Luck Dragon

Yesterday was the first day back at work with all staff on campus and I woke up at 3:00 am and struggled to go back to sleep. I finally did but when I woke up, it was 6:30 am and I wanted to leave by 7:15 am so I didn’t get the opportunity to sit and get focused for the day. I got to work and dropped my stuff off in the classroom and went to the front office.

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When I was student teaching, my mentor teacher gave me the advice to make friends with the office staff because they have the power to make life great or not so great, I chose the former. Yesterday morning, when I went up to the office to check in, the secretary was sitting there and asked me about my horrible summer. Last week when I had the kids with me, we were up on campus and she’d asked how things were and I didn’t want to talk about it in front of the kids so I just gave the “pretty horrible” response. So when she asked me that question yesterday, I was overcome. I started to choke up and told her I’d talk to her about it later. I walked down the hallway back to my classroom with tears in my eyes and, after an “are you ok?” from our LSSP, I made it back to my space. I took a minute to gather myself and then walked back to the front office to talk.

The day was mostly in meetings but we did have a pep rally thing that we needed to have actual pants on for. I drove back to my house to change and hanging out on the porch was a little green lizard. Matt told me what kid it was but I was still in my head and I don’t remember what he said it was. Either way, a little lizard friend made me feel a little bit more like things were settling in. We drove down the street to the high school for the thing and then back to campus for a bit to unpack and then lunch.

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Around 3:15, I drove over to the Fine Arts Annex to pick up a safe for my classroom and met a new theatre teacher in the district and talked to her a bit about working with MS students and how to choose appropriate material etc. It was funny how quickly I slipped back into “professional” mode after being off all summer. I got back to campus and headed home for a run. It was in the high 90’s and probably too hot but I did it anyway. When I got up to Bolivar and McKinney, I saw in the parking lot a burned out pickup truck and a fire truck that had just extinguished the flames. It was surreal. I ran back home and got ready to climb with Natasha and Jack for a bit. There were a couple other teachers Natasha knew and a friend of theirs I’ve met a few times hanging out climbing as well.

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Climbing with much more experienced climbers is really interesting because everything is doable. Confidence and trust in oneself are essential to growing, in life and in climbing, so having some cheerleaders on the ground is enough to break through mental blocks on a route in a lot of cases. I kept going after this yellow route that I’ve been working on for a while and was able to break through some of the places where I’ve been stuck but was still unable to complete it. I’ll have to got back tonight and see if I can nail it on the first go.

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I took some bread by Kayley and Lauren’s place as gratitude for Kayley smudging the new place and had a nice chat with them about life and such. It was nice to be out in someone else’s space for a bit. Lots of neat art deco pieces and plenty of beautiful flowers/plants that Lauren arranges. When I got back to my place, hanging out in the front yard was a black cat. It was sitting there looking back at me and not moving for about five minutes. I’m allergic to cats but have always liked them and this cat just chilling in the yard was calming. I’ve had a lot of anxiety surrounding going back to work, for a few reasons, and yesterday was a challenge but I made it through. Each day after that should, hopefully, be less about the anxiety and more about the work. It’s all about the work.

Crane Wife

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My friend Bess shared this essay and I wanted to leave it here too. You should read it.

I’ve been having a pretty rough week emotionally. My kids have been out of town on vacation to the beach so we haven’t been able to coordinate our usual daily phone calls with grandparents and swimming. I didn’t know what to expect with this sort of arrangement, I don’t think anyone really does, and it’s been a drag on my overall sense of making progress.

I was actually productive today, I got utilities and Wi-Fi lined up for the new place and started reading on the play that we are going to do instead of the play I didn’t have the emotional energy to write this summer. It could be a combination of missing my kids and the concrete steps towards moving into a new phase of life or something in the air but after making those arrangements things went a little sideways. Riding out the turbulence requires an emotional reserve I don’t really have at my fingertips, things like the essay above help me to keep perspective.

I’m going to climb in a bit and then run/volunteer for the social run and be around a bunch of people this evening, something that I am trying to be good about. I’ve been isolating the past couple of days and I know that it isn’t really healthy for me for too long.

