to be alive and taking in all the excitement that is New York, passing corner stores that carry the freshest floral bouquets from Holland, suave old men walking their jack russells decked out in their little scottish capes.. I'm so content, I almost wish a brick would fall out of a window and kill me, because how can it get any better than this? And I pass a crazy street lady cursing at all the oblivious white people enjoying their mornings.. 'All these FUCKING people!' I pass her, still grinning, because it's kind of hysterical, and then she says about me as I pass 'BITCH!' I'm nearly laughing aloud, because my bluebirds are still dancing around my head in my perfect little world in my perfect little city.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Your Mother's Better than My Mother..

It was a late night conversation with my oldest friend Lena (name changed so she doesn't get in a huff).. I met her back in junior high school in Manhattan.. I was 12.. We both had extremely unconventional families.. My father and older brother and I lived in a loft designed as a photographers studio.. My bedroom was a darkroom, and my bed the place where photos are suppossed to get developed.. I was a precocious pre-teen who thought she had it all figured out.. Then I met Lena, a really sweet, friendly girl, who always wore a scarf around her hair which made her look about 35.. She wanted me to come over after school one day, but was embarrassed by her poverty.. I reassured her that our furniture consisted of electrical spools used as tables found on the street, so she felt ok about the whole thing.. Her mother was this very sweet little old lady who kept offering me iced tea.. She was eccentric, and often embarrassed her two daughters.. Like when she took us all to see Richard Gere in An Officer and a Gentleman, everytime a suggestive scene came on, she'd put a paperbag over Lena's little sisters head.. Rose was Catholic, and occasionally would just sit and talk to herself aloud about how Lena and I shouldn't be friends because I was Jewish.. Lena was mortified, but I knew Rose was a little disconnected from reality sometimes, and didn't take it personally.. I knew she really liked me anyway, because when we all went to Roosevelt Island, she made sure to buy me Mountain Dew soda and a bag of sour cream and onion potatoe chips.. And I was very touched, because I knew sometimes they didn't even have enough money to eat .. You overlook some things, once someone shows they care about you, especially when you're craving that attention that your own family hasn't given you.. I overlooked the really bad smell I noticed one day in their house, too.. Well, not totally.. 'Lena? What's that disgusting smell?' 'I don't know.. It's that bag.. Ma!! What's in that bag??' 'Oh, I saw a dead bird on the street, I felt sorry for it..' MA!!!' (from both daughters) 'You can't keep a dead bird in the house!!' 'He's not hurting anyone'... Flash to my own mother.. My mother has suffered from depression all of her life, but I never really acknowledged it, and just thought she was absent.. Now that she's nearly 70, I'm faced with it and not sure how to approach her oncoming move into needing a caretaker.. So many different issues.. And my approach is to feel responsible, but also dread at having to figure out what she should do with her life..I'm still trying to work out stuff in my own life, so the prospect of directing a severely depressed woman into happiness is a little overwhelming.. So that night Lena and I agreed to trade mothers.. It's a perfect idea! I instantly felt stress dissipate at the exchange.. Something about perception of hardship intensifies it all, and I think we are all too close to our own situations to be objective.. So my first task as Rose's new daughter was to convince her to move into this great senior housing apartment in Manhattan.. Rose had been living in Brooklyn for about 15 years, and complaining the whole time that she wanted to go back to Manhattan.. It would make everyone's lives much easier, as Rose doesn't get around very easily, and complains loudly when Lena or her sister Jenny try and get her on a senior minibus.. They're so convenient, and come right to her house, inexpensive.. But she yells, 'I'm not OLD, I don't need this thing!' and then when they do get her on it, she scowls the whole time.. And makes loud comments about the other poor, down-trodden travellers.. 'Look at that man, he looks retarded!' Lena and Jenny just duck down and pretend they're not with her.. So Lena makes this big effort with the apartment in Manhattan.. Rose needs to be interviewed by the manager first.. Lena takes the day off from work, is on her way over to Rose's house, and calls her on the cell phone to let her know she'll be over soon.. Rose: 'Yes, that woman called me.. I told her I didn't want that apartment'.. Lena flipped out, 'Ma! What do you mean you told her you didn't want the apartment?? Do you know how hard it is to get an affordable place in Manhattan??' 'Oh, another one will come up'.. Lena was too angry to continue the conversation.. So she relays all this to me.. I tell her 'Let me talk to Rose, she'll listen to me.. We have the same birthday' .. Lena is thrilled someone else is getting involved.. I haven't spoken to Rose in about 5 years.. The last time I spoke to her, the whole family was at my house for Thanksgiving.. We were all having a great time, til Rose realized that the girls had meant for her to spend the night at my house.. They tried to convince her that we'd go for a nice drive in the country the next day..She was furious with them.. She doesn't like her routine disturbed.. Plus I didn't have a clock in my house at the time, and it was driving her crazy.. We all went to sleep by about midnight.. I kept hearing Rose every hour.. I was in a sound, peaceful sleep, then I was woken by Rose proclaiming 'How can you live without a clock? I need to know what time it is!' Back to sleep I went.. Again I was woken by her voice in the night: 'Operator? Can you tell me what time it is?' Back to sleep I fell (a perk of being a distance runner.. You can always fall right back to sleep!) Rose's voice again in the night, musing sarcastically: 'Go for a country drive! You'd think they saw enough of the country on the busride up here!' I had to laugh at that one..
OK, so I call Rose as requested.. I was getting excited about talking to her, so many years had gone by, I tend to lose touch with people, and then wonder why because I remember that I really liked them? Anyway, I figured I'd warm her up a little with catch-up talk.. I told her how I ran my first marathon last year.. I asked her if she'd ever gone to watch the NYC marathon.. She said one year she did, she was up at Columbus circle.. I got all excited, 'Yeah! That's around mile 22 where the runners enter the park!' 'Yes,' she said, 'I took a photo there'.. More excitement from me, 'Oh! Did you get a picture of the elite runners in the front or just the crowds of runners?' 'I got a picture of a nice statue in the park'.. Yeah, she's a sagittarius alright.. So I snuck in the first question about the apartment: 'So I heard Lena found a really nice apartment for you in Manhattan.. You weren't interested?' 'I like where I live.. It's on the first floor'.. That sounded reasonable.. 'Yes, but Lena and Jenny could visit you a lot more if you lived in Manhattan'.. She changed the subject.. I felt bad, I could tell it was uncomfortable for her, but I also knew she was being damn stubborn (typical again of the sunsign!), and that her daughters really knew what was best for her.. 'Rose, I'd hate to see you burn your bridges, apartments are hard to come by'.. I was wondering if she knew how hard Lena worked to get this place for her? Just when I started to think she wasn't with me at all, she said sheepishly, 'Lena came in like a lion and out like a lamb!' I had to hold back from laughing.. Lena was FURIOUS when Rose told the lady she wasn't intersted.. 'Sabotoge! My mother is sabotaging my efforts!!' We talked a little more about our art, and her starting a walking program.. I got off the phone feeling really happy to have talked to her, she's really a sweet person.. But also like my efforts to change her mind were in vain.. The next day I got a call from Lena thanking me, as she spoke w Rose, and she had agreed to take a look at the apartment! I was amazed.. Funny how people take in stuff you've told them and you sometimes think they're not even listening.. *sigh*
And it's 100% easier to help someone elses mother.. Lenas' turn

