Thursday, May 13, 2010

Uncomfortable Much

There are some things that I don't like talking about and some things that you should not talk about because you are bound to piss somebody off or weird somebody out.

Church-y Things
I've mentioned before on this blog that YG and I are very involved in our church. It's a great church, and Congregational and in Cambridge so it's about as open and affirming (read: big, gay) as you can get. We stumbled across it when we both realized we wanted to go back to church, and I've been grateful ever since. We were married there, we volunteer there, and we had Zygote baptized there. It's a home of sorts.

Still, I have struggled with feeling like I gave up on the Catholic Church. Or not the church, but the "culture." It seems like it's hard to be an Italian American without being Catholic -- everything is intertwined, and many things that I consider part of my weird "heritage" are probably more church-related than ethnic (the nativity, the feasts on Christmas Eve, praying to all the saints for any number of problems, etc). Sometimes I feel like I am rejecting where I came from. Add to that the fact that most of the people in our Church share common faith backgrounds, and it's sometimes like I'm speaking another language. I had/have no idea what all the political differences between Methodists and Presbyterians and Baptists and blah, blah. I mean, for Catholics, Protestants are Protestants. Period.

But then I remember. I didn't reject anything. According to the "rules," I am going to Hell because I'm divorced. From (bolds are mine):

The trap that some Catholics find themselves:

Couples that obtain a civil divorce and remarry without first obtaining an annulment are denied access to the Sacraments of Penance (a.k.a. Confession) and Holy Eucharist. (Catechism 1650). They are caught between a rock and a hard place:

If they continue in the new marriage, then they cannot repent of and confess their sins through the Sacraments of Penance, and return to Communion. Meanwhile, their sins are accumulating. Because the church does not recognize their new marriage, it considers every sexual act within the marriage to be a new act of adultery -- a mortal sin. According to the church's teachings, this means that they will not attain Heaven when they die. They will end up being eternally tormented in Hell. There are only two ways of avoiding this state:

To be fortunate enough to not die suddenly (e.g. to not die instantly in a car accident or from a massive heart attack). This way, they might be able to receive the Last Anointing by which their mortal sins are forgiven. Needless to say, this is a risky route to take.

To make an "act of perfect contrition" instead of Confession. But this requires the individual to repent of what the Church considers their sins of adultery, and sincerely intend to never engage in "adultery" in the future.

If they separate from their new spouse, and live alone, and sincerely intend to remain separated unless a annulment is granted, then they can resume their access the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist. But that would require them to violate their new marriage vows, and terminate their marital relationship. This option often seems profoundly immoral to the couple, particularly if there are children involved.

But then I remember. Some of my friends and my FAMILY are not welcome to receive communion either because of who they are.

But then I remember. The sex abuse scandal. A hierarchy that didn't protect the smallest victims.

This might be the final straw for me. A Catholic school in Massachusetts withdrew the acceptance of an 8-year-old boy because his lesbian parents' relationship was "in discord" with the teachings of the church. Since the story broke, the Superintendant of the Boston Archdiocese has offered to help find a place for the kid, but too little, too late.

I guess I'm just done. I hate rabid anti-Catholic sentiments, and I like to point out all the good work that Catholic Relief Services has done around the world (Kristoff did too). But I'm tired. You can only do so much. And when the Church continues to do bigoted shit like this, you (read: I) just lose all desire to try and find the positive.

It's time to leave that behind, and accept that I am part of a new church* where I just fit better.

* And now I can spend the time that I used defending Catholicism to explain the differences between my church and the crazy, nutso Evangelicals.

Jugs, Or More Specifically, Mine

I could spend all day talking about boobs and bra sizing and hooters, as long as they don't belong to me. I've been reluctant to talk about nursing the Zygote because people have very specific ideas about what is and isn't appropriate with regards to breastfeeding. If I talk to one group, I am an evil harpy because I have been giving my kid a bottle of formula every day since she was 6 weeks old and I introduced her to bottles at 2 weeks. If I talk to another group, I am some crazy earth momma hippie that wears hemp clothing and is really into composting because 11 months in, I am still nursing.

Or was. A few days ago, Zygote just decided she didn't want to nurse anymore. She's never gone on a nursing strike before, and we've kept the same schedule (nursing in the morning and night, and on weekends/bottles during the day) since I went back to work 7 months ago. I had been doing a lot of research about weaning, so in some sense, I was prepared for this. And I know it might also be a phase -- kids her age rarely self-wean this early.