Our remounting of Johnson Branch Trail Race is this weekend, I’ll probably be working on that for the next few days and then next week is moving week.

One bag only

Sunday was Laura’s birthday so we all slept in a bit and then Geoff made breakfast. I sat on the porch and read a bit while he went to the store and Laura and I had a chance to talk a bit. Geoff came back and made breakfast; bacon, eggs, hash browns and coffee. 

After we cleaned up from breakfast, we headed out to the Rattlesnake Wilderness Recreation Area and the trailhead was packed. It had been raining off and on for the last week or so, people were ready to be outside. We hiked around 5 miles and dipped our toes in the creek that gives the area its name. They’ve had a lot of snow this year in the mountains and the creek was high and very cold. Geoff kept trying to convince us that swimming was a great idea, no one took him up on it. 

We headed back and I was more than a little sore from the race on Saturday. We ate a little lunch and then read, played some music and napped until later in the evening when Laura’s friends from grad school came over for dinner. Geoff and Laura made a little bit of shade in the back yard with some speaker stands and sheets so we ate outside. Chicken legs, grilled veggies, salad and fruit and some cake to wrap things up. 

After dinner, we headed out on a walk to the Scott Street Bridge. It stretches over a train yard and gave us an incredible view of the sunset. This far north, the sun doesn’t really set until after 10PM so we got back pretty late and watched a movie before turning in. 

Monday, Laura had to work so we walked over to this cute little breakfast place and ate before she headed in to work. Geoff and I headed up north to Flathead Lake and had a light lunch on the lake at The Raven. Geoff had played some gigs there in the past and it had a dock where boats could pull in. 

After we spent some time on the lake, we headed back to Bozeman to work on the sourdough pizza I started in the morning before we left. The afternoon was pretty relaxed, I was still stiff from the race so we didn’t tool around on the bikes or anything.

Dinner was the sourdough pizza and some salad along with leftover cake from Laura’s birthday on Sunday. We hung out at the apartment and took it easy before watching a little Stranger Things and turning in ahead of the early wake up on Tuesday. 

Geoff and I got things going around 5AM for the drive in to Bozeman and we went up over the continental divide on the way through the valley. Things were a little wet but mostly uneventful until we got into Bozeman and had breakfast at Lot G, a modern breakfast place in a small development with a brewery, some offices and a kombucha bar. Drew met us for breakfast as well and then we headed to the airport.

I was really unsure about how this trip was going to go given the current circumstances but I’m glad that I decided to go ahead and come. The race was brutal, the time spent with family was invaluable and while there were certainly some low moments, it was good to be up in the last best place for a bit. 

Bangtail Divide 38k

One of the reasons for the timing of this trip was to run the Bangtail Divide 38k just outside of Bozeman. I’ve run one other race in the Bozeman area, the Jim Bridger 10 Mile with my cousin Bea a couple years ago before the family reunion. That race was stupid hard, for a flatlander, because it had 2800’ of gain in a four mile switchback section that really made those glutes burn. Well, yesterday’s race had 6 miles of switchbacks and 3600’ of gain.

It started out with a mile down a park road before turning up the mountain. When racing at elevation, I always have to keep in mind that I don’t live at elevation and most of the other runners do. The race started at 5500’ and went up over 7000’ so I wasn’t really feeling it as much as in the past. Later in the race I certainly noticed my heart rate going a bit higher than normal. I was right behind a lady with a red pack and in front of a lady with trekking poles. They were commenting that I was doing well considering, and then we were through the first aid station.

Coming in to the aid station can be a bump in spirits and this one was special. Nikki Kimball, world class ultra runner, lives in the area and I heard this voice that I recognized from her films and interviews. I turned around and sure enough, she was standing behind me with gummy bears. I don’t always acknowledge big name people but this time I had to. I said, “Nikki, you are a fucking badass.” She started laughing and I made sure to say something to the other volunteers. As I ran out of aid, they all started laughing and that was the highlight of the race.

We kept climbing for another couple miles and then went through some Alpine meadows and more climbing. Dropped down some fast switchbacks, more climbing and then a final bomb down even faster switchbacks to the end. The final four miles were downhill and I can feel it this morning.

