Monthly Archives: October 2011

The Plan

So, tomorrow, well midnight tonight, starts nanowrimo down here in this corner of the world. Just about 12 hours from now and the month of tap tap tapping on my keyboard commences.

So what am I doing on this day of freedom before the literary slave drive in my mind kicks into overgear and I can’t stop the creativity from flowing out even though I want to?

I’ll probably be spending as little time on my computer as possible. Saving up the wrists and things.

I’ll be lamenting the fact that I can’t order tea from the englishteastore.com and so be unable to enjoy that which has become my noveling obsession. Their “Buckingham Palace Garden Party” tea blend. Oh what an addictive tea. Earl Grey and Jasmine. I have not quite found anything close to it down here, and that is saddening for me. But I shall endeavor to move forward without the elixir of creativity!

I won’t be doing anything for Halloween, as I just won’t. And for the first time, I won’t be starting to write exactly at midnight. I’ve gotten too old to stay up that late. So my day tomorrow will start with a healthy breakfast of Cheerios (if E leaves me any), a big mug of Twining’s New Zealand Breakfast Tea (very tasty!), and my keyboard. And a blank piece of electronic paper.

And from that magic brew, I shall create another piece of the puzzle that is Ahlterra, and one day use these pieces to form and create a world and a story that will captivate the minds and hearts of millions of fans!

Or, just get it out of my head finally.

To those of you having Halloween, Have fun! Enjoy! And to Those of us getting ready to write….

Heads down, fingers moving, we can do this.

Backing Black

I have never been more determined to become a part of this country and its culture than I was on Sunday night.

 

First off, let me say that my time in Queenstown was massively awesome and there will be a further post on that, and the whole experience to come later.  But for now, I have to talk about Sunday night.

 

For those of you that don’t live in the world of sports, or actually in New Zealand or any of the other ‘major’ team countries, this year was the Rugby World Cup.  And it is a huge huge huge thing down here.  I don’t think I could even come up with a comparison that would make sense in the US levels of huge.  Possibly Huge like ice hockey is huge in Michigan.  Or high school football in Texas.  But even that can’t quite cover the obsessiveness that has come about over Rugby down here.

 

Now, I am not an expert, or even a beginner expert.  I know that there are different levels of play, different leagues, and I know that there are ways to divide the country (like canterbury versus auckland or something), but I’m still learning the ropes.  I can very well, and probably will, say something completely wrong about this but I’m giving my observations and opinions on a short window of exposure.  So, bear with me.

 

The Overall attitude down here during this World Cup has been astounding.  Teams from around the world came here (including the USA! Go Eagles!) to play in pool challenges.  And then after the Pool stages were over (the US didn’t get past the Pools, but we did beat Russia!), we got into the really exciting games.  The semis and the quarters and the final.

 

And let me tell you, as the weeks got closer and closer to the end of the Pools and the start of the actual ‘tournament’ part of it, this country got more and more united.  Black signs everywhere.  People with those flags flying from their cars with the NZ flag and the All Blacks flag, and pretty much everything else all became about the Rugby.  Everybody was ‘Backing Black’ in some way or another and the energy in this country was astounding.  There really is no way to explain an entire country coming together behind one team.

 

And no, the Olympis don’t really count.  Well, Maybe for the Dream Team.  I would say that it was close to the 1980 US Hockey team, but they were the underdogs.  The All Blacks are definitely not the underdogs.  They are supposed to be the best rugby (of this league) team in the world.  So, yeah, let’s go with Dream Team for US Basketball as an analogy.  But even that analogy doesn’t quite work.  The Dream Team had national backing, but only if you cared about basketball, and only if you cared about the Olympics.  And frankly, not enough of the US does either of those at all.

 

No, this is close to the Dream Team but amplified on a scale well past it.  Well past it.  The Semi-final game against Australia was billed as “The Final” because there was no way that France should have beaten Wales.  They had played so sloppily all tournament, there was no way that they could be a match for the mighty mighty All Blacks.   But France did beat Wales, and the ABs got past the Wallabies, and here you have it, The Final.

