Monday, October 26, 2009

An Anatomy Lesson a la Carmella

Today as I was driving the kids to gymnastics I told them that I would be running while they had their classes. I reminded them that if I was late they were to STAY IN THE BUILDING and wait for me. I started in on the not talking to strangers and no matter what anyone said they were not go anywhere with anyone but Carmella interrupted me:

"Mommy don't worry," she said "Beau and I have discussed this. If it is a woman we punch her in the stomach and if it is a man we kick him in the shins . . ."

Now it was my turn to interrupt. "Not the shins," I said. "If it is a man you kick him as hard as you can in the nuts and run as far and fast as you can!"

Carmella confused asks "His nuts? Where are a man's nuts?"

Beau and I together answer: "His balls!"

Carmella still has a blank look and blinks her wide brown saucer eyes. So I clarify it for her: "His penis babydoll. You kick him as hard as you can in his penis. Got it?"

"Oh, right," she says getting it. "His shins. Same thing."

Oh my God! This is way better than the time when Carmella was 3 and asked why Beau's bottom was different than hers. I told her that he was a boy and he had a penis and she was a girl and she had a vagina. Then for weeks after wards all she talked about was her "china" and Beau's "peanuts". And no I never corrected her but somehow she figured out all on her own what shins are on a man.

Is it wrong that I immediately wished that I had shin splints as an injury instead of ITBS and I could go around complaining how much my shins hurt? That would really mess with her head! But even better than that it would make this conversation come full circle for Beau.

Ah kids. Even when you're knocked down they give you reasons to get back up and just laugh.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Puffed Up and Pouty Like a Swollen Creek

I can't talk about Fight Club yet. I am sour on things; bratty and really don't have a lot nice to say. Everything is off, out of place and just plain not copacetic in my little corner of the universe. Yes, I am hiding--throwing sticks and tossing stones and just not ready to come out. Maybe when it is sunny here again I will.

I do feel guilty for neglecting the blog. I haven't written because I am so negative lately. I can hardly stand to be around myself; much less spend time, thought, and words giving it a name, labeling and cataloging it here for you. I can't even find humor at it--at myself and well, that almost never happens. The yuckiness that I feel lately is thick and chewy and I want nothing to do with it and trust me, neither do you.

Yesterday though, when the sun peaked out a tiny bit, I did go for a little run in the morning and while not fantastic it was okay because it didn't hurt, I could breathe and of course, I was getting to run. But I didn't feel great and it was totally disgusting down by the river where I ran: sewer smell, gray and red mud slicks, twisted and broken trees, mushy gravel and occasionally, an impassable flood pool. All that on a mostly paved path.

In the afternoon I was feeling even better and really wanted to get another workout in. But Tuesdays Beau has his theater class . Typically, while Beau is in class, Carmella and I go shopping or go down by the river and she rides her bike and I run along side her. However, having seen the condition of the trail that morning and knowing Carmella's sensibilities I knew that wasn't going to work out. And because of the general lack of resources, as discussed in the previous post, shopping was out too.

So I convinced Carmella to go on a hike.

I convinced her by telling her we didn't have to run and that we could bring Lola.

Beau's theater class is in the historic section of Roswell and right near the old mill.
The mill area has been completely transformed in the last 10 or so years. When I was younger I thought of the area as a bit sketchy but now I am not even sure if I can afford to breathe the air over there it is so fancy and cute in it's pretentious small town quaint. (Hmm, that sounded a bit snarky. See, I told you I am not nice lately.)

I have heard that there are hiking trails over there and I have been wanting to check them out as I am always looking for new places with new sights to put the miles in. I have no idea how long they have been there but as far as I know they were not there when I lived over in that area during grad school. (I lived a block over on the street with all the churches. A huge 2 bedroom for $500 a month with hardwood floors that I had all to my little lonesome. It was cheap and wonderful and that is where I lived when I very first started running. Ah, nostalgia. . . )

At any rate, for those who have not been there and are also in need of a new place to run it looks like there are quite a few trails and they go all the way down to the cliffs at Allenbrook . How long the trails are I don't know-- the maps I saw didn't say but I am really really bad at reading maps. You go and figure it out and report back to me.

The trails are a little technical, probably most like the ones at Sope Creek. I don't know if you can mountain bike on the mill trails or not. I did not see signs saying one way or the other and I did not see any mountain bikers or really anyone else on the trails.

I brought my camera and we took pictures along the way.

This is the waterfall at Vickery Creek.
I am not totally clear on the names since I saw that it was called Big Creek in a few places. All I know is that I use to hang out a lot down at the waterfall off Sloan Street in high school and we called it Vickery Creek and we could walk straight across the top. And sometimes, never me, people jumped off the waterfall.

This is how it looked yesterday. I was kind of scared just to stand near it. Betting no one is jumping off it or walking across the falls this week.
There are mill ruins all over. Most people hate kudzu but one of the things I love about the landscape of the South is seeing the battles between the vines and the architecture. It is a war in slow motion.

Even though she made me promise we didn't have to run. She ran most of the time. Seriously. She is so silly. Running? It is what kids do. That walking crap is for old people.

I have never seen so many mushrooms in the area as I have this summer/fall. In fact, I have been wanting to make cut outs of Smurfs and put them under the mushrooms on the trails I run on. I think people would like that.