After the race, I went back to Drew’s place and changed for the drive to Missoula. We rolled into Missoula around 4:30 and I jumped in a van with Geoff to head down to Hamilton for his gig. I’ve never had the chance to see him play with his hot swing band and we chilled out at the Bitter Root Brewery and they played a couple sets.

We got back to Missoula around 10:30 and then sacked out in the living room of Geoff and Laura’s apartment.

Mountains

I’m sitting in my hotel room, it is almost 9pm MST and I’m pretty wiped. Two planes, driving around Bozeman with my cousin Drew and meeting his GF and her kiddo were all just part of what went on today. I almost didn’t make this trip because of all the things that are going on but I’m glad I did, so far.

I’ve tried to establish a routine of calling my kids everyday around the same time and today was one of the first days that I couldn’t due to travel. I did finally get ahold of them later in the day, much later in their day due to the time difference. I have made an effort to “be okay” when I talk to my kids so that they won’t worry and tonight was hard to keep it together on the phone. Probably partially due to the fact I’ve been up since 4:15 am and my body is thinking it’s an hour later and just being out of my element.

I think the overwhelming thing about this trip is that I’m in denial about how well I’m doing emotionally. I keep telling myself I’m doing better and trying to do better and making good choices and it doesn’t really help. Time? Possibly. Talk? Possibly. It’s ok to not be ok and I guess that means I’m ok?

Pictures now.

It Almost Wasn't

Talk about a roller coaster morning. A few months ago, I had planned to go up to Montana to visit my brother, run a race and get out of the Texas heat and flat for a little while. The rental car was cancelled when things went down but the rest of the trip was still in place. I looked at rentals this morning and holy fuck. There was almost nothing available and it would have been between $100 a day and $500 a day to rent something locally. I was pretty overwhelmed and talked to my dad who reminded me that I have family in Bozeman and I just needed to ask for help. So…I did. And things are going to work out and my cousin Andrew and I will have a chance to catch up after growing up close at least through middle school.

Spent the last couple of days with the kiddos. We went to the waterpark on Monday, swimming with friends on Monday and no sunburns (at least on the kids). Yesterday, Sam and I went to Golden Boy without Sophie since she had a rough evening on Monday night. Sam really enjoyed sitting in the yellow chairs and eating one of Storie’s lemon beehive cakes. We had just about wrapped up when Sophie called and asked me to come get her since she was feeling better. We grabbed her and then we saw a movie and just kind of tried to take it easy after entertaining all day Monday.

I went climbing after I dropped the kids off and I can really start to see some improvement in my skills. My hands are starting to get torn up a bit but I think that is just part of the process. After that, went to the hill workout and ground out a tough workout before the race on Saturday. Matt’s mom made him a lasagna so I actually ate some real food for once.

This trip to Montana should be pretty great. Geoff is playing a show on Saturday evening in a town we used to live in for a year or two when I was really young and my uncles are coming to hang out on Sunday, I think. Mountains and family might be what I need this weekend. Enough landmines around here to trigger emotional tsunamis and I’m sure some up there too. My cousin was asking about where the mind goes during long races and we both agreed it was more like Zen than anything. So I’m going to the mountains to Zen out for a couple of days.

Up Early

Since things have been headed the direction that they are, I’ve been sleeping later than I used to but the last couple of mornings I’ve woke up back on my regularly programmed time. 5:30 yesterday, 5:15 today. I’ve been running but it’s been pretty unproductive due to not taking in enough calories during the day, yesterday morning was a change. I’d eaten enough the day before and had energy and since it was early enough that it wasn’t really that hot, I went for 5 miles. I ran through the neighborhoods around Denton High and even came across the XC team running hills at McKenna park.

I spent the rest of the day with the kids, took them to swimming and lunch with some friends and then came back to the Bolivar house to hang out. They are still doing mostly ok, it is just hard when we are together all day to not have access to their stuff to keep them occupied. Nothing here is theirs and that is hard for them, and me, because they don’t feel like they have any ownership over what is here. After I dropped the kids off, I was feeling pretty much like I didn’t need to be alone and tried to hit some friends up for climbing. They were just getting off work and weren’t up for it so I went back to McKenna park and ran the DARC Hill Workout instead of climbing. I let Ben know I was kind of amped and I shouldn’t probably be doing a hard workout but did anyway.

