Sunday, May 30, 2010

Boomerang Effect

Interesting gifts have been coming my way lately. It all started when I went out to my favorite bar with a classmate. My friend had just revealed that she'd never been out of the country, and I was listing distant places for us to travel to. When I got to Australia, my friend said she wouldn't feel comfortable going there, as she had heard that minorities are not welcomed. Hearing the mention of racism sober always brings on a visceral response from me. After a Blue Moon or two, unprecitable things can occur. Half joking, I announced 'Well, we can just forget about Australia, then!' And my dramatic accompanying arm gesture sent my fresh pint of Blue Moon flying off the table. The liquid that had been occupying my full glass had now darkened the powder blue back of the shirt of the unfortuate man sitting at our table. I didn't give him a chance to fully express his anger, I just kept apologising, thinking about how thoroughly annoyed I would have been if our roles were reversed. Then I thought I'd explain that the reason for the mishap was related to racism. Instantly, the beer-soaked man took up our cause and started vigilantly decrying every potential country that would dare to ruin the future vacation in discussion. Inebriation is an amazing thing, I thought as I smiled at his attempts at flirting. Magically, a brand new Blue Moon pint made its way in front of me the next moment. Some bystander had witnessed the drama, and wanted to assist in the losses. I smiled at my friend. She now understood why this was my favorite bar.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Go To Sleep Tamar!

Beautiful low humidity day. I went out for a short test jog to loosen up before a 1/2marathon I am doing tomorrow. As I start my jog, each fiber in each leg is tight and resistant. As my friend Mike would say, this does not bode well. I really didn't need another excuse to bail on this Brooklyn race. It starts at 7:00 am. In Brooklyn. That's kind of insane, and means I should be going to sleep around 8 at night to get enough sleep. So I'm not taking it too seriously. I finish my jog, and spot one of my building neighbors. A very tall Asian woman who is almost always walking two blond dogs. She is dogless today. We always say hello and only hello as we pass. I'm feeling really bold, and think how nice it would be to find out her name. I look up and she's already crossed the street. I have to jog to catch up to her. She's going to think I'm stalking her. I don't care. Her name is Yu-Chen and she walks five days a week. She was impressed with the fact that I may finish this 1/2 marathon in under 1:40. I have lived in this building for two years and we never said more than hello. I think that's how most New Yorkers tend to be. After I showered, I had a whole agenda. I swung by an old school I worked in when I first moved here. A small group of 2nd graders in Summer school still remembered me when I passed by their school last year coming home from work. They all ran to the playground fence and screamed out 'Ms. S.! Ms. S.!' One girl in particular, Lakshmi, would not let me leave until I gave her my phone number. I'm not sure why she wanted it, but I gave it to her. Flash forward another year, and our community bulletin told me their school was having a festival open to the public. I knew she'd appreciate a visit, so I stopped by. It was in the school yard, and the sun was so strong I started tearing. I looked all around, and didn't see any of my kids. Then I saw Felipe. He looked exactly the same, just a foot taller. He was the one who looked so tough in school, but when the cooperating teacher yelled at all the kids to put their bag lunches away before she counted to ten, he offered to put my lunch in his backpack. I wanted to say hi to him, but thought he may not remember me. I walked around, disappointed that Lakshmi wasn't there. Still I sensed she was there. I walked over to this huge inflatable house where children were jumping inside and could be seen through this mesh window. I saw a jubilant dark girl with straight black hair. That was her. When she came out, I called her name. She turned around and smiled, and gave me a big hug. 'What's your name again?' she asked. I reminded her. She had a worried look on her face as she looked around for her friends. She ran away to find someone, then ran back and gave me another hug. She was distracted by all the things she wanted to play on. She looked beautiful, and she was wearing the same dress she wore on my last day when all the kids gave me a special presentation. Her cousin had made it, and it was a very unique design. She ran off again to get on a line for a ride. I walked around to see if I could find anyone else, but didn't. I thought I'd say good-bye to Lakshmi. I went up to her. She told the girls waiting in front of her who I was. I asked her how school was going, and what she was going to do this Summer. I told her that I was going to run a long race tomorrow. I told her how I'd run an even longer race last month, and that it caused me to lose one of my toenails. Kids love that stuff. I was wearing sandals, so she was able to observe the situation. She studied my foot with concern for a full minute. I told her I had to go. She made me promise to write her a letter. I told her I would, but she'd have to send me one back. She said she would try. I left and trekked over to NYRR's office to pick up my race number and goodies bag. They're so organized over there, I guess they have to be, their events are so huge. As the woman assigned to the R-S box was searching for my number, I was chatting with this other volunteer whose name I can never remember. The other woman handed me my number, and I continued chatting with my friend. I asked her if there was anything else I needed, and she turned over my race packet and said I just need to affix that sticker to my bag. I'm really glad she turned over my envelope, because it belonged to some 31 year old man who wasn't me! He had some similar crazy Eastern European name. I told the woman who handed it to me, and she was a little flustered as she had confirmed it with me. I apologised since it was my fault for not paying attention, but assured her that I am not a 31 year old man. Some other runner picking up his packet looked at me and said, 'I can vouch for that'. That was presumptuous of him. What am I doing still writing?? I have to go to sleep. Wish me luck getting up at 3:30 :-(

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A belated thank-you

My creative writing skills have been beaten out of me with the advent of graduate school participation. No one cares about interesting narratives, apparently. It's all about facts and citations and correlations. And correct formatting, let's not forget. So I'll leave the creative stuff for now to someone whose well of talent never runs dry. Here is a great video my sister put together of some highlights from the Boston marathon. This turned out to be a great family weekend for us, with my niece Hailey celebrating her graduation from culinary school in Boston, and then on Monday, both my niece Alex and I boarded the school bus in Boston for the long ride to the start of the race. Alex is an amazing person (as are all of my nieces!!)and an amazing runner. She only recently got into marathon running, and within two tries qualified to compete in Boston- a feat that most runners can only hope to one day accomplish. She definitely has the heart of a runner, devoting most of her life to service for underprivileged and neglected populations around the world.
I was undecided about running in this race until the last few days, but despite my own indecision, I felt the support and caring of many people. Thank-you to everyone who shared in the excitement, I'm not naming names, but you know who you are. Some agreed to drive there and arrange the whole trip, some sacrificed beds to keep the snorers from the racers the night before the race, some created goody baskets with gourmet foods, some provided a selection of Gatorade during a final leg of a long run (a SELECTION, mind you, not just yellow or green- yellow AND green). OK, I have a paper to finish, and I didn't intend to get all sentimental; but I did forget to say thank-you. THANK-YOU, GUYS!