Thursday, April 15, 2010

Folly and the Secret Weapon

In mental battles with myself, I tend to lose.

Be it “don’t eat that cookie” or “really, clean the bathtub already”, or “have you ever noticed you’re shaped like a pyramid? Or a Thomas’ English muffin…’bigger on the bottom/smaller on the top’”, I invariably succumb to the battle inside.

Somehow I thought I would outgrow this. Somehow I imagined that after the Fest o’ Insecurity that was my teen/college years I would emerge as a confident, outgoing, accomplished person.

I’m not sure why I thought I would stop being ME, but I kind of hoped it would happen.

A lot of years have gone by since the Fest, and it’s hard to pinpoint whether the things I hoped to do and haven’t are because of circumstances in my life (an easy culprit), or because of Me. Most likely it’s a mix of both.

I have come to see that MOST things in life are a mix. Most things are not black/white, good/bad. Everything is complicated. Except Cadbury mini-eggs. But those can’t really be quantified as a Life Issue.

I found an old diary of mine the other day. I was a little alarmed (and kind of amused) to see the extremes of my teen years spelled out in loopy script. Some entries were funny (I refused to call my first diary a diary, it seemed pretentious, so I referred to it as Book), some were sad (my friend’s little brother died in a freak accident) and some were just …teenish (apparently I have been perfecting Neurotic over a LOT of years). But everything was passionate...even if I did see most things as all the way right, or all the way wrong.

So here, at the brink of Officially Grown Up (only one year left), I have to pick a battle and win it. I just do. Circumstances didn’t kill my passion, they just redirected it. And I am ready to go. Ish.

Maybe I didn’t choose my battle so wisely. Maybe I should have found a crafty or academic kind of mountain to climb…no, I decided on Kilimanjaro. This Saturday, I am going to run the middle section of the Jersey Shore Relay Marathon.

Granted, my great contribution is a measly 4.2 miles. A neighbor who is a hard core runner needs a training run for her next half marathon, so she will do the first 11 miles, and my spouse, also a hard core runner, will do the final 11. I figure they can both go get pedicures or something in the l-o-n-g time it will take me to get down the middle of the oceanfront race course.

It seemed like such a good idea at the time…but then my mental battle began. We only registered a week ago, and the race is SATURDAY. Like, the DAY AFTER TOMORROW!!! YIKES!

I’m not a runner. I have plaguing knee issues, and I am utterly self conscious about how I galumph along (it ain’t pretty). Especially in sports clothing, my physique is, um, Giza-like. I hate how funky you get after running (nasty). I can’t stand how you can run for what seems like an eternity and then realize you’ve gone half a mile. What is that about? I run at glacier speed…seriously, global warming happens faster than I complete a 5K. And now I know it’s supposed to be only 58 degrees and maybe raining on Saturday, which only adds to my misery.

But I do have a secret weapon against the voices in my head that form a continuous refrain of “are you NUTS???”…I have something I hope can carry me through the moments on the course when I don’t feel like I can go farther.

Genna. Rosie. Dave. Sandra. Nora. Gabbie. Drew. Joey. Ann. Siobhan. Emma. Katsie. Julia. Gigi. Arianna. Aidan. Meadow. Ryan. Jenna. Ashley.

The names are my secret weapon.
We are running as part of the NF Endurance Team.

In training today I tried a new system, a run/walk thing that helped my knee and improved my speed by nearly 45 seconds a mile. I only used music, not tv (I run on a treadmill). And when things got hard, I spoke the names…

And you know what? Maybe I DO look like a pyramid with legs. Maybe the IT band brace does make my leg look like an albino sausage. Maybe I am uber-caucasion, sort of a slow motion White Shadow careening along like the Tin Man without his oil. Maybe I am.


Just say the names.

This is one mental battle I refuse to lose.

If it does rain, I will wear a silly SpongeBob hat in honor of our friend Sandy…rain or shine my girls’ faces will be on my shirt…and the names of our friends battling NF. And I will use my Secret Weapon early and often...