As much as their are moments or days where things are starting to feel like I’m getting into a routine, there are just as many moments in the day when I feel pretty bleak and out of control. We took a picture at the end of the hill workout and I got called out for mean-mugging. I’d love to smile, just didn’t have it right then. I’m still struggling with asking for what I need, even going through this process, but I’m getting better at asserting myself (in a nice way) and hopefully there will be some returns on that willingness to step up.

Today, I’m going to run a bit and then talk to my kids and then probably go climb. And breathe.

The day that was

Spent the day with the kiddos today. Picked them up at 8 and rather than grab donuts from the local spot, we went down to my neighborhood and had breakfast at Loco Cafe. I always run into old students working there and today was no exception, I saw at least three.

After breakfast, we drove up to Lake Ray Roberts - Isle du Bois Unit and walked around on the paved trail. The kids had a good time in the woods before we had to make a break for the restroom near the boat launch. Lake levels are way up due to the unseasonably wet weather we’ve had since, well since November. Most of the park was shut down due to lake levels but we still had a chance to enjoy the weather.

We met up with my dad for lunch and then spent the rest of the afternoon playing at the park, getting rained on and then playing some games. I dropped the kids off and was pretty proud of myself for keeping things together for most of the day. Until I didn’t.

Dropping them off and getting back in my car is the hardest part. My counselor told me to just get used to these tsunamis of emotion that wash over from time to time. Don’t pick up the phone, don’t do anything, just sit with the discomfort. It is so hard to do but I know that this is the right path for me to be on right now and I have to live with that and deal with the hard parts as they come.

I was going to go to a show tonight and see some friends play but I don’t have the emotional energy to make it through a concert tonight. The past couple of days have really taxed my available emotional reserves and I’m pretty raw. I opted for a beer and some unexpected company.

Progress

I spent most of the day today at the Peach Street House (Spiderweb HQ) with the crew helping with recording of pieces for the DMA project that we have coming up in September. It was gorgeous outside and a small group of us hung out talking about the work and relationships and how we navigate the world.

I’ve been worried about how I would be able to make it through the piece that I wrote for this project because it dealt specifically with what I’m going through right now. I wrote the piece while I was coming down from the panic attack that set all of this in motion and I knew that reading it out loud would be brutally difficult. True to form, I made it through the first stanzas ok (first poem in almost 18 years) and then had to stop. I kept going back in to get enough for a full take and then took some time recovering. The piece is a little longer than it needed to be and I know that Conor will cut things to work with the project. I re-recorded the piece when I got back to the Bolivar House after climbing with Josh and Chris, clean take after some computer issues and it’s right here.

I had a really meaningful conversation about parental abandonment with Morgan as they unpacked the baggage around an absentee, emotionally abusive father and resonated with them mostly because of my experiences with my mother.

Tomorrow is Father’s Day and I’ll spend as much of the day with my kiddos as I can. They have been so great during this process and I know it isn’t easy for them. All I can do is promise that I won’t be a future conversation about a parent who isn’t one.

Settling

I’m starting to get into a new normal, at least as much as I can. A friend had a room open in his place and so I’m staying with him until I move into my own place at the beginning of August.

Monday we had the first run of the Summer Series, I think this is the third year that we’ve put this on. There were around 200 people that showed up to run around the Southridge neighborhood and then hanging out after for the pools and food. It was nice to see so many people, a lot of new faces and people who only come out and run with us during the summer.

Yesterday, I got to spend some time with my kids. This has been the hardest part of this whole process but I hope that they will benefit in the long run. We played at the park, checked out a new shop on the square (avoid the lego place), had lunch, checked out Summit, ice cream and then the Courthouse Museum. They had a good time and it was good to see them enjoying themselves through all of this.

Social run last night as a crossing guard we always stop runners, not vehicles. As usual, there are always a couple that ignore the big group waiting at the cross walk for the signal and take off on their own. Drives me crazy and I cussed them out pretty loudly in front of the polite runners waiting for the signal. If you can’t figure out how to run in a large group, don’t.