 

New Zealand vs France

 

Now, there are some rather epic backstories to this rivalry, and I can’t even begin to explain them all.  I’m sure that somebody else is more than happy to fill them in, but the relations between France and NZ have been strained at times in the past.  There was a Rugby match sometime back in the 90s that NZ was expected to win handily, but the French came out victorious.  Then there’s the Rainbow Warrior incident, and I’m fairly sure that there was another incident that was explained to me this weekend, but in all of the excitement, some of it has gotten lost in memory of wine and lack of sleep.

 

Suffice to say, emotions were running high for this match.  It’s a holiday weekend down here, with monday being a national holiday and pretty much everybody in the country having the day off.  So the Final was on Sunday night, and we were on holiday with some friends down in Queenstown.  One of our friends is a huge rugby fan and was insisting that we go to the pub to watch the game. Any pub.

 

At first, I resisted, but my god am I glad that I didn’t.

 

A bit more background, this a bit more personal.  I don’t usually like pubs. Or loud places. Or places with people drinking.  Or loud places with people drinking.  So being in a pub for a sporting event that was going to be loud and rowdy at first did not seem appealing to me in the slightest.  But, I want to know what it is to be a Kiwi, to really be somebody from New Zealand.  And part of that is going to be being around the loud, the drinking, and the rugby.  So what the hell.

 

I will tell you, I have never seen or been a part of something more epic, inspiring, and breathtaking than being in that pub watching the game.  We got their early, got a table, and had dinner (which was cheap bar food and not particularly good), and then sat and waited.  And waited.  And the pub slowly started to fill up around us.  And then, at around 830 or 845, suddenly, the pub around us was packed.  The French anthem was sung and people politely sang along (I think there were a few French supporters in the pub, but they were downstairs).  And then the NZ Anthem came on.  Everybody that I could see stood up and sang along.  And I don’t mean the polite singing along that we Americans do at a baseball game.  Or the way that we use the national anthem on TV as a means of having just three more minutes to get the gang settled and the food passed out. Everybody sang along to their national anthem (in both maori and english! with sign translation too!) in as full throated and fullbodied manner as they could.  The room was buzzing, the excitement was so palpable you could feel it against your skin like an electric current.  Everybody at back down (or remained standing if you didn’t have a seat) and got ready for the next big thing. The Haka.

 

One more pause here.  The Haka, or rather more properly it should be stated as being ‘a haka’, is a war dance done by native tribes around the southern pacific islands as a means of intimidation.  The All Blacks are not the only teams to perform a Haka, in fact most of the island national teams down here (Tonga, Samoa, Fiji) also perform their own.  But when we’re talking Rugby, and the All Blacks, then I believe it is appropriate to use the full on capitalized “The Haka”, because nearly everybody down here will know what you mean.

 

Now, the bar is full, lets say about 200-300 people, all buzzing and bubbling with Excitement.  The All Blacks line up for the Haka.  The French line up across the field from them in a flying V pattern (Yay Mighty Ducks!), and Piri Weepu starts the chant.  The entire bar goes silent.  The kind of anticipatory silence that crawls up your neck and settles at the base of your skull.  Speculation over which Haka (the ABs have several that they do, but there was strong anticipation for two of them, one being Kamate, and the other being Kapa O Pango) flittered around the room as the Haka leader, Piri Weepu, began the chant.  And the All Blacks performed Kapa O Pango (my favorite of the two).  The first lines were met with cheers in the pub, and then the French flying V flew up and formed in a line directly across from the All Blacks, accepting the challenge.  And the Pub went crazy.

 

The game was intense, seriously intense.  It was not one of the better played games, but it was still heart-wrenching.  There were a few missed kicks from both teams, and then a playbook perfect try (score) from the ABs and then halftime.  After halftime, the French scored and the game was at 8-7 New Zealand.  And that was where the game would stay.  For the next 40 minutes until the end of the game.

