Imagine

Imagine there’s no heaven
Only pain in this world
Imagine every night you wake
With scary mystery aches throbs stabs.
Imagine 26 days of anxiety
Wondering if you’re silly or a time bomb ticking away to death
Imagine test after test no answers
Research every week obsessing a little on the unknown
Imagine being diagnosed by a rule-out
Thorough if heated communication
Imagine the root cause is treatable
Surgery to happen when work takes a break
Imagine the joy and hope that accompanies less pain
Moving allowed, limited fitness permitted
Imagine the ecstasy as I cross the bridge
Literally to the other side.

Sunday morning. AGR peeps. Sunday.

KCH 3-14-14

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Sleep needed

She needs sleep
Craves it
But it shall not claim her
Not tonight
She wants love

Craves it
But it shall not own her
Not tonight
She needs rest
Craves it
But it shall not have her
Not tonight
She needed focus
Drive wins
It shall have her
Tonight

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Journey

Where the journey began
One step at a time
One foot in front of the other
Twelve weeks of inertia
Career dedication
Physical exhaustion
It begins again

Same beautiful spaces and places
Same joy of body movement
Takes forever to get anywhere!
Butterfly I am
Passed a red and black caterpillar on the way
Thought of my knot and journey
Indelibly saved to my vertebrae.

Journey never ends
Undefined future
Joy reborn
Universe spoke loudly and clearly
I obeyed.

Asthma Yoga Girl?

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First ever yoga session and I was late. I made a nice loud disruptive entry and didn’t know where to find the mats or where to put mine so my feet didn’t end up in someone’s nose later. I was also wearing running compression gear because well, that’s all I own and I knew my butt would be straight up in the air before long. So I settle down and remove my sweaty socks I had on for all of 20 minutes (why oh why did I forget my flip flops???), and get into some kind of position (lotus maybe?). I’m in the front and she smiles at me, ok I can be the teacher’s pet, I’m great at that.

I follow her directions throughout and push myself. Karen tells us today we are focused on non-violence with self or others and I find myself breathing better and calmer. I start to release emotions out the window (yay window!) and I almost feel the urge to cry it’s such a relief to workout, stretch and find peace in fitness. For the first time in my life I can control my breathing and use my muscles. Am I dreaming?

At one point the pain was excruciating and I doubted my ability to do yoga; I realized I was having a crisis of confidence I see so often in my classroom. Confronted with an unfamiliar activity and set of directions I briefly panicked as I tried to execute a more challenging maneuver, but I quickly centered myself, recovered and expended my best effort. (That’s one of my five classroom rules, effort). We finished with lavender oil and “Namaste.” I am in love with yoga.

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Back to school!!!

I am so excited. Thursday is the first day of school. I cannot wait to greet my students, it is a privilege to teach. Yes, I teach the kids some other teachers don’t want or can’t handle. And I still assert that I am privileged to have the opportunity to show them that a teacher can be one of the most important people in their lives.

It is a gift, the love of children. People forget that. But as I spent two weeks training and developing and decorating and moving …..and I look around the space I created, all I can think about are the children I did it for. All I can think about is greeting them the first day. Yes, I am excited. I am ecstatic. I know how lucky I am to have this job. To teach them to read, to behave, to compute, to explore….I am blessed.

Teachers, it’s time to welcome our students, how awesome is this time of year?!!

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AGR plays volleyball….first time since P.E. class

I always liked volleyball.  I wasn’t good in P.E. class, but it was the sport in which I felt the least humiliated and incompetent.  My mom moved me around three times after my parents split (thankfully) when I was 14, and we ended up in Kettering where I learned the basics of volleyball; those kids had been playing for years because it was part of their P.E classes so I still stood out, but I had the excuse of being new to the district, which helped offset my lack of skill.  

I’ve spent my whole life telling myself I was uncoordinated because that’s what my parents and maybe others taught me at an extremely young age.  I remember struggling to learn proper swimming techniques, and the lifeguard becoming frustrated with me at our private pool, Phillips Aquatic Club, which was racist, blatantly so….as I learned later, but I digress.  I soon learned that people with privilege have little patience for those who fall outside the norm, and my grandparents were upper middle class while my parents and I were at or below the poverty level; my grandparents took us on vacation and paid for my pool memberships and passes.  