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Dried persimmons and raising Bantus..

I'm one of the biggest fans of dried fruit.. In particular, dried peaches. When done correctly, they are the most perfect food in the universe. Some fruits however, should never be dried. They can taste like a moist old sneaker. Hence, my first taste of a dried persimmon (a fruit that when fresh is quite delicious), will also be my last. OK, this is quite self-indulgent, this fruit-rant.. If anyone has been wondering where I've been, first THANK-YOU for caring! Second, sorry for neglecting you.. Third, I've been happily just not visiting the computer.. I was working on an art project with an ominous deadline, so I needed time to fret about that a few weeks while doing absolutely nothing about 'getting to business'.. Phew, it's finally finished, and I feel kind of wiped out from the effort, but cleansed and evolved.. But not anxious to get started on another one for maybe another year.. Ha ha, this from a girl who wants to quit her job to do something more creative.. I better find a sugar-daddy if that ever happens.. HA! Next to Gloria Steinheim, (sp?) I'm probably the last person in the world you'd ever find even knowing what a sugar-daddy is, much less hooking up with one.. Luxury to me is ice cubes in my drink.. Socks without holes.. Having all of my limbs.. How would I find use out of a sugar-daddy? (I keep thinking of daddy-long legs when I write that word.. Now THERE'S a useful creature.. Selflessly ridding your house of unwanted other bugs..) OK, I was really going to write about some interesting encounters in NYC this weekend, but the moment passed, and besides, I know you're all getting sick of the running stories.. Well, they'll be back, I just need a little break.. Besides, I just drank a Hoegaarden, so I'm in a festive mood..