 

Intense.  The last two minutes of play amounted to essentially the AB’s wasting the clock, taking a knee, running out the clock as best they could and holding onto the ball for dear life.  Everybody in the pub is screaming, pounding on tables, clapping and shouting at the screen.  Rugby plays 80 minute games.  If there was a stop in play for any reason (like decapitation being a reason to stop play) then however long the stoppage was, was added onto the end of the game.  There was a total of almost 2 minutes of stopped play, so everybody was watching the play clock, watching it count up to 82 minutes.  Holding their breaths while shouting at the same time, and then the collective inhale at 82 minutes, the Referee blowing his whistle to signal the end of the game, and then the cheering. The screaming, the jumping around and hugging people who only an hour before you didn’t know and are pretty sure spilled their beer on you as they walked past.  There was shouting and screaming and absolute insanity.

 

There were tears and screams of joy.  And I’ll admit that I teared up a bit.  It was seriously the most intense thing, the most outstanding thing.  It will be a night that I will probably hold in my memory for as long as I can. Friends, atmosphere, and an entire country taking in a sigh of relief and then letting it out in one huge long exultant scream.  I had never experienced a live sporting event in a pub before, and I strongly doubt that I will ever experience another one quite like this ever again.

 

Last night was one of those moments that completely solidified something in my mind that I already knew.  I want to be a Kiwi.  I want to know this culture, live this culture, embrace this country and it’s people, and just be a part of it all.  I love this country, I love these people.  And I love the All Blacks!

Canon in D

Nearly every little girl that I know, or have known, has had some idea or fantasy about their wedding.  And most have got it planned out long before they even meet the man that they want to marry.

 

Lord knows that I did.  At least twenty times.

 

I can’t even begin to think about how many times my mother bought me bridal magazines so that I could look through the pictures and gaze lovingly and longingly at the dresses, and the cakes, and the rings.  I watched hours upon hours of the shows on TLC about women and their weddings.  And weddings on a budget.  Somewhere at the house in the states my mom has a folder of ideas that I started saving for my wedding.  Lord knows how many years ago.

 

And for the most part, my dream wedding didn’t change from about the age of 18 until around about… now.  It would be a small family and friends gathering, and the colors (as everybody who plans a wedding knows, having the right colors is important) were going to be white, dark blue, dark green, and silver.  But mostly white.  Everything white. White on white on white with accents of blue and green and silver.   My dress was going to be white and silver, my flowers were going to be mostly white with little blue flowers or gems here and there and a cascade of ivy over my arms and hands.  My bridesmaid were going to be in white with blue satin sashes, and my husband was going to be in a kilt. Yes a kilt.  I am attached to my family’s scottish heritage.

 

The dream reception is in a room covered in white fabric, the tables are covered in white linen, and everywhere there are white trees, pure white with silver, blue and green metallic shimmery things in them, and candles everywhere.  The cake would be a white cake, flavored so craftily with vanilla, and an earl grey mousse inside, and covered with a white thick frosting, that is not sweet at all.  The music would be everything I could think of that would make me happy, make people dance and smile, and make my mother cry.  And the last song of the night would be Stairway to Heaven, because that’s just the way it goes.

 

The honeymoon was ideally imagined about being spent in Australia, when that was on the other side of the world. And in my head, all of this could be done for less than two thousand dollars. Well, except for the honeymoon.

 

But now?  What would the dream wedding look like now?  A small gathering of friends, in a park or field or backyard, with a handful of flowers, in a sensible dress that can be worn again in theory.  Dinner would be almost like a potluck, with dessert being tea treats and sweets baked the day before.  And the honeymoon?  Wherever the dream took me.

 

What got me thinking about all this today?  Has something in my life changed? Is there a secret that nobody knows about yet?

 

No.  I just get crazy ideas in my head and have to put them on paper.  Also, one of the songs on the ‘bedtime’ cd that we’ve been listening to at night now (a requirement for me to sleep easily is some form of noise, or pure exhaustion) has the Canon in D on it.  You know that song.  It’s everywhere.  All around you.  In nearly everything romantic or wedding related, you’ve heard that song.

 

I hate that song.

 

If I am planning my wedding and anybody ever wants to suggest help with the music or anything, please rest assured that your help will be greatly appreciated.  So long as you leave that song completely and totally out of any suggestions.

 

So, while reviewing my music that I have in my head, I got stuck on the Canon in D.  And that spurred this post.

 

And now for something completely different, a question for my reader, whoever you may be.

 

Do you/did you have your dream wedding planned long before it was a reality?

The Long Way Around

It seems like my entire life I’ve taken the Long way around.

