Sunday, October 29, 2006

More than I asked for

If the first sentence of my last post has taught me anything, it's that you don't joke about hating someone. At least not someone who works for a church and is beloved by the masses.

The things is, I figured I could say something like "I hate my friend Erin" without worrying because it's so obvious IT'S NOT TRUE. It's akin to saying after a while you'll get used to the smell or God is a Republican. (Kidding! We all know he's a Socialist.)

I've mentioned somewhere in my musings that, while I have many friends, it's rare that, like Anne of Green Gables, I find a kindred spirit.

I moved back to Athens, my hometown, nine years ago. I had my wonderful husband and my parents around me, which was and is an incredible comfort. But I felt the absence of a really good friend. So I started praying about it.

It took a while, but God answered that prayer in the form of two people. My friend Elise (who deserves her own post) and Erin.

Elise and I think scarily alike. We say similar things. We like similar things (excepting her freakish love of marching band music). We travel well together.

On the other hand, Erin and I really aren't all that alike -- at least not on the surface. She accessorizes the house according to seasons; I do Christmas. She's very sensitive and nurturing; I've never cried at a wedding and I'll nurture you if I HAVE to or if, you know, you're my kid or something. She remembers everyone's name; Now who are you again?

When we first met, I felt drawn to her but didn't figure there was much of a chance we'd be close friends. I was wrong.

Almost five years ago, she reported (in what I recall being a shell-shocked manner) that she and her husband, Jon, were expecting another child. Up until that time, she was just my friend, Erin, who had three kids. It was with the birth of Caleb nine months later that she became My Friend Erin With Four Kids.

Two months after Erin's announcement, I learned I was pregnant with Connor. In the years that have passed between then and now, our families have gotten increasingly intertwined. They love us and our kids, and we love them and their kids. I've viewed that fact as a blessing for a long time now. But it really settled in my heart last week.

Connor and Caleb both attend Angel Keepers a few days a week (a Mother's Day Out-type arrangement). Those two adore one another, which is a joy to my heart. This particular morning, Erin was running a bit behind, so she dropped Caleb off at my house, and I took both boys to their class.

We sang together in the car on the way there. Caleb requested Johnny Cash. I prayed over both of them. On the way down the hall, I held Caleb's hand and he held Connor's. Outside the room, I put lunchboxes in their spots and then knelt down to hug them both. Kiss them both.

"Love you boys. Have a good day," I said. And they marched in where they were greeted by a chorus of "Connor!" and "Caleb!"

I smiled all the way back to my car as I thought how much I love Erin's son, and what a precious gift that is. I wouldn't hesitate, nor would Roy, to take not only Caleb but every one of those four children as my own.

That's God for you. I asked for a friend, and he delivered a family of six.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Running without being chased

I hate my friend Erin with four kids.

OK. Not really. I love her. But last night while I was running in the half-dark round and round a mile-long path, and it was humid, and hot in a way that is RIDICULOUS for October, I was not thinking of how I love her.

I was thinking about how two weeks ago she casually asked, "You wanna run the Turkey Trot with me?" And how -- though my brain screamed, "SAY NO! For the love of Kraft cheese, say NO!" -- I shrugged as if it were a minor matter not involving pain and phlegm and said, "OK."

Obviously, I was in denial of the last few times I've decided to start running again. (And by "again" I mean since graduating from high school sixteen years ago.) You see, I used to be an athlete. Really. Four quarters up and down the basketball court? No problem. Four quarters up and down the soccer field? No problem. I got tired, but my body went as long as I told it to.

Then, at 24, living in Austin, I decided to join an adult women's soccer league. I was once an awesome soccer player (never mind that it had been a decade since playing competitively).

I couldn't keep up. I had to ASK someone to substitute in for me. Small children and bunnies mocked me. I had a splitting headache the rest of the day following games. It was humiliating. My body wouldn't behave the way my brain told it to, and I detested that so much I did what any proud, self-respecting former athlete would do: I quit.

Damn you, bunnies!

Since then I've briefly re-entered the cardio-workout world on a few occasions. But, to my total shock, my body STILL would not behave the way my brain told it to. I got exhausted quickly. And I hurt. And I felt like crap afterward.

Isn't there supposed to be a rush of hormones that makes me feel wonderful? Aren't I supposed to be energized? "Natural high," anyone?

Well, let's just say after a good margarita and Mexican food with friends, I feel pretty darn good. After a run, I feel like the fourth day of a flu. This is clearly a no brainer.

Then Erin said, "Wanna run the Turkey Trot with me?" And I said yes. And I've been dying ever since then, because I CAN'T just quit now. I can curse the day we met. I can curse the fact that two children, no exercise and an unholy love of cheese does not make for physical superiority. I can just curse.

But. I. can't. quit.

So there I was last night, running/walking/running/walking ... I've worked up to longer runs between the walking. Eventually (she tells herself) I'll be just running. Although at this point, it's hard to imagine that happening. The good thing is, in the short time I've been running, I no longer feel like Toni McKillMeNow for three hours after the run (like the first day), and I'm no longer sore over most of my body (like the first week). So that's progress.

When I no longer check my watch every minute to see how much time I have left to suffer and when I no longer breathe to the beat of "I-hate-this," then I'll REALLY be making progress.

Thing is, I don't REALLY hate it. I mean, I don't love it. I don't even like the running itself. But I do like the sense of accomplishment afterward. I'm not too old or too lazy or too out-of-shape to push myself. That's a good thing. It may not be non-stop up and down a field, but it's something.

And that's more than I could say a month ago.


Monday, October 09, 2006

WTFFDTM, or What The Frickin' Frackin' Does That Mean?

There's something that's been bothering me for quite a while now. More, I daresay than the waning popularity of celebrity poker. In my Internet perusals and the occasional email, I come across acronyms that mystify me.

Hi, Toni. IHHFYIAW. How R U? What's new in ur world? IRAAMND.

And, of course, I'm supposed to just know this translates into:

Hi, Toni. I haven't heard from you in a while. How are you? What's new in your world? I recently acquired a monkey named Deborah.

At the risk of offending millions, is it THAT HARD to spell out words like "are" and "you"? I suppose I should note I'm not talking about text messaging, which involves pecking out correspondence on the cell phone keypad while eating a Frito pie and tailgating me at 70. Clearly, that's a time when linguistic brevity is the only reasonable course of action.

I just missed the boat entirely when it comes to knowledge of all the commonly used shorthand acronyms. I've figured several out from context, of course. It only took a minute or two of pondering to discern IRL means "in real life." At first glance I wondered if "Maybe we can meet IRL someday" suggested a liaison in Ireland.

So in the absence of an authoritative www-shorthand source (and being too lazy to Google it), I've devised my own translations. I like to think they add a certain je nais se qua to the original text.

ROFL. Now I know this denotes laughter. I often see a smiley face next to it. But I cannot figure out what it stands for. ROFL brings to mind the sound one makes while vomiting, which I don't equate with hilarity. But that's just me.

BTDT. I'm clueless. "Beautiful turkeys don't talk." "Beware the dainty trucker."

KWIM. "Kool-Aid works in ministry." "Kan we ingest monkeys?"

MRME. "Methinks randy merriment ensues."

IMHO. "Ima ho." Clearly.

I could go on, but TWJBA. (That would just be annoying.)