Sunday, March 19, 2006

4:30 AM Wake up call.. Tamar's back to racing!

Doesn't that sound a little too early to be doing ANY activity, let alone contemplating running as fast as you can for 13.1 miles? I'm used to it, but just wanted to let you know, that I appreciate how inhuman it sounds to the non-runner.. So this was the highlight of my weekend.. Spending the day with a dedicated group of runners in a van driving to Coney Island Brooklyn at 6 am.. What could be better? A lot of foreign accents were co-mingling.. One man with a British accent named Bill was giving me the scoop on today's race, as he ran it last year.. 'You start on the boardwalk, which is about 3/4's of a mile, and some people fell down last year'.. Oh great.. Something to look forward to.. The man sitting on my right was screaming directions to the driver frantically, in some strange sounding accent.. Sounded transylvanian.. 'No NO!! Make a RIGHT!', he barked.. Tara from my town looked alarmed at the level of aggression.. I was enjoying being with new people.. We arrive in town and exit the cozy little van greeted by freezing cold 20 mph winds.. Dressed in very little, in prep for the race.. The logistics of getting to the starting line are quite complicated, and if you're not good with time-management, you'll never make it.. We have about 30 minutes to use the port-o-potties (very long lines), check our race bags, and get to the start .. I'm leaving out about 5 more things you have to accomplish in that time, but I'm getting bored typing it, so I can imagine how you're feeling (I'm such an empathetic blogger.. ) OK, the race goes off, I instantly hate running on the boardwalk.. There are loose skinny little wood planks that threaten to catch your toe with every step, the wind is so cold it renders our feet frozen, so we can't even feel if they're making contact with the ground.. I'm aware of trotting to avoid tripping.. And all of a sudden, BLAM! Runner down on my left.. I felt his pain.. Right on his face.. Poor guy.. On we continued, no time to help the fallen.. We had our own suffering to deal with.. Two miles later, we finally turn off the boardwalk (I make a mental note to never trust anything Bill says..) .. and we head straight into the wind for eight miles up Ocean Parkway.. To take my mind off how hard I'm working, I keep repeating my goal race pace in my head like a mantra.. 7:30-7:30-7:30.. I study the runners in front of me.. I've never seen such strange running forms.. One man has these long swinging arms, and runs with his feet out like a duck.. Like he's Elmer Fudd, chasin' wabbits.. And he's ahead of me! A very old looking man who looks like arthritis has set in everywhere but his head is awkwardly maintaining a spot ahead of me.. We get into Prospect Park, some man on the side is cheering us on.. 'I'm very proud of you!' he announces to us all.. This has a very good effect on me.. 'Wow.. He's proud of me.. I made him proud..' I pick up the pace a little.. And then I see it in the distance.. A long, nasty hill.. I make up my mind to put no effort whatsoever into keeping my pace up it.. (My coach would be mortified.. He's always coaching to maintain an even effort up the hills).. OK, I finally see the finish, sprint like a banshee to get under 1:40, and make.. Close to my goal, a 7:36 pace per mile.. Yay me! 103rd female out of 1,300.. Not too shabby.. The best part is after, when the group I drove down with all gathers to wait for everyone.. How nice to have support! I usually have to fend for myself.. This is the best.. On the trip home, I discover the transylvanian is actually Israeli.. I'm so excited as I rarely get to use my Hebrew.. We get into a conversation in Hebrew about his running, the running community in Israel, if his wife supports his running.. Funny, conversations with men are the same cross-culturally.. The woman always finds out more information about them than they do about the women.. So I think everyone is impressed and astounded with my fluency in this exotic language.. No one heard a word of our conversation.. An Asian man sitting next to me announced that this was his first 1/2 marathon.. The guy beat me by eight minutes.. Genetics are not doled out fairly.. Why should this man be blessed with more speed than me? And better hair? I bet he was jealous of the Hebrew, though..