 

Well ok, let me fix that, my entire adult life I’ve taken the long way around.  I went to University like I was supposed to, but in the end, it took me 10 years almost to finish my degree.  I just had to take the long road that led me through hardship, pain, and misery in order to get to the place that I could finish that degree.  I had to try life out first, to see the world as I wanted it to be, and to find out that it really wasn’t, in order to appreciate just how much I wanted that degree, needed the degree.

 

Even in love, I’ve taken the long route.  I went out with just about every single guy that ever showed interest in me.  From one night flings before homecoming to seven years long.   All of that to just get me to this point in my life, and my mind, where I can accept the love of a man who has nearly everything I’d ever day dreamed about, but never believed I could have.  It took me years, so many many years, to accept not only the love of another person at face value, but also realize that lust is not love, and that I am deserving of love. It took me a long time to get to those lessons, and to accept and understand them, but I did, and I do.

 

And today, another example of me taking the long way around.  I had to head down to the store to pick up some medicine for the house, and to get some soap for our trip this weekend.  Now the walk to the store isn’t very long at all, in fact it’s only about .5km.  So just about a mile.  Up hills and stuff.  But today I decided that I wanted to do a bit more.  So, I took the long way around.  What could have been an easy 1km round trip turned into a 3.25km walk.  With hills and flats and everything in between.  All because I made the conscious decision to take the long way around.  And for once in my life, it was a positive thing!

 

Even my health has been the long way around.  I’m 30, and only just now starting to realize, and care, that there is so much more life ahead of me, I shouldn’t be throwing it away on being fat, having a bad diet, no physical activity, and smoking.  Granted, I quit smoking almost 2 years ago now, but the rest of that stuff, it took me finding love, and hitting 30 to realize that I have so much more to do.  Again, the long way around.

 

Even in my writing!  I have a fantasy world in my head and have had it there for going on six years now, and I start to work on it bit by bit by bit every November, chipping away at just a little bit more of the information, the facade, the details, and never actually getting to the story that I want to tell!  I have to figure out the background first, the characters, and all the details in between before I can even put the story down on paper. Another Long Way Around.

 

But, I am who I am.  And if Slow and Steady is how I need to work in my life in order to achieve the happiness that I’m at, then Slow and Steady is where I will be.  And who I will be.  Because after all this time of wandering the Long Way Around, I’ve found where I’m supposed to be.

Donation Station

Not as much fun as Shining Time Station, but just as important!

Nanowrimo is here! And it’s time for me to start begging for money. I know I know, I don’t usually do this, but The Office of Letters and Light (OLL) is a fantastic organization that has been spending the last lots of years doing good things for writing education across the US.

They sponsor NanoWrimo and Script Frenzy, and they do a Young Writer’s Program that goes into schools across the country, and across the globe, to help get kids interested in language and writing. This is a hugely important cause, being able to communicate your ideas through language is immensely important for people of all ages, and the younger we learn how to do that, the more successful in life we can become.

So please, donate to this cause, sponsor me through this link, and for every $50 that gets donated, I will add another 5k to my total wordgoal.

Make me write for it. Make me work. Help me make this world just that much more colorful with the sound of words.

http://www.stayclassy.org/fundraise?is_new=1&fcid=146401

Bouncing Thoughts

crap crap crap.

 

My sleep has been going back down the tubes again the last few nights.  Even last night, after an exhausting day of cleaning and then going to the gym, you would have thought that I could actually get some sleep.  Nope.

 

My brain just seems to be refusing to shut itself down.  But why? What could I possibly be thinking about that makes it so that I don’t sleep even when I should be exhausted?  Well there really has been a lot going on, some of which is quite daunting and will be the subject of a longer blog post as soon as I figure out how and what to write.

 

The one big thing though, has been Nanowrimo, and the fact that it’s two weeks away and I’m less prepared than ever before.  In fact, I am so much less prepared because I am now doubting what I want to write.  For the last 5 years I have basically used Nano and the month of November as a means to gather background information on my fantasy world, Ahlterra, together out of my brain.  Nano has been 5 years of 50,000 words of research documents for this world.  That’s 250,000 words of research for a world that is still not fully developed in order to tell a story that I haven’t even started to write yet.   So this year was going to be installment 6, a focus on another character, another background, another setting, and more information being pulled from the depths of my imagination in order to complete this bloody research so I can get on with actually crafting the real novel.

