Calling All Good Vibes

May 29, 2010

If anyone reads this between now and 7:51ish in the morning, I could use some extra good vibes for a pre-church 18-miler in the morning. I don't know why, but I've never been so nervous for a long run in my life. Maybe it's the hills, I'm really not sure. But any way you slice it, I need your mojo. I know it worked last time.


Seriously, thanks.

A Race Report

May 28, 2010

What's that? You hate running? You'd rather swoosh your head around in a freshly pooped port-o-potty than listen to another word about the most boring sport on earth? Well don't sweat it too hard--this was an extra short race, a mile to be exact, so you'll get an extra short race report.

Ladies and gentlemen, I haven't raced a mile since high school and that was, what, three (or maybe twelve) years ago now? Make no mistake about it, it's been a busy twelve years, and between two kids, one husband, a c-section scar, and hundreds of millions of candy bars, these legs don't turn over quite like they used to.

When I signed up for this race, I really had no idea what to expect from myself. I filled out the race application, and in the Estimated Finish Time slot, I shakily wrote 6:30.

When I walked over to the starting line, there were two distinct groups of people: high schools kids and douche bags. The high school kids were obviously there because their track coach told them to be. And the douche bags? Well? As far as I could tell, they were there to prove that their balls hadn't disintegrated to dust at their bachelor parties.

When I nudged myself into the starting corral, the douche bags piped up without a second of hesitation. They were all, "Ohhhh, woops! I forgot to wear my marathon shirt!" and "I actually ran twenty-five miles to get here today."

As for me, I was just standing there thinking, "What the @#$% is your problem?!"

Then I glanced down at my chest and realized, not only did I have fabulous looking boobs, but I was also wearing my finisher's shirt from the White Rock Marathon. Perhaps I was looking a little douche baggish myself.

I turned to my fellow douche bags and said, "Oh geeze, don't let this shirt fool you. I bought it at the Goodwill for a dollar. I don't even know how far a marathon is!" Then without thinking I added, "And I'm wicked hung over."

They liked that. They snickered, made a couple jokes about penises (or something), and when they were too busy to hear me I was like, "I'm gonna hand you your ass on a shiskabob stick."

When the gun went off, I felt like I was tripping all over myself. I hadn't run that kind of a pace in a long, long time and I was getting absolutely smoked by most of the field--douche bags and all. When I got to the quarter mile mark the clock read 1:24--that's a 5:36 mile pace. I glanced around and noticed two things: lots of gasping for air, and lots of people with side stitches.

I dialed back my pace and kept on trucking. I hit 2:52 at the half mile and 4:28 at three-quarters. I was getting progressively slower as the race went on, but I was still upright, and most of the field was behind me, so I just hung on and went for it.

When I rounded the last corner, I saw Maggie's bright blue stroller and I could hear James screaming "Mom! You're not winning!!! You're not winning!!!"

Thank you, James.

I could just make out the clock, and the first digit was clearly a 5, not a 6. Remember, I might have written 6:30 as my estimated finishing time, but deep down I was dying to run a 5:59--so I turned it up a notch and I went for it.

Now I'm not exaggerating here, I could feel almost every single part of my body jiggling for mercy. My butt was was jiggling so hard and so fast, I honestly thought I might lose it right there on Main Street. And my gut fat? Let's just say that my gut flab was slapping me around like an angry Southern MeeMaw.

But guess what? I finished that mile in 5:58.

The douche bags? 8:30. And you can bet your ass I waited around to cheer 'em all on.

Skinny Jeans and Blessing Ways

May 25, 2010

I'd have to say that the best part of living in Maine is having a whole boatload of off-beat friends. I had a handful in Dallas, but for the most part, my Dallasites could fit comfortably into the I Shop Exclusively at Whole Foods and Carry an $800 Purse box. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that, I'm just saying...

But here in Maine my friends run the gamut, and let me tell you, these girls make Whole Foods look just about as crunchy as Best Buy.

There's Anna, who owns and operates an organic farm--she knit the sweater Maggie wore for her baby blessing in approximately four minutes. The last time I saw Anna, she was all torn up because Oboe the goat was ramming her in the ass with his horns every time she bent over to tend her herb crops. Three days later, Oboe was loaded up into the back of her Volvo wagon for a very special field trip--if you know what I mean. He's since been donated to the food bank.

Dead. Serious.

As for me? Well? I make my own yogurt.

Impressed? No? Fine.