Thursday, March 16, 2006

I did it! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Six miles to better mental health..

Hi, semi-annonymous blog-world.. How is everyone feeling this evening/morning/afternoon, whenever this post finds you? I myself am feeling a little pesto-woozy.. I make the stuff about 4 times a year, because it takes me about 3 months to recover from the overdose of it.. I really make the best pesto, too good.. So irresistible that I eat the whole batch that's designed to last for a few good lunches.. And then those basil leaves expand in my stomache, and make me wonder what I was thinking.. I never learn.. So I hit a hilly running course today, trying to get back into some level of fitness that will put a little more fear into my competitors' hearts.. At least enough to stop them from being able to talk to me during an event.. It is a wickedly windy evening.. 35 mph winds, and I'm pushing the hills, so my heart is pounding away, and I'm totally incapable of talking.. (Who would try to talk to a runner in such a state, you may ask.. Good question.. And in the middle of a back farm road with little traffic.. ) Well, some poor soul found themselves lost on the road.. My mind was so out of it, I wasn't even aware they were slowing down to ask me directions. Directions! It was all I could do to keep breathing and moving forward, directions was about as realistic as flying.. I didn't want to be rude though, so I gasped out, 'I don't know anything around here!', which came out sounding like a snarky fishwife.. Really ugly voice, I didn't know I had it in me.. The woman said 'Oh, that's really nice', or something like that, as I wheezed on.. I felt really angry, and wasn't sure why.. At first I thought I was angry at the woman.. Couldn't she SEE that I was doing a tortured workout on a blustery day?? Why are people so mindless about what others are going through? But then after a little more time went by, and my breathing went back to normal.. I realized that my nature is to help other people, and had I not been running, I would have happily given this woman directions or anything else she needed.. So my anger was really at myself.. For not being the nice person that I know I am.. But then on further inspection of this situation, I decided that training hard is my right, and truly one of the only times during the day that it's ok for me to be selfish.. And if someone has to miss out on me giving them directions so I can get through my workout, that doesn't make me a bad person.. The trick is to treat myself like I'm my own coach, and protect my need to train hard.. While I'm training, that needs to be my only focus.. And it's better to just not engage in any conversing with others, because frankly, I can't talk and run hard at the same time.. So on I went, ran hard up a few more hills, and boom! Car #2 slows down in the opposite direction I'm running in, rolls his window down.. What am I, the Walmart greeter?? Do I have a sign on my back that says 'This way for directions'? I kept my resolve, and ploughed on with no eye contact.. That was easy.. As I pick up the pace to finish the run, this guy actually turns around and rolls down his window again asking for directions! I just said 'sorry' and kept moving.. Do you people reading this go through these same struggles? Is this weird? Am I worrying too much about what others are thinking? Or am I being a cretin runner deserving of all the abuse drivers often throw my way.. Maybe I should run more with other people and let them deal with those direction-seekers.. Or as Deb suggested to me, wear a t-shirt instructing not to talk to runner.. I think I need some suggestions here.. I'm not confident with my new game plan of ignoring everyone, but I don't see an alternative..

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Race Morning..