 

But then, the other day, in a fit of insanity that I was having about myself, my life, and my future as a worthwhile partner for the most awesome and fantastic man in the world, my handsome and loving partner made a suggestion that I start to write something of a life story.  Just as a thing.  I didn’t think anything of it then, i was too far deep into my period of self-hate and loathing.  But now, I can’t get this idea out of my head.

 

I even have a potentially working title! “Locating the Lightswitch: One Woman’s Journey Past Being Young and Stupid”.

 

that’s almost all that I have on it right now, but it would probably end up being a stylized look back on my life, and just when the ‘young and stupid’ phase started and when it started to end.  With little anecdotes and funny tales, and even trying to make tragedy a laughing matter.

 

I’m not sure how I would do it, what it would end up as, or if I could even get it to work at all.  But, but… it won’t go away!  My head is spinning with this idea.  I lay down last night, exhausted beyond belief and then suddenly, it’s there, bouncing in my head these thoughts and half-drunk ideas wandering in like stray cats and then chasing the cobwebs away.  And then suddenly, I’m awake again, the night is too hot, the blankets suffocating, and not even the relaxing harp music on the cd player, the oscillating fan, or the rain outside was enough to lull me back into a stupid state of slumber.  It’s only the knowing crush of being completely exhausted that finally pushes my head into the pillow and smothers me into sleep.

 

As you can tell, I’m already practicing my ‘creative’ use of the language.  I just don’t know what for yet.  Do I keep doing the research in my head?  Or do I turn out something completely different from anything I’ve ever written and try to turn it into something for real?  I think that until I get this question answered, my nights of sleep are going to be difficult and tenuous. Until I can no longer stay awake and my brain just collapses from exhaustion.

who am I?

I started thinking about this recently, like yesterday, and I realized, I have no idea anymore.

I mean, I thought I knew who I was. But that was before I strapped on my shoes and went for a walk to the store.

Wait what? I walked to the store? Who the hell is this person?

Me, Sarah, would have just jumped into the car and driven to the store. got what she needed, put it in the car and driven back home.

Nope, I walked to the store, got what I needed, tossed it into my reusable shopping bag, and then walked home. And then today, I decided I wanted sushi for lunch. So, I strapped on the shoes, tossed on the coat and walked to the sushi place, and then walked back.

So my question becomes, who am I?

The Me that I knew back in the states would never do this, ‘walking’ thing. And then follow it up by going to the gym. The US Me would never have even thought about maybe attempting rock climbing. The US Me went everywhere in her car, even if it was only a mile away.

The Kiwi Me? Well the Kiwi Me for the first part says ‘only a mile’ as if that’s not a big deal anymore. The Kiwi Me eats chinese cabbage and wasabi. The Kiwi Me is thinking of ways to talk to pretty much everywhere. The Kiwi Me has entered into a 6k walk and is damned sure that she will not only complete it, but she will do so in a good amount of time. The Kiwi Me is excited to go out for nature walks, to see new things that the US Me would have been uncertain about. The Kiwi Me is starting to come around to the idea of rock climbing. And conquering fears. The Kiwi Me likes to drink water! And hasn’t had a can of soda in months!

I’m not sure who this Kiwi Me is, but I Like her. and I think that my Kiwi Me and I are going to get very friendly as time goes on.

Damn Straight.

My Boyfriends Friends

What great people.

 

I mean it.

 

I am so fortunate in life to be not only in this place and in this time, but to be blessed with such beautiful wonderful people around me.

 

They are caring, warm, loving, polite, and respectful.  They are brilliant, insightful, glamorous, and interesting.

 

I could not, in my life, have imagined myself in a better place than I am right now.  happy, loved, and with a slowly growing group of friends that are absolutely fantastic.

 

What brings this on? Simple.  We went on a picnic yesterday with some of Ee’s friends and basically all ended up at the last minute grocery run together, because nobody was really prepared for a picnic.  Cheese and salami and fruits, and bread, and salads.  And without saying anything, or making a statement at all, they picked up smoked salmon and some shaved roast beef because they knew I didn’t eat pork products and they wanted me to have something to eat other than just bread and cheese.