Then there's Monika. Instead of money, the woman basically barters eggs and beeswax for everything she could ever dream of owning. I have a couple of friends who nursed their children past the age of three, I have another set of friends who run a hard cider business out of their basement (and grow the apples in their very own orchard...and have a tractor), there's the friend that has a chicken and beef home delivery service, there's the full-time soap maker and of course, there's Jenn.

Jenn is just, well, Jenn.

She has reddish curly hair, she lives in a circa-1800 farmhouse, and this girl is a true-to-life ass kicker.

Two weeks ago, Jenn pulled into my driveway in her mother's Cadillac (which was an unbelievably ironic sight to behold) and hand delivered an invitation to her Blessing Way.

I was like, "What's this?"

And she was all, "An invitation to my Blessing Way."

I nodded, and pretended to know exactly what in the freaking hell she was talking about. If she had said something like, "It's an iPhone app that tells dirty jokes in a Canadian accent," or "It's a coupon for red, white, and blue Oreos," I would have been right on board. But it wasn't either of those things. It was an invitation to a Blessing Way.


Now I should back up and mention that Jenn's approximately nine-and-a-half months pregnant right now. So I opened the invitation and read something to the affect of:

Please come bless the way for the birth of Jenn's baby.
In lieu of baby gifts, please bring the following items:
One or two beads made of natural materials that remind you of Jenn.
Fresh flowers for a head wreath.
A positive saying or affirmation that will be incorporated into birth art.
An item for a post-partum nurture basket.
Cash for henna tattooing.

I let it all sink in and I was like, "Girl? Don't you want some Pampers?"

But she didn't. So I stole some flowers from my neighbor's bush, I found a bead in the shape of fish (and one that looked just like a uterus), I put some soap samples in a little burlap bag, and I was all amped up for the Blessing Way.

Oh, and before I forget...I recently bought some skinny jeans from the clearance rack at Target. Yes, they make my butt look ginormous, yes, I require help to get them on and off, and yes, they're 170% spandex--but they were $6.97 and make me feel thirteen again, so I couldn't say no.

I won't mince words here--I adore the skinny jeans. They're obnoxious and inappropriate, but just like the show It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, I can't help myself--I keep going back. Jared on the other hand? Jared absolutely, 100% detests the skinny jeans. He firmly believes I should wear them with a t-shirt that says, "I'm Gonna Get a Raging Yeast Infection!"

But Jared wasn't invited to the Blessing Way, now was he? So guess what I wore? It was all girls, who were more than in touch with their lady parts. So what if they could make out every detail of my vajango through the spandex? These ladies love vaginas!

So I did it, I rocked the skinny jeans. And my ballet flats--obviously.

I arrived at the Blessing Way about thirty minutes late, and when I walked into the living room everyone was already seated in a circle, sharing the details of their maternal heritage and their birth stories--positive things only. Bare feet, natural fibers, and broomstick skirts were a'flowing. Skinny jeans? They were not.

I tiptoed across the room and did my best to assume an om-like cross-legged position on the floor.

Yeah, no dice.

I was able to cross my feet at the ankles, bend my knees approximately 72 degrees, and quickly come to grips with the fact that skinny jeans and yoga poses have absolutely nothing in common. Not a thing.

At that point, my options were as follows:

Call me crazy, but none of these options were particularly compelling. So I stood, and I smiled, and I simultaneously called upon The Universe, Mother Nature, and Jesus to manifest a chair for me and my skinny jeans.

And that very moment, like a Super Hero in upcycled clothing, Jenn's husband appeared with an office chair and a smile.

The rest of the night was completely fantastic. It was filled with singing, Tibetan prayer flag making, food, henna tattooing, and finally, the hostess tied us all together with a red bamboo string--of course. Obviously, there wasn't a Pamper in sight.

I love it here in Maine, and I sincerely hope I'm invited to a million-and-a-half more Blessing Ways before I die. Now don't get me wrong, I wouldn't be caught dead in a broomstick skirt, but I can chant with the best of 'em.

Refuge from the Storm

May 20, 2010

It's been one of those weeks where Jared steps in the door from work and we're like, "Hey, we're both home! Quick, let's find something to fight about!"

For some reason, Jared seems a little extra sensitive these days, and for some other reason I feel the compelling need to immitate everything he says in a wretched, high-pitched voice.

We're having so much fun over here!