Fifteen minutes before I'm suppossed to leave my house to run this local race as part of a club championship.. I couldn't be any less casual about it all.. Still wearing my pajamas.. This is not the real Tamar, who normally wakes up 5 times in the night worrying about race strategy and missing the start of the race.. Well, I'm merely a warm body for this event.. I already told the authorities that I'm in no shape to race seriously.. That being the case, I may actually be able to have a little fun today.. Sidle up to all those people that were chatting away to me mindlessly as I was struggling with the pace last race.. See how they like getting roped into a lengthy conversation on their declining state of fitness as they go into oxygen dept.. Yes, runners are a cruel and sadistic bunch.. If you had considered getting involved in the world of road racing, be prepared for more than a physical challenge.. Some of us are normal out there.. Usually not anyone that's very competitive though.. And the tricky part is, most will deny til the end that they have any desire to win.. 'Oh, I was just out to have a good time'.. OK, right.. It's really quite a riot when your inner systems are bordering on very uncomfortable to I-may-pass-out-from-lactic-acid-build-up any second.. So am I looking forward to seeing all these folks at the race this morning? I guess I have some doubts.. Racing always makes me anxious, I suppose that's normal.. A race is a test, and if you've trained hard, you have a lot at stake, so things that are important to you can give you a healthy anxiety.. I guess my real concern this morning is, since I've eliminated that worry of performing since I'm going to take it easy.. My real concern is how to deal with that woman that always has an in-your-face rude comment disquised as friendly comraderie.. I never know how to deal with those people.. I think they're just clueless that they leave everyone in their paths speechless and offended.. Yup, she will be there.. She kind of leaves you feeling like George Costanza.. Two hours later you come up with the perfect comeback line, and the moment is well over to use it.. Wish me luck..

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Streaker Dick and the Matzo Balls

No, I haven't sold out to my true self, trying to get extra hits on my blog with the promise of perversions.. Dick is an old friend of mine.. Actually, quite a pivotal friend, as I met him in my early twenties when I was just making some big discoveries in life. One of them was running. Dick had a little sporting good store in Ulster county, and in addition to having a 20 year running streak (yeah, that's right, he hasn't missed a single day of running.. Not for a broken ankle, birth of a child, lost Yankees game..) .. now it's actually 30 consecutive years.. So in addition to that cool little accolade, and of course, we all want friends that are unique.. I could always get great running advise from Dick.. So Dick comes by last night to visit.. He's got a tight hamstring from too much running and too little stretching.. He asks for a tennis ball to work it out (this works amazingly well, by the way.. You have to just sit on the floor and let your leg weight-bare on the tennis ball, it feels great and painful at the same time).. So then I offer him my very last bowl of chicken soup w matzo balls that I made to heal myself.. He's enjoying his bowl of soup, sporting these snazzy orange wool socks (runners have some wild socks..).. And he's really not too sure about those matzo balls.. 'You know, these would work great on my hamstring', he says.. I swear, they weren't anywhere NEAR the consistency of a tennis ball, I don't know what his issue was with them! I think they scared him..
Well, I took a pic of Dick and the orange socks eating his matzo ball soup, but sorry, my computer's rebeling and not allowing any proof. OK, so the nicest part of today was that I really feel better.. I tested the waters with a run on the trail I usually run on.. I felt great, the sun was out for once this year, and I was so thankful to be able to run and feel healthy again.. Then in the distance running the opposute direction, I saw a slim figure approaching me.. My friend Donna! Our schedules are so different, we rarely are able to run together, but it worked out perfectly.. She was on the final leg of a 20 mile run, so she was really happy to have someone to entertain her for a few miles.. And I was in such a great mood (for once!) that I didn't bring her down.. I was tempted to tell her about all the psychological warfare that took place at my last race.. But I don't want her to think I'm too much of a psycho, especially in the great mood that I was in.. Did you ever notice that once you've discovered some subject that's slightly touchy with a particular friend, for some reason, you gravitate towards it? I know Donna doesn't like to hear about me feeling insecure or untrusting in social situations, I guess it makes HER feel vulnerable.. But I don't seem to be able to stop myself from doing it, like I'm trying to test a theory.. I think that's how marriages fall apart.. We're always trying to test each other, press the bruises.. Just because they're green and purple, and we expect there to be pain when we press down on them, but still, wouldn't it be fun to just test it? Maybe this time it won't hurt if I press it? It's so much fun though, LOVE pressing the bruises!!!!!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

It's scary away from work.. Stockholm Syndrome?