 

We went out for lunch with another friend to dim sum, and she made sure that there were options on the table for me that weren’t pork.

 

I am so very blessed to be surrounded by these people, and so very amazed and even humbled by their overwhelming kindness, generosity, and their acceptance of me.  At a time in my life when I could very much feel so very alone and lost, they have made it possible for me to not be so homesick.

 

My boyfriend’s friends have found a way to make me feel at home, and for that, I can never thank them enough.

 

Love you guys.

5772

I’m a bit late on this, but better late than never. Happy New Year!

 

Now if for some reason you haven’t figured out that I’m jewish yet, this might confuse you.  Probably as much as the random seeming numbers used for this blog title.  Friends of mine who shall remain nameless will probably chide me at first for not making a title of just numbers be 1337.  But you are wrong and silly headed people.  And you know it.

 

No, 5772 is (now) the current year on the Jewish Calendar.  Traditionally the year is counting from Genesis and the first Shabbat.  No, I am not a creationist or anything like that, but I’m trying to explain some things here.

 

The Jewish Calendar is a lunar calendar, much like the arabic and the chinese calendar.  We follow the cycle of the moon because to be honest back when people started measuring time, the moon and her movements and phases was really about the only constant that you could rely on.  The sun never seemed to change, and even when the seasons shifted, it was difficult to really be precise.  At least it was about 3,000 years ago for a bunch of desert nomads.

 

Why is the Jewish/Arabic/Chinese calendars all different lunar calendars?  Well, I to be honest don’t know the answer to that.  Save for the conjecture that they were all counting from different points as the beginning or the ending.

 

This is a blog about my thoughts, think not that you will find any concrete factoids here! If you are really that curious, go look it up!  No, not on wikipedia.  Use a real encyclopedia. You know, the book version.  Some of us, if we’re lucky, actually grew up with some in our houses.  But you can still find them at libraries.  Alright fine, if you’re that desperate to know, go to wikipedia.  Sheesh.

 

But now we’re getting distracted.

 

So yes, it is New Years, or was, and the proper way to celebrate Rosh hashanah (directly translated: Rosh=Head; Ha=The; Shanah=Year. Head of the Year) is with round and sweet things.  A round Challah bread served with honey. Sliced up apples, served with honey. Pretty much anything round, and served with Honey.  Now, with most things in Jewish traditions, there are symbols here. The round challah (and everything else round) symbolizes the year continuing.  Life is an ever moving, ever continuous circle flowing seamlessly from one to the next. Apples, because in the Northern Hemisphere Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of Autumn, just when Apples are ripe and sweet.  And honey, because, well don’t you want a sweet new year?  Honey is nature’s perfect food. Sweet, liquid, and just wonderful.  Why not enjoy it on everything in sight?

 

So what happens after New Years?  Why the Days of Awe.

 

I’m not completely certain on the teachings around these 10 days, but I know what I was taught.  These 10 days are for reflecting on your place in the material world.  Rosh Hashanah is for celebrating that a new year has come, the Days of Awe are for setting yourself in order with regard to everybody around you. Find that person that you screamed at earlier and apologize to them.  Set right all the wrongs that you’ve done in the last year, at least the ones that you remember, and that you can set right, within the next ten days.  Get your material and temporal self straight so that come Yom Kippur, you are cleansed on the outside enough to face God and your inside.

 

Now we come to the big one.  Yom Kippur. Holiest of Holy Days. Highest of Holidays (other than Shabbat, but that’s a completely different discussion).

 

Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement.  This is the day that we jews go to synagogue and pray, while fasting, for forgiveness from God.  We pray for the forgiveness of our own sins, and for the sins of others. We pray for forgiveness of the sins that we have committed against one another, and for the sins that we have committed against God.  There is a prayer that is said during the night before (kol Nidre) that lists all of the sins that we are praying for, and then some the prayer is lovingly referred to as ‘Ashamnu’, as with all poems taking the first line as its title.  You pray in Hebrew, and with each word, tap your right fist against your heart.