I’m going climbing here in a bit with another teacher/runner and then to the chiro for a work over on my back. It has been tweaky, sleeping on a cot probably isn’t helping the situation, and I need to get things un-tweaked.

I am still here

It’s been pretty crazy the past few weeks. After the show two weeks ago, I had a major panic attack and now I’m getting divorced. I’ve been trying to lay low and make sure I’m taking care of myself, not been too successful on the second part of that.

I got to spend some time with my kids today, something I never took for granted. We spent a few hours at Free Play and had lunch together before they went to check out their new living situation. Life is full of the things you don’t plan for and I can only hope that the future holds happiness on some level for all of us.

I’ll be ok. I have to believe that. I’m really fragile right now and trying to give myself the necessary time to process and heal and try to plan for the future.

My friends took me out climbing today, it was a nice distraction but my mind kept going back to where I’m at right now. Looking at routes and thinking about my kids. Shaking out my hands and then thinking about the future. I’m staying at my other friend’s house for the rest of the summer and then I’ll be in my own place for the first time since 2003. It’s pretty surreal.

If you see me walking around looking lost, you know why. Feel free to say something because I probably won’t.

Real Talk

It’s pretty fair to say that I struggle with depression. It isn’t anything new and it certainly isn’t going away or being helped by my current situation, which is entirely of my own making.

I’ll be back on here when I have my head straightened out and hopefully continue sharing running, teaching and writing experiences.

Last Night

What can I say about last night? Last summer I did a lot of work on myself and I feel like everything broke open again after last night. I performed a monologue for the Spiderweb Show and unlike last year, I got into some really dark emotional territory. I’ve already posted about what I spoke about, the phrase “You are worth showing up for.”

I don’t remember exactly when I started to feel unseen by people around me, it really goes back to when I was a kid and became the kid who could eat the most and that was about it. I struggled with an eating disorder in high school, and probably still do to some extent if I’m being honest with myself. Part of showing up for yourself is making sure that needs are met and I don’t always/almost never make sure that I’m taking care of myself the way I need to. Others first, always. Empathy is such an important tool but it can also cut back the other way if it only goes one way.

Need to work on my transitions.

The monologue went really well, Jacob and Carlo and Machelle created a beautiful soundscape and I made it up to the point where I started walking this student back to my office and I started to lose it. We always used to make fun of my dad when he would cry preaching but when one is repressed enough, anything can be a trigger. I went through the rest of the performance trying to keep words coming out and not openly weeping on stage. I knew people I cared about were in the audience and being that emotionally open is scary to me because it opens up all kinds of shit I’d rather not deal with.

No one wants revolution because revolution is painful.

I barely made it through the phrase at the end of the monologue, I was making eye contact with people and this guy Scott in the front row, another teacher, was balling right there with me.

I made it through but had to put the mic back on the stand and hurry off-stage to weep into the arms of Courtney who was waiting in the wings. My friend Josh came over and talked to me about how I helped him through some rough shit in the past when we were training for our first marathon. Scott came up and talked to me after too, among others, and I didn’t know what to say.

I think I understand where these misunderstood, invisible kids are coming from because I feel that way frequently. It isn’t anyone’s fault, there is plenty of blame to place squarely on my own shoulders.

I didn’t sleep after the show. I went and had a drink with some friends, went home and couldn’t shut my eyes. I had this deep feeling of despair just forcing my eyes open. I tried reading, tried just closing my eyes, but nothing seemed to work. I’ve honestly been up since 3:30 yesterday morning and I’m sure that doesn’t help my emotional state. I’m sitting in front of the computer with tears pouring down my face trying to make it through this post.

I feel unmoored. I feel lonely, and lost. I always appreciate people reaching out, it isn’t really about being alone. I’ve got wonderful people around me and a supportive community, a couple of them. I don’t know if I need to start seeing my therapist again, it doesn’t really help if you already have things figured out and there isn’t any easy way to deal with it.

Maybe I just need a nap?

Somebody got up early...#nosleep #trying