Yes, after 8 years of complaining that I really should find a job that's a better fit for me, something that will allow my creative side to develop.. And just general anquished complaints about how corporate America is not the right fit for a girl raised by hippies and various step-parents in psychedelic VW bugs.. Where was I going with this? OOh yeah, I finally have a glimmer of the freedom I've been dying for.. As I sit waiting for my doctor's appointment tomorrow to give me the ok to return to work.. But I don't feel free at all.. I think I've forgotten what being free means.. I think I was 5 years old the last time I remembered.. Does that mean I'll never be free again? Nah, I think it means a 2 day reprieve from work does not a free woman make. Freedom really is a state of mind. My freedom throughout my incarceration, er, 8 year term at work has always been my running. I put my 42 hours a week into my job, but the dream of running personal records in races always propelled me forward, prevented me from feeling like my soul was not my own.. Running in races brought me to new countries, new neighborhoods, new worlds.. Physically transported me from my excruciatingly routine life to somewhere better.. Somewhere where people were excited about their accomplishments, excited to see what their bodies were able to do.. Excited to show off their hard labour.. And training for a race is one of the most taxing experiences you can have in this life.. Try running 6 times a mile on a track in 6:41 pace with only a 1 minute rest in between.. Well, I couldn't run more than an 11 minute mile when I first started running, and to just string 2 of them together took me a full month. Now I can run 13 of them back to back at a 7:05 pace per mile. Running saved my life, gave me some focus .. Maybe that's why I'm feeling so out of sorts now.. The doc said no running.. Ah, it's good to change your routine now and then.. Gives you a chance to try other stuff, like blogging..

Monday, March 06, 2006

A good day for REM and Math..

Hello, Deb's loyal readers! OK, how great a gal is she? Not only drags my sick butt to the doctor, after buying me tulips and sick-person goods, but then links me to her own blog! This girl is the most generous-hearted person I've ever met. The bad news is, you all have no idea who you are now stuck with .. And neither do I.. I'd love to stick some random photos in here to liven this whole experience up for those that took the time to meander over.. OK, that took about ten minutes, will have to save that trick for next time. This experience is a bit humbling, as I'm not very fluent with the tools for blogging, and feel like a child in a bad way.. Meaning I feel impatient and would love to just decorate here and there and embellish this post with some fun graphics, but being ignorant to this, am being forced to stick with the writing.. Which in itself is great, but this is a little scarey.. I suppose.. Wondering who is reading this and judging this.. And mostly hoping I'm not boring someone to tears who is being polite to Deb by reading my blog.. It doesn't even feel worthy of the 'blog' title..
A little about me: This is one of the few times I'm absent from my job.. It feels really strange, and I'm putting so much pressure on myself to figure out what other career I should be gravitating towards, that I 'm actually missing my high-stress job! Today was my first official day back at work, after missing 1 full week.. I felt OK, was nice to see everyone, we sit in little cubicles in this call center, the girls that sit in front of me looked relieved that I'd returned.. I'm kind of like the big sister, provide them with a lot of comic relief throughout the day.. I was touched to note several trash gossip magazines made their way to my desk for entertainment.. Brought a toy chicken that lays jellybeans for one girl, Melissa.. Inside joke.. I told her you put the jellybeans in the chicken's head, and then press it's wing and it lays eggs.. Melissa's from the city.. 'You mean the eggs come out of her koolie??' I think that's the word she used, it sounded approriate, so I agreed.. She appreciated her toy chicken.. A few minutes later, while this other woman was filling me in on some meeting I missed, I started getting really light-headed.. Back to the doctor to try and get him to agree to short-termed disability.. He checked all the vital stuff.. Said I'm in perfect shape.. But took some blood for good measure and told me to come back Wednesday.. So it's all in my head! But I was SOOO happy to be able to go back home.. Nothing like the comfort of home after a morning of harsh realities in the office.. OK, exchanging toys doesn't sound very traumatic, but trust me, my job can get really brutal.. Petty politics, whining grown customers that are looking for mental punching bags, constantly increasing sales goals and continual reminders throughout the day of all this.. I'm usually daydreaming about winning a race somewhere on another continent.. But you're pulled back to reality within seconds.. Yeah, it's nice to be writing to you all and listening to REM.. And not doing Math.. I was able to add that to my list of careers I will not choose to pursue in the future..
Good Night, good wishes to all...

Friday, March 03, 2006

One Desolate Blog..

Who but a true Luddite would have accidentally created a blog in a failed attempt to post a comment on a friend's blog? OK, if anyone's reading this, apologies for the emptiness.. I'm too sick to continue with this today.. Hopefully I'll remember I created this tomorrow.. Peace to all..