 

Yom Kippur is a solemn Holiday, the day for reflecting on yourself and the year that has passed, and looking forward to the year coming forward.  It’s a reset button.  The last year is over, you have repented, you have apologized, you have done your best to take back for the sins that you have done.  It is time to start over again, to try and live your life better this year than you did the last.  Sometimes, in all of the hype and talk about the holiday, that bit gets lost.  A lot of people, and yes i’m guilty of this, talk about Yom Kippur and the fasting, the 24 hours of deprivation.  But it’s also 24 hours of introspection, cleansing, and it can be both solemn and joyous.

 

But I’m getting into some other territory here that is better left for another time.

 

Suffice to say that it is a New Year and I have a new outlook on life. I will be tackling the world as though it is mine already.  Ain’t nothing going to stop me now.

Mrs. Harris

Dear Mrs. Harris,

 

You might not remember me, it was a long time ago that you were my physical education teacher.  A very long time ago.  You pushed me to get those ten sit-ups done, you cajoled me to doing those push-ups, and you rebuked me for failing to even attempt the pull-ups.  You understood when I changed in the bathroom stalls, as opposed to changing in the locker room.  You listened when I cried about being fat and useless.  And you had sympathy for when I fell and sprained my ankle in the wrestling room.  You encouraged me when we played kickball, and showed me the best way to dodge at dodgeball.

 

I hated your guts.

 

I know, that’s not fair. It wasn’t really you so much as it was the subject that you taught.  had you been any other teacher I probably would have sung your praises for how well you managed the fragile egos of the charges given to you in those oh-so turbulent times of middle school. But you taught Physical education.  The most loathed class of any fat kid.  Kickball was a nightmare, always last for the team. Dodgeball was painful, almost literally, I never played baseball and touch football almost always ended badly.  But the more horrifying thing in the world, the terrible, awful, torturous event was the Physical Fitness Test.

 

Now, I don’t really remember if that was the actual name of it.  It was one of those things that I think started with President Kennedy and then continued on through the years.  Every year, every student, had to pass a physical fitness test.  This included everything. Height, Weight, BMI, Jumping jacks, sit ups, push ups, the sit forward and reeeeach for that ruler, pull ups, and the dreaded Mile.

 

Oh, the Mile.  On a dust and dirt covered track around the football field, one lap around was one quarter of a mile. Four laps.  You had to get 4 laps done, and the set time was 15 minutes.  The Mile. That dreaded torture device.  Pullups were easy, I couldn’t do them, I touched the bar and that was it.  I could get out 10 situps if I tried, and 10 pushups too.  I could never reach very far down the ruler, but nobody expected me to.  But the Mile.  The one thing that would get gym teachers from every corner of the school to converge on one spot in order to yell.  You encouragement sounded like jeering, your shouts to keep going brought only feelings of hate.

 

I hated the Mile and I hated you.

 

It wasn’t your fault. you were doing what you had to do. It was part of the national curriculum and that I understand now. But oh, how I hated you.

 

But, what brings this up now? all these years of repressed anger and hatred towards the dreaded Mile?  The one thing that I was never able to beat. Fifteen minutes.  I think the closest I ever got was seventeen minutes.  After which, I collapsed on the grass of the football field and promptly attempted to stop living.  Or at least breathing.  So what brings these memories up? what causes them to come to the forefront today?

 

Well, mrs. Harris are you listening because this is important, I walked a mile today.  I actually walked closer to 1.5 miles, but all the same, I walked a mile today.  And I did it in under fifteen minutes.

 

Did you hear that?  Fourteen minutes and forty-seven seconds!  Me!  Me who couldn’t even think about doing a Mile on that flat dusty track in under 17 minutes. Me who was so out of shape that the thought of more jumping jacks made me want to vomit.  I actually managed to do a 15 minute mile.  Without dying! Without needing an inhaler or a respirator or to have my heart restarted!

 

So, Mrs Harris, from so long in the past to this point in my life right now, I want to say thank you.  Thank you for your understanding. Thank you for your kindness, and your encouragement.  It might have taken me almost twenty years, but I have finally made it past that point!

 

You can mark me off your clipboard now!  I am on my way to physically fit!