For me, learning sports from adults was stressful because it was always accompanied by yelling, shame, derision, put-downs, anger, violence…..I was scared to learn anything new because I didn’t know if someone might hit me or throw something at me.  I think, no, I know, this is why I’m good with my ED students in a public district.   My feelings about privilege and my experiences student teaching only emphasized where I belonged.  I understand all too well the fears my students have day and night.  I just masked it and functioned better as a child because I didn’t have an emotional disturbance; I was typical emotionally, and gifted intellectually; I had coping mechanisms, but none of these translated into sports.  

I know I’ve evolved a lot in recent years and dealt with many of my issues, so I was ready to give sports another try.  I kept telling people I really wanted to try volleyball, and when I went on a date with someone who plays in a league, and we decided to just be friends, I asked if he would show me the basics so I could start playing, and he said yes!  He invited me that very week to come practice somewhere, and I got to play actual games, and I loved it.  Then he asked me to come watch them play with the possibility that I could practice later also at their league, so I went. I ended up playing six or seven games, one of his friends and teammates helped me practice bumping (I so don’t have that skill) and reminded me how to set properly.  I was told more than once that evening that I have tremendous confidence….I think I finally fteel that confidence inside and out, and it shows.  I am pretty terrible  at volleyball, but I am playing.  I made new acquaintances, I felt alive and happy.  

I loved it so much I went back again last night into the soupy wet sands, taking my two kids with me.  I practiced with my twelve year-old and some of my friends while my son played in the sand soup.  He was soaking wet with water and sand, looking as if he’d been through a sand hurricane.  Later that evening, I played with my daughter and some other kids, and I loved that as much as the real play; I felt like a teacher should, being patient, playing with the babies and helping them feel good about playing volleyball with a grownup.  I remember the lack of support I had as a kid, and so I played even when my ankle and knee were sore from the day before.  I am a competitive person and I used to compete only on the academic field.  With running, and now volleyball, I can be intense; mentally and physically focused; I can, despite my asthma and lack of coordination, overcome genetics and my environment to play sports, even if not very well.  No one can stop me from loving sports but myself…..now a participant, not just a spectator.  Image

NYC…..I love New York (and Island Park, Long Beach Long Island too!)

 

The drive to Smithton PA to meet KatieKat was pretty awesome.  I had plenty of time, I even managed to stop at an Aldis and obtain supplies for the trip (trail mix, anyone?).  I drove through the straight flat part of Ohio and then all of the hills and valleys as I moved closer to West Virginia and Pennsylvania.  

Driving DOWN the hill into WV

Driving DOWN the hill into WV

I made it to the Flying J in Smithton where I had a delicious egg white veggie omelette with fruit.  Yes, I’m on vacation to NYC and sticking to my food plan.  I’m going to stay healthy until after my 5k and then I will allow myself a NY bagel.  Otherwise, I was planning to stay on healthy carbs only…..and I did, thank you very much scale at KatieKat’s sister’s house. Lucky that object was there to taunt me daily…..oh and yes I broke my vow with myself not to weigh in 2013.  I needed an intervention.  I’m even counting calories and tracking every minute of training now….but I digress, rambling and running on tangents as usual.  KatieKat was there at the gas pump looking all blond and sexified…..as usual, for the record.  So we reconnected, bought some water and quickly hit the road for Island Park, Long Island NY.  A lifelong dream realized.

It was a silly, dark, long drive.  But we made it.  We caught up.  We had girl time, we laughed, we ate, we talked.  It was a good time to understand what cannot be clearly communicated in text.  The whole trip, her Mom and sister called all the time.  I know it drove her insane, but the sister calls were caring.  I was envious of the love there, even with the judgement that sometimes accompanied it.  The Mom calls I get were more selfish in nature, I wasn’t fooled.  I know how that rolls.  But the description from her sister of walking up and down the Vegas strip trying to find the perfect thing for Kat, well, that was sweet.  I saw parts of my friend’s life I couldn’t have seen otherwise.  Her sister and brother-in-law were so sweet, generous, kind to me.  I couldn’t have asked for a nicer place to stay.  Kat made me take the bed, she slept on the air mattress.  Yes, that was sooooo appreciated.

My attempt at taking a pic entering NYC.  When it is dark, it is dark!

My attempt at taking a pic entering NYC. When it is dark, it is dark!