I never expected that I would be doing this this long, and I never thought I would get so emotionally attached to it. I heard that the depression following weaning could sometimes be as bad as postpartum depression, and considering I spent the first month after Zygote was born wishing I would get hit by a car so that someone more competent could take of her -- this freaks my shit all out.

I've been following her lead, giving her the bottle, but following the rest of our routine: reading her a story, rocking her, letting her play with my hair. She's fine. And I know I'll be fine, phase or not, but it's very bittersweet. I feel grateful to have part of my life back, but I also can't believe my little baby is growing up.

How's that for barfy? And if I really wanted to be gross, I would now post a cute picture of my kid.

Oh, look. I just did.

What? I Can't Hear You

It's been a year since YG lost his hearing. He participated in a study last summer, but his hearing never returned. With physical therapy, his balance did return and he's able to ride his bike again. I don't talk about this much because it really isn't my story to tell, and you deal with the hand you've been given and handle the situation in front of you. YG and I are not the type of people who let themselves break down. Or grieve. Or be off our game. Or take break. But that's a whole other blog. And we never really had time to think about what happened -- Zygote was born a few weeks later, the MG got sick, his career took off, I went back to work, etc. etc.. I am profoundly grateful that YG didn't suffer a more serious disease, but that doesn't mean I still don't feel a sense of loss, and the usual "the world is so unfair" crap. YG has dealt with some major shit in the course of his young life (yes, YG, you read that right -- young), and I hate that he ended up with another turd in the shit sandwich. He's dealt with it with grace and calm, as is his way, and I'm just thinking about it on this unfortunate anniversary of sorts.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Look Your Best Week

The ladies over at Academic Chic are doing this again this year, and I think it's awesome. It plays nicely into my whole 'shop from the closet' experiment.

Speaking of which, I found this blog entry describing why and how people tune into outfit posts. I admit that I am a bit obsessed with them, and I love how people present them. Photography draws my eye a lot, and I feel slight mortification that my photos are all taken with our old digital camera in our very crappy bathroom. But I am not a fashion blogger, so cut me some slack.

While reading through all of these blogs this morning (okay, well, reading the links from Already Pretty), I came across this awesome Margaret Cho quote:

"And I have a lot of self-esteem, which is amazing, because I’m probably somebody who wouldn’t necessarily have a lot of self esteem, as I am considered a minority. And if you are a woman; if you are a person of color; if you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender; if you are a person of size; if you are person of intelligence; if you are a person of integrity, then YOU are considered a minority in this world. And it’s going to be really hard to find messages of self-love and support anywhere, especially women’s and gay men’s culture. It’s all about how you have to look a certain way, or else you’re worthless. You know, when you look in the mirror and think, “Ugh, I’m so ugly, I’m so fat, I’m so old.” Don’t you know that’s not your authentic self? That is billions upon billions of dollars of advertising: magazines, movies, billboards, all geared to make you feel shitty about yourself, so that you will take your hard-earned money, and spend it at the mall on some turn-around creme that doesn’t turn around shit. If you don’t have self-esteem, you will hesitate before you do anything in your life. You will hesitate to go for the job you want to go for. You will hesitate to ask for a raise. You will hesitate to call yourself an American. You will hesitate to report a rape. You will hesitate to defend yourself when you are discriminated against because of your race, your sexuality, your size, your gender. You will hesitate to vote. You will hesitate to dream. For us to have self-esteem is truly an act of revolution, and our revolution is long overdue. I urge you all today, especially today in these times of terrorism and chaos, to love yourselves without reservation and to love each other without restraint. Unless you’re into leather, then by all means, use restraints. Thank you."

That was sourced back to this blog that I immediately added to my favorites.

Her stated mission:

"Size 14+ women are desexualized, infantilized & prematurely aged by commercial apparel designers, given insanely few choices for covering their bodies, and made to pay double for half the quality.
Egregious sequins, boatnecks, 3/4 length sleeves, bad graphics, thin polyester:
I, for one, am outraged.And you are too.NonPlus looks into the toxic world of “Plus-Sized Fashion” and teases out the interesting & incredible from the insulting."

AND, she's local. Cool.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

What JM Talks About When She Talks About Running

I finally finished reading Haruki Murakami's What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. I've been meaning to write about what I thought about the book, along with other thoughts on running/writing and a confluence of events, including some really good weeks at work.