Thanks to SNL's version of The Lawrence Welk show, we did manage to crack a few smiles last night. Then, as soon as the clips were over, we promptly resumed action with our bad attitudes.

Pants are Overrated

May 17, 2010

First things first--thanks for the running vibes on Saturday. I'm happy to say that I ran 16.33 at a 9:15 pace. I'm way good with that.

Second thing. Do you remember, back in the day when this blog was The Lawsons do Dallas! instead of The Lawsons did Dallas!? Maybe not.

Anyhoo, way back then, the tag line under the title was something to the effect of "Pants are Overrated." It had to do with the fact that I was a very lazy mother and never put pants on my two-year-old James.

Welp, I might have to revive that tag line. Get a load of this:

My dog is old. Ten years old to be exact. And my ten year old dog? Let's just say she has intestinal issues.

Once or twice a week she'll wake us with her harried pacing in the middle of the night. Some dogs whimper, my dog walks around like a stressed out college professor. When you hear her toenails clicking on the laminate floor in the den it means she has to go. Immediately.

On Saturday night, I heard the infamous clicking and without hesitation I popped out of bed, grabbed my coat, leashed up the greyhound, and took her out to do her explosion. She pooped in the woods and instead of heading back toward home, she kept muscling forward. She obviously had some more business to tend to.

I followed her down the street, sleepily tripping over the toes of my husband's slippers, saying things like, "What time is it Grashie? I's so tired..."

When we got all the way to the end of the cul-de-sac, Gracie paused to poop and I stood in the moonlight, trying to make out the fuzzy numbers on my digital watch.


Gracie finished her job and promptly took to tangling my wobbly legs in her extra-long leash. I bent down to free my legs from the impending knot, and that's when it hit me...

I wasn't wearing any pants.

Yes, I was definitely wearing my winter coat. But pants? Not so much.

What can I say? It was the most refreshing walk I've had in ages.

I've Got Really Big Pockets

May 15, 2010

Could ya spare some good vibes today?

I need a few, not for anything earth shattering, just for my long run. I'm shooting for 16.5, and for some reason I've built a huge mental wall at 16 miles.

I downloaded The Help on the old iPod, so that should help. So should the nice weather. And the candy in my pocket. And the positive self talk. And the complimentary chiropractic adjustment from the man I sleep with. And the wide variety of caffeinated athletic supplements I bought at Target last night.

The only thing that's missing is a boatload of good vibes from a bunch of people I've never met.

Good. Ness. When did I become so high maintenance?

I guess that doesn't really matter. You know what does? The fact that I'm about to make 16.5 miles my byotch.

I'll let you know how it goes.

The Favorite Child

May 12, 2010

Last night, against my will, James had a t-ball game. Please note: I have absolutely nothing against the fine sport of t-ball. But on a school night? That's when I go from happy, happy mom to bitter, tortured fan. (how's that for unnecessarily dramatic?)

You see, weeknights are absolutely insane around this house. Jared usually doesn't roll into the garage until 7 o'clockish, and by that point, I'm already sitting in my car, engine on, waiting for the obligatory thumbs up so I can screech over to my 7 o'clock meeting by 7:03. Honestly, this happens at least twice a week.

As we're switching spots in the driveway, we like to scream compliments at each other. Jared'll be like, "Good luck at your meeting, love! Your boobs look great in the shirt!"And I'm all, "The kids already ate dinner, babe! Great job buying me these new shoes this afternoon!"

Family Home Evening is even more impressive right now. I'll start the lesson by saying something like, "Tonight, I want to tell you that Jesus..." And that's the moment my husband flies in the door from his commute and jumps in with, "...loves you a lot." And before he gets to the "Amen" I'm halfway to town hall.

That's my extremely long and drawn out way of letting you know that our weeknights are straight-up hectic right now. There's no way I'd sign James up for any activities that happen during the week--but you know, when it pours on Saturday morning, t-ball happens on Tuesday nights. Whatchagonnado?

We pulled up to the field, right in the nick of time, and Jared ushered James over the bench while I took Maggie out of her car seat. It was a beautiful night, and honest-to-goodness I was thrilled to watch James do the robot instead of playing second base. It's the getting there that stresses me out.

Once we were all settled in, the game was a riot. Kids were running in the wrong direction, taking off their shoes pooping in the pants--I love t-ball. Then, just as I was cheering for James while he was taking his fifth swing up at bat, a little girl weaved toward me like a miniature drunk sailor, and crashed into my legs.