At this point I’m sure you’re wondering why it has taken me this long to finish the blog about a trip that ended on June 24.  Why am I struggling so much with talking about a vacation?  I’m not sure I even know the answer.  Maybe it’s because I felt acutely free in NYC, free to see exactly what I wanted and eat where I wanted for days in a culinary wonderland, maybe it’s because though I loved the freedom, I longed more than anything to be shackled to some man with whom I would have to negotiate food choices and stops and order and which way to walk down the street or which subway train to take, or maybe it is because I missed my children acutely and many times I day I took pictures because I couldn’t wait to share them with my kids, who were at home missing me too. I’m sure it’s all of those reasons because let’s face it, I’m complicated and there’s never just one answer.

A word about my hosts….gracious, amazing loving people.  Kat was selfless and loving and wonderful, really.  It was the best vacation I’ve had without my kids since I left my husband 3.5 years ago. It was great, and they were a huge part of that.  HUGE people.  Just huge.  I can attach a million pictures of NYC but the fact is…..these are the pics that shows  it.  Kat only had one night and one day she could go out, and she spent those with me.  Me.  Gave me all of it.  Not to her sister……to me.  I recognize and appreciate that gift.  I love her, and I wouldn’t have been in NYC without her.  It was supposed to be my escape from relationship pain and it became a trip that meant so much more.

Me and Kat on the Staten Island Ferry, returning to Manhattan.  Best pic :)

Me and Kat on the Staten Island Ferry, returning to Manhattan. Best pic 🙂

Kat and I out at this bizarre beach bar playground restaurant full of Jersey shore wanna-bes...

Kat and I out at this bizarre beach bar playground restaurant in Long Beach, Long Island full of Jersey shore wanna-bes…

There’s so much to tell about what I saw, what it felt like, what it looked like.  I do not know where to start and if my bloody iphone battery weren’t so horrid I could have blogged as I went.  But in retrospect there are moments that stood out.  Like the 9/11 Memorial.  Kat was even more affected than myself.  It was painful, sad.  The Staten Island Ferry was before then, so it was joyful, fun.  Then we went to Chinatown which was so dirty and busy and smelly and so not what I expected.  Great place to shop and buy junk though.  I went crazy for the kiddos both times I was there.  My first glimpse of Times Square was with Kat and it was getting dark.  My jaw dropped and I knew I needed hours to hang out there the next day.  It’s sensory overload but wow…….these are the highlights of my first day.

the first thing I saw emerging from the subway (penn station)

the first thing I saw emerging from the subway (penn station)

the subway....it is an awesome thing you don't appreciate when you're on it...the speed.

the subway….it is an awesome thing you don’t appreciate when you’re on it…the speed.

Lady Liberty

Lady Liberty

Requisite crowded Staten Island Ferry pic on return to Manhattan

Requisite crowded Staten Island Ferry pic on return to Manhattan

9/11 Memorial.  The entire squads, fire departments lost hit me so hard

9/11 Memorial. The entire squads, fire departments lost hit me so hard

Little Italy....Sofia's had the best sangria ever

Little Italy….Sofia’s had the best sangria ever

Day 2.  I was scared.  I kept pep talking myself that I could tour NYC alone, including the train to and from Island Park Long Island to Penn Station, and all around the city.  I planned to see the Empire State Building, Central Park, and hours and hours in Times Square. I didn’t get lost once.  Not once.  I made it all around the city and I took train after train, walked block after block after block until at times I was nearly delirious despite trying to stay hydrated and fed.  I carried water and trail mix but still…….I had many weak moments in the heat of the city. I survived them all, though, obviously. The only real downside to this day were the three times people reminded me that I shouldn’t be alone because I was too beautiful to be alone….WTF, I mean, really, WTF is that.

just inside the lobby of the empire state building.  truly a majestic, beautiful structure inside

just inside the lobby of the empire state building. truly a majestic, beautiful structure inside

view of chrysler building from Empire State Building.  Total wow.  History of both buildings in the ESBNY

view of chrysler building from Empire State Building. Total wow. History of both buildings in the ESBNY

that's me on the ESBNY

that’s me on the ESBNY

Belvedere Castle where all of the weather has been recorded for over a century, providing the stats quoted for NYC to this day

Belvedere Castle where all of the weather has been recorded for over a century, providing the stats quoted for NYC to this day

View of Central Park West from Belvedere Castle

View of Central Park West from Belvedere Castle

Me in Central Park West

Me in Central Park West

Times Square

Times Square

The Statue in Aeropostale Times Square, the coolest Statue ever (and best Aero!)