Just say the names.

Who knows? Maybe this little 4.2 miles will give me the boost to attempt Everest in September, the Philly Distance Run, a half marathon with hills and everything. We’ll see…anyone wanna be a running buddy?

Regardless of the future, I am determined to win this skirmish against myself…and show my girls that momma’s actions can be louder than the voices in her head.

I just can’t forget to pack myself some post-race mini-eggs…

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


A new television show aired a few weeks ago, Jerseylicious. I cannot say I watched more than 10 or 15 minutes; and even those minutes I regret. But seeing so called Jersey girls snark at each other over big hair and fake nails while their boyfriends call for another meatball did kind of intrigue me. I know, there are other bigger shows that make Jersey look like a soap opera drowning in alfredo, but THIS show happens to be filmed about 12 minutes from my house. I drive by the place all the time (there’s a Dunkin Donuts close by…and yes, I know the location of every Dunkin Donuts within a 20 mile radius of my house, I think!

Anyway, those other shows were ok, because those were not in my neighborhood (and heck, the one more famous Jersey show on MTV recently is populated by New Yorkers, so do with that what you will). But this…come on! I’m a Jersey girl born and bred. I have never worn pleather and fish net stockings two sizes too small, or earrings bigger than my first car. I grew up in an Italian neighborhood with some of the kindest, most generous people you’d ever meet. I may enjoy some snarky commentary, but screaming fights in parking lots? Not so much!

People can do what they want…but to say that this portrayal of Jersey is all that is Jerseylicious is a little annoying to me.

About the same time this show aired, we discovered a new obsession at the Casa Camiolo: The Duke Farms Eagle Cam. On March 27 or so, a pair of bald eagles in Central Jersey—about 20 minutes from the salon featured in Jerseylicious-- welcomed 2 new babies…and the folks who run the Duke Estate managed to mount a webcam on a tree overlooking the nest.

Duke Farms Eagle Cam - Duke Farms

Now THIS is reality tv.

The nest is a massive construction of twigs and sticks and softer grass in the middle. Eagles are not the junior miss petites of the bird world, and the parents bring back entire animals for the babies to eat (which is wildly impressive, I have to admit: to see a bald eagle fly to the nest with a 12 inch fish, then pull tiny bits off and gently feed it to the babies…incredible!). We are mesmerized, even if the babies are getting increasingly weird looking. Bald eagles take a while to look cool, their awkward phase rivals mine (which was epic and some days is unclear if it’s over).

My youngest child eats breakfast with the eagles each morning…we put the laptop on the table, she eats her cereal while the eagles eat carrion. Ew, but cool.

There’s something about the parental instinct of these mighty birds that is awe inspiring. They are so gentle with the babies. We had monster rainstorms here again last week, and all day the momma eagle huddled on top of her babies, keeping them safe and dry even as she looked more and more miserable. The dad eagle takes a turn sitting sometimes too…and now, as the babies are getting so much bigger—in just 10 days!—the parents spend more time next to the young birds (instead of on top of them).

The whole thing is a microcosm of child raising, and it resonates with me—the nice parts, not just the moments where sitting on the kids seems reasonable.

And look, here’s a family that got the kids to eat sushi!

So we haven’t watched anymore Jerseylicious since the first episode, but every day we check in on the eagles about 27 times. This real life nature miracle, with birds so majestic, and so close to our home, kind of makes that other Jersey stuff ok. Let people think we are all bad stereotypes of Italians. Let the secret of the real New Jersey stay secret, and the birds can raise their family in peace while tv cameras capture the “reality” of a salon in Greenbrook.

Just like my own kids, no longer babies, those eagles will fly soon from the nest to find their own way. And I will drown my sorrows in sushi…and who knows, maybe I will find solace in pleather?

Time will tell. Now, back to check on my eagle neighbors while this show is still airing!