She was blond, she was shy, and she was holding onto a pair of very thick, very broken glasses. The poor thing couldn't see past the end of her nose.

I squatted down to her eye level and said, "Aw, your glasses are broken. Do you need help finding your Mom?"

She replied with, "Yeah, I need help. My mom's the one wearing sunglasses."

I did a quick scan of the field and determined that there were at least forty-two moms wearing sunglasses. No problem.

"Okay," I said, "there are lots of moms wearing sunglasses tonight. Can you tell me anything else about your mom?"

She hesitated for a minute, hemmed, hawed, and as we walked across the field she finally said, "She's a little bit plumpy. That means a little bit fat." Then she stopped walking, looked me bang in the eye and said, "But we really can't tell her that."

I was bummed out when we found her mother--I really wanted to keep her.

Step Away from the Average

May 11, 2010
(a continuation of the 'Why I Run' series)

Sometimes, especially when I'm feeling hormonal, I spend hours on the internet, snooping in on other peoples' lives, wishing I was there instead of here.

What would it be like if I had a barn with cows and goats and sheep giving birth to lambs? What if Jared had set up practice in New York City instead of small-town Maine? What if I worked as an artist? What if I had a good reason to wear old, dirty overalls? What if we had an antique house? What if we had no TV? What if I home schooled on a boat? What if I had a gigantic face tattoo? What if I were somebody else?

Well, the truth is, I can't be anyone else. Good, bad, or in between, I'm just me--and if all goes according to plan (and my meds do what they're supposed to do), I'll never get that face tattoo.

The truth is, I live on a nice little street in Maine. I went to college at a state university. I have two kids, a husband, a dog, and a part-time job. I got a KitchenAid mixer as a wedding gift, I regularly sneak things on my MasterCard, and I have a moderate-to-severe Facebook addiction.

Seriously, who doesn't?

My yard has way too many weeds, my dog has way too much gas, and I just finished off the half-gallon of Overloaded Chocolate Caramel Tango before 10:30 in the morning.

Love it or hate it, this life of mine is all very average. And you know what? Average is fine. It's safe, it's predictable, it's comfortable, and I can guarendamntee that you won't stand out in a crowd.

In my late teens and early twenties, the notion of an average life seemed worse than the idea of a ten year sentence in maximum security prison--at least prison would give me a few good party stories. But as I've gotten older, and now that I'm almost thirty, I've come to realize that average suits me just fine.

Well, kind of.

As long as I maintain a ratio of 85% average and 15% butt-ass-crazy, my happy level stays right were it should be.

I won't bore you with the eighty-five--let's jump straight to the remaining fifteen.

Did you know that seven out of ten Americans don't do any form of regular exercise whatsoever? That's right, 70%! I've used that statistic to develop the following diagram:

RUN -- WHAT?!?!

As you can see, speed doesn't play any factor in the equation. If you run, at all, you're breaking away from the norm--and that feels great.

If I had to provide a conservative estimate, I'd say that long distance running fills 10% of my butt-ass-crazy portion. The remaining 5%? Well that comes in the form of notes and emails to James's teachers:

Dear Ms. Kathy,
James won't be in school today. Personally, I think he's faking. But last time I thought he was faking he threw up all over an old lady's back at church. Didn't want to take that risk.

Dear Miss Nancy,
Thanks for letting me know that James will be observed by the social skills specialist on the 19th. I'll be sure to comb his hair that day.

Dear Principal Lidd,
I understand why James was sent to your office on Tuesday, but I'd like to point out that he wasn't telling a lie. James was in fact uninvited back to violin lessons after he poked his teacher in the schnuts with his bow. I know it wasn't the best choice on James's part, but the teacher wouldn't stop calling him Jimmy. I almost poked him in the gnads myself.
~Amy Lawson

Average is good, but running makes it better. And the notes? Well, the notes make it fun.

The Sport of Selfishness

May 5, 2010

You know what I hate about running?


Okay fine, that's a total and complete exaggeration, but sometimes I honestly have to stop and think about why I keep crawling back to this particular past time. Believe it or not, I'm now in my sixteenth (eighteenth if you count those sporadic 7th and 8th grade morning runs with my friend, Michelle) year of my love/hate relationship with this sport.

And yes, I'm getting old. I'm reminded of my age every day at noon, when the 92.9 retro-lunch hour comes on and I get super confused, thinking I'm listening to my all-time favorite mix tape. I'm like, "Boyz II Men! Their harmony is so killer, I'm gonna rewind that part and listen to it again! I hope I don't rewind it too far! Oh wait..."