The Statue in Aeropostale Times Square, the coolest Statue ever (and best Aero!)

I'm dark but that's me.....

I’m dark but that’s me…..

Day 3 was the race at Long Beach.  Everyone stared at me.  I’ve never felt so conspicuous at a race.  It was a very small, community race, the Sean Ryan 9th Annual Memorial; he was a police officer who died of cancer.  It was a joyous and somber event I think, and I really felt out of place.  I was slow, Asthma Girl as usual on a very HOT 80 degree morning (why oh why?) and I knew I would struggle.   I asked someone to take my picture, explained it was my pre-race ritual and they looked at me like I was insane but a girl did it anyway.

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While I was in line for the bathroom, there was a woman struggling who had been in a stall for ages, and when I was told that, I whispered back, “Oh, poor thing” and the woman replied, you are too sweet.  I replied with what Kat had told me….”Oh, my Ohio is showing again.”  She said don’t ever lose that……..and I can say many days later, that I won’t. I will stay sweet.  Compassionate.  Kind.  Nice to strangers.  I will say please and thank you.  I will cry like I did when Sean Ryan’s children and wife took the stage to give out awards.  It’s who I am.  I am Ohio.  Since my return, I’ve happily embraced it.  Ohio, that’s me.  Super K from Ohio.

After the race, the bay behind me

After the race, the bay behind me

As usual, I suffered from some heat exhaustion, and it didn’t hit me until about two hours afterward.  But I ate what I could, I drank fluids, I tried to recover.  I had to take this huge stupid nap and missed the rest of the day I could have been at the beach.  But since with two days in NYC and the race had depleted me, I stayed in.  Sucks but it’s my body, I don’t want to kill it on vacation, or end up in the ER.  That evening Kat and I went out, so I had that fun at Pops, the crazy sandy beach bar restaurant place.  Fire pits were awesome, it was super cold and I wished I had a sweatshirt and flip flops, but I was in a dress, and my Ohio was showing oh so badly (many girls were in dresses but it’s a better story that way).

Ok….so now I have my last day in NYC and I had to plan what I would do.  I debated over the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET for short) or MoMA the Museum of Modern Art.  MoMA had VanGogh and Monet.  Sold!  I managed to use my student ID (score) so that was my first stop for the day, and here are a couple of beautiful pics…..

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a horrific depiction of hide and seek from a child's perspective Pavel Tchelitchew

a horrific depiction of hide and seek from a child’s perspective
Pavel Tchelitchew

Yes.  The real one.  Starry Night.

Yes. The real one. Starry Night.

Monet

Monet

Marilyn

Marilyn

So those were masterpieces.  And then there is the concept of modern art.  And that, my friends, in my not esteemed opinion, is backwash.  Crap.  Garbage. Mess.  Not art.  Here’s some of what I mean, and I apologize to Jackson Pollock fans because it’s not garbage or mess but I swear my five year-old makes the same stuff on our kitchen floor.

pretty yes, but art?

pretty yes, but art?

a pile of carpet, wire, mirrors, thread and mess

a pile of carpet, wire, mirrors, thread and mess

Three rooms of this in like seven colors.  really<<<waste of space.

Three rooms of this in like seven colors. really<<

Like I said my son could do this.....

Like I said my son could do this…..

After MoMA I was tired but refused to be tired….it was really, really hot that day.  I went to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, it was under incredible construction, and then I walked to Rockefeller Center, through the NBC building, to Radio City Music Hall, got sick, drank a protein shake, felt worse….kept walking, went to St. Patrick’s to hear part of mass, then finally went back to Chinatown to shop while dehydrated  and to Little Italy to hydrate and eat.  I drank an entire liter of sparkling water, ate melon and prosciutto and clams….heaven.