The book is classified as a memoir, but it is equal parts training log, travelogue and writers' manual. Or could be classified under the broad category of Books I Read At Exactly The Right Time. I picked this up a few years back at City Lights in San Francisco, when I first picked up running. I really don't know what my impetus was to start running at that particular time. It seems like a fairly dumb sport to pick up in your 30s when you're overweight and not particularly fast. But for as long as I could remember, I had "run a marathon" on my list of New Year's Resolutions, even though I never actually, you know, RAN. Pipe dreams. I had tried biking because YG was into it, but I'm too competitive and it bothered me to know that I would never be as good at biking as he was/is. I guess I needed something for myself, and I had a few friends that had success with Couch to 5K, so there you go. As with most things in my life, I kind of fell into it.

And now a few years later, I feel pretty confident about my half marathon training and eventual marathon dreams. So off the bookshelf, Murakami's book came. I had no idea he ran the same routes I do. Right out of the gate, I was hooked:

"It doesn't matter what field you're talking about -- beating somebody else just doesn't do it for me. I'm much more interested in whether I reach the goals that I set for myself, so in this sense long-distance running is the perfect fit for a mindset like mine. ...In long-distance running the only opponenet you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be."

As I've mentioned before, I'm slow. Really slow. On a good day, I can run between a 10:30 and 11 minute mile. On a regular day, that's more like 11:30/12 minutes. I'm not going to win any races, and most of the time, I'm near the back of the pack. I've had to deal with snide remarks by "real" runners who think that us slowpokes should stay out of the way, but it doesn't matter. I have my own goals, and most of the time, I am able to meet them. I follow my training plans and I feel good. I KNOW that I will finish this half marathon, and I know that I will run a marathon someday.

I was out running on Friday and I wiped out good. I felt my sneaker hit the lip of the sidewalk, and I knew I was going to tumble. In slow motion, I saw this sweaty Gatorade bottle I was holding go hurtling in the air, and I heard myself yell before I hit the ground. My initial reaction was fear that I had broken something, only fueled by a bunch of people who got out of their cars and came over to make sure that I was okay. I rolled over and checked my knees and palms (both bleeding) and let out this stream of "motherfuckerjesusgoddamitshitfucker." Next reaction was pure RAGE. Falling was NOT in my plan, and I knew it was going to screw with my time. I killed the last mile, but was still irritated. And three days later, am still sore AND irritated.

Murakami relates this to writing this way:

"In the novelist's profession, as far as I'm concerned, there's no such thing as winning or losing. . . . What's crucial is whether your writing attains the standards you've set for yourself. Failure to reach that bar is not something you can easily explain away. When it comes to other people, you can always come up with a reasonable explanation, but you can't fool yourself."

Ouch. So here's where it gets difficult. I'm not sure I've set any standards for myself. I said that I was going to be a writer when I was 10, and that's the only thing I really ever wanted/want to be. But I'm not even sure what that means anymore. Because that was my only goal, I never really developed any other career plans and just fell into what I'm doing. It's okay, but I always feel like I am displaced and the only reason I do well is because I'm competitive, not because I really want to excel.

I have to figure out what success writing is going to mean for me. I don't think I'm going to be "discovered." 1. Because that rarely happens. And 2. Because one would need to be writing fairly regularly or writing SOMETHING for that something to be discovered. When I'm not taking classes, my writing is very disjointed and without purpose. I would present this entry as Exhibit A. I have the time to write now on Fridays and just like I came up with a training plan for the half and future marathons, there needs to be some sort of defined goal for me to work toward. My writing teachers have all said I should pursue this, and even the random creativity workshop that I took at work ended with an awkward heart-to-heart with the hippie teachers who also noted that I "have something and should pursue it." Not about you, about me, blah blah blah.

"If you're going to while away the years, it's far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive than in a fog, and I believe running helps you do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that's the essence of running, and a metaphor for life -- and for me, for writing as well."

Amen? Let's see where I can take this.

I like running because all I need to do is concentrate on running. Nothing else. One foot in front of the other. I had described that feeling to a friend from church and described myself as being in love with the blankness of my mind while running. I thought I had come up with a particularly brilliant observation, a way to get away from my near-constant inner monlogue, but Murakami uses the adjective "blank" throughout his book. I guess everyone feels this way. I listen to music most of the time, but I don't really hear it. I just concentrate on moving, and (most of the time), not falling.

"Maybe it's some pointless act...but at least the effort you put into it remains. Whether it's good for anything or not, cool or totally uncool, in the final analysis what's most important is what you can't see but can feel in your heart. To be able to grasp something of value, something you have to perform seemingly ineffecient acts. But activities that appear fruitless don't necessarily end up so."

I guess we'll see.

No Repeats

Week two.

This Week in Running -- Photo Edition

Injury at Mile 11

First 5K of the Season -- Mom's Run


34:35 Finish -- Not terrible considering I was still recovering from the 12 mile two days earlier and have a gross, bruised knee.