Yeah, I also sent my husband to the pharmacy to fetch some hemorrhoid cream last night--you know, so the low-fat high-fiber casserole wouldn't burn while I was gone.

Old. I know. Shut up.

A few days ago two magazines came in the mail: Runner's World and Trout Lovers United...or something to that effect. The headline on Jared's magazine said something like, The Top Ten Most Beautiful Places to Fish this Summer. And my magazine? It was all, Ten Tips for Learning to Tolerate Tempo Runs. In other words, How to Hate your Hobby a Little Bit Less.

I held one magazine in my left hand, and the other in the right. I looked back and forth, from one to the other, and thought, "Why? Why, why, why am I still running?" And today, as I'm sitting here at my desk, trying to figure out how I can finagle enough daylight to run six reps on a super steep half-mile hill, in the rain, my "Why?" has morphed into, "Seriously. What the #$%^ is my problem?"

For the next few days, I plan to use this blog to do a little bit of self examination and gain some clarity about the hobby I love to hate and hate to love, the one I just can't quit.

The Sport of Selfishness

Last weekend, I grouped together with four complete strangers and ran a 200-mile overnight relay from Quincy, MA to Provincetown. The entire experience, from the miles to the middle-of-the-night running to the together-time in a mini-van with people I barely knew, was insane. But the crowning jewel of craziness? That would be my teammate Randy, who was slated to run 32 miles total. He's a smoker, he showed up in a wife beater tank top, and I crap you not, this guy had chewing tobacco shoved into his cheek while he ran. Oh wait--I guess I should also mention that he hadn't run a step since January.

Now to be fair, I'm leaving out a pretty important detail here. Randy is with the Special Forces in the military. He's an Army Ranger, a Green Beret, spent three years in Afghanistan voluntarily--pretty much as hardcore as they come.

Our middle-of-the-night conversations went something like this:

ME: Hey, so is it true that when you're a Green Beret you stick each others' heads in buckets of bleach just for fun?

RANDY: No. That would probably make you blind.

ME: Oh. Well I just heard that somewhere. But it is true that you have to stab yourself in the thigh with a dirty knife to graduate Ranger school, right? I mean that's gotta be the case.

RANDY: Uh, no. Not true.

ME: Well that's too bad. I think I'd feel safer if you guys were required to do that.

RANDY: I've jumped out of 4,000 planes and my head was grazed by a rocketing grenade a couple of times.

ME: Okay...I'm starting to understand.

RANDY: I throw my kids out of moving airplanes on their 18th birthdays to welcome them into adulthood.

ME: Dude, my mom bought me a cake and a sweater when I turned 18. You really are hardcore.

And so on and so forth.

We stopped at a lot of gas stations and 7-11s along the way, and every time we'd stop, we'd get the same question: What kind of race are you guys running?

We'd talk about the relay, the person would think for a minute and then, without fail, they'd all ask the very same thing: Is it for charity?

The truth is, no, it wasn't for The Jimmy Fund or The Human Society--it was just a race.

My friend Kristine was running because she's always up for a new challenge, and running makes her happy. Trevor was running because he's insane and he's trying to build up his running resume so he'll be accepted to Badwater. Linda was running because she's damn good at it and she loves to stay in shape. Randy was running because he feels like too many people live in the past--they talk about the glory days and what they used to be able to do.

And me? Well? I was running because....honestly? I'm worth it.

Right now, in my world, running's not about other people. At this point in my life it's not about raising money for worthy causes or increasing awareness about diseases. It's not about my husband or my kids. As uncomfortable as I feel when I type these words, it's all about me.

I like to have a slender body and a strong heart.

I like to spend money on my shoes.

I like to have an hour to myself almost every day.

I like to spend that hour deciding where I'll go without any input from anyone else.

I like to listen to podcasts instead of James's Michael Jackson songs over and over and over.

I like to feel my pigtails slapping against my neck.

I like to be able to eat dessert every day and not stress about my weight.

I like to fit into my pre-marriage jeans.

I like to feel success.

I like to get trophies and medals.

I like to have weekend plans that center around me, instead of just my husband and my kids.

I like to take care of myself, and you know what? Just by virtue of being human, I'm totally and completely worth it.

And guess what! So. Are. You. Now get out there and run!

Just kidding, running sucks, you should take a pottery class.