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inside St Pat’s

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Me, Rockefeller Center. I’m sure it is magnificent in winter at Christmas

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Atlas. Pretty cool

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Just a FRACTION of St Patrick’s Cathedral on the outside….crazy

Eventually….I was worn out.  I did NYC so thoroughly I felt like I couldn’t move any further. I was praying we would make it to the beach before I left.  And………so I said farewell to NYC subway to head back to Island Park, Long Island for the last time.

penn station

penn station

the post office.  the freaking post office

the post office. the freaking post office

Ok.  So that night………the beach.  I should wax poetic about what it looked like and felt like, because it was poetic.  The sky was darkening….we had Starbucks and I had a sweatshirt on and I got into the water to play….because I could.  It was so beautiful, oh so unbelievably gorgeous to watch the sun set and moon rise…the cycle, symbolic of life, which continues so relentlessly, even when we desperately wish for it to slow down and tick by not so quickly.

the ocean rushing at you in the darkening night...sensations swirling, cold, seaweed.....

the ocean rushing at you in the darkening night…sensations swirling, cold, seaweed…..

moon rising....yeah, it looks like the sun it was the special super psycho moon

moon rising….yeah, it looks like the sun it was the special super psycho moon

looks like fire.....right before we left

looks like fire…..right before we left

We went home…me chattering nonstop about how soon we needed to leave in the morning to head home, did Kat want to go to the beach before we left, did we want to eat breakfast first…..like a little kid.  Often I reminded myself of my own daughter, and I missed her chatter all the time.  I missed my son’s chatter and questions also….as I neared the end I just felt guilty that my babies didn’t make it to the beach.  I packed up that night.  In the morning we were waiting for Kat’s sister going crazy so we could go to breakfast and the beach…..had our first good omelettes.  They SUCK at omelettes in NYC, they’re better in Ohio.  HAH!

The beach, in the morning, Hempstead Beach….almost made me cry.  Cry for missing my kids, cry for joy of the sand between my toes, the ocean rushing over my body.  It was…….ecstasy.  Better than sex….yep, the beach, for the Ohio girl….better than sex.  I’ve never had sex on the beach………it’s on my bucket list, for sure.  (sorry if anyone young is reading).

my FAVE new pic.....that's some serious happy, fantastic beach hair and that shoulder....

my FAVE new pic…..that’s some serious happy, fantastic beach hair and that shoulder….

I let the water crash over me.....all the way in my suit, I wanted to get all the way in so badly but not enough time left

I let the water crash over me…..all the way in my suit, I wanted to get all the way in so badly but not enough time left

the families on the beach with their umbrellas, we arrived just as it opened so it wasn't crowded

the families on the beach with their umbrellas, we arrived just as it opened so it wasn’t crowded

Now for the sad part.  We head home. It rains.  We miss an exit and end up headed east again.  Drive through Philadelphia.  Have a new joke.  Yep, that’s an aquarium…in a deadpan, scary Daria voice that should never come from the ebullient AGR.  I wish I loved Phillly but I love Pittsburgh, so nope, I cannot.  I wish I loved the long drive home but it made me pretty exhausted.  It took 15 hours to get home.  It was like the worst jet lag ever of my life…..seriously.

Philly.

Philly.

I miss NYC.  And this has taken forever to write.  And I miss it.  The stinky milk smells in the street, the underarm odor, the people touching and brushing and bumping, fighting for entrance to the subway and the Long Island Railroad trains….I miss the tall buildings.  The heat rising off the sidewalk.  The people and their crazy, brash personalities.  I miss being somewhere that my Ohio shows.  I’ve come to appreciate so many things about Dayton but I miss the insanity.  I want something between Dayton and NYC.  Maybe Chicago, I’ve been there, or Seattle?  I miss the big city.  I always knew I would love NYC and my experience only reinforced all it has to offer.  I know I don’t want to live there, I’m not delusional.  These apartment buildings, endless miles of them convinced me.

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I conquered NYC as much as I could in the time I had……..it’s inside me now and I cannot wait to take my children back with me.  We will visit the Bronx Zoo, Grant’s Tomb, and  the 9/11 memorial because my daughter was born that year and she feels that inside of her, even though she was 8 months old, because she’s seen the images her whole life.  We will visit Times Square and I will have them tethered or something……it’s rather insane for a parent there.  I will take them to the peace of Little Italy, so quiet and calm, and so pretty. I will show them how to ride the subway and how to hold on for dear life….how to survive in the big city with bottles of water and Gatorade. I hope to return in two years time, life permitting.  I love New York.

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