In my not so scientific study of local trails in the area and mushroom life the ones at the Lieta trail are the most interesting: bright pink, red or the spotted variety. At Kennesaw Mountain and at the mill trails all I've seen are the brown and white kinds and toadstools.

We walked down Sloan Street to check out the Founder's Cemetery.
I could stand it only long enough to take few pictures. I got chewed to pieces by mosquitoes if I didn't keep moving. I can't believe how bad the mosquitoes are and here it is mid fall.Aren't they usually gone by now? It it terrible. My legs look like I have the pox!

Do you see it? In this picture?

The ray of light? The sun? It is what I am hoping for these days. Trying not to read too much into it that I saw it, however briefly, in a cemetery. However, it is October so I suppose that makes sense. . . somehow.


Thursday, October 01, 2009

A Relative Economic Problem

Special principle of relativity: If a system of coordinates K is chosen so that, in relation to it, physical laws hold good in their simplest form, the same laws hold good in relation to any other system of coordinates K' moving in uniform translation relatively to K.
--Albert Einstein

Or, in simpler terms: everything is relative, at the very least tangetically related.

So. I think I have figured out what my problem is (well at least one of them); I have never really understood economics. None of it. Clearly this is the key to most, if not all of my problems.

And yes, I am even going to blame my lack of blogging on it because in essence it boils down to a supply and demand issue. In this particular economic scenario time is the commodity. Demand for it is high and supply is low. The resource is low. There is a scarcity. Choices have to be made people!

But I think "choice" is a bad word because really, most times I don't actually get to "choose". The choice is already made for me. And ultimately this is my problem with economics. I have a problem with the whole "want" versus "need" aspect of the "choice" theory. For example; I want to spend my time running, writing and shopping. But my resources--my uncooperative IT band, lack of time, lack of money--cannot meet my demands or, really let's just be honest--ever satisfy my "wants". So, this use of the word "choice" in economics really doesn't apply to me. I don't have a choice. Oh my God!<>--am I existing outside of Capitalism? Help!!! I'm trapped in a commune!!

My lack of grasping the economic obvious really wasn't too big of a problem until yesterday. Or rather I should say it wasn't a problem I really paid much attention to if I could get away with it. Denial is not just a river in Africa when it comes to me and economics. However, yesterday I was forced to think about it because my third grader had to study for an "Econ" test.

That's right.

Economics test.

In third grade.

I don't think the word economics was even in my vocabulary until middle school and in that case it was proceeded by the word "home" and was a super fun class where we got to sit at big round tables and make cookies and sew aprons. Imagine my dismay freshman year of high school in Economics when Coach Manus screamed at the class as he ground the chalk into the board writing "THERE ARE NO FREE LUNCHES!!"

(seriously, can't there sometimes be free lunches? )

That was a really, really sad day for me. Then he handed out copies of the Wall Street Journal stock listings and told us to pick a stock to invest in for our first assignment. I've been traumatized about money realities ever since. I remember thinking: This is economics? Where are my cookies? My appliques to sew on my apron?

Taking my required economics 101 class in college was no better and is probably the exact reason why I never wanted to be a business major or even take another business class. I have taken a lot of courses ( I graduated from undergrad with 90 extra hours because I changed my major 3 times) but economics across the board was the only class/subject that I really really hated. Everything else--Statistics and Organic Chemistry included--I could find something interesting, something that I liked.

So yesterday when I came across a white typed flyer that said Econ Lessons at the top of the page in bold print I immediately felt that same confusion and stress I felt in freshman economics. There were these bolded titles:
Lesson 1: Scarcity (
no coincidence that the word "scar" is in there)
Lesson 2: Opportunity Cost
(doesn't that just sound ominous?)
Lesson 3: Consumption
Lesson 4: Production
Lesson 5: Interdependence
(this doesn't sound so fun either)

All with neat bullet point definitions below them. At first I thought maybe it was a political flyer from the mail that had gotten mixed up with the kids school papers. I turned it over expecting to see a political agenda but it was blank.

"I need to study that Mom," Carmella said as she snatched the paper out of my hand. "I have an Econ test tomorrow," she explained.


I have to admit. A little bit of me died then. For the first time since my kids have been in school I was scared (see, there's that word again) of their homework. I feel pretty confident I can explain most subjects to my kids but economics is the one class I always hated with a passion. It was like every time the instructor talked I heard Charlie Brown's teacher and when I tried to read the textbook I suddenly had dyslexia.

Truthfully though, it is not just economics homework. I really don't like any homework--never really was my thing. I made it my mission when I was in school to do all my homework at school (with the exception of reading or writing research papers. And that was because I didn't view that as work. I liked reading. I liked research. I liked writing-- of course the caveat being: so long it was a subject I actually liked.) If that meant skipping lunch or getting to school an hour early that is what I did. If I couldn't get it done on school property during school time? Yeah, it pretty much didn't get done then.

That said I am stickler about my kids doing their homework and I even help them with it every afternoon and make sure all their assignments are done. I even encourage them to turn stuff in early.

Lucky for me my third grader likes homework and does not make too many "help me with my homework" demands. This is particularly extra lucky for me this year since my first grader's homework is using up most of the available resources (my time).

I knew there were going to be issues with the resources (my time) this year having both a first grader and third grader. I have long heard people saying "third grade is tough." And after my experience with Carmella in first grade I knew it was going to be really hard for Beau this year and his homework would take up a huge chunk of time everyday. So I hoped third grade wouldn't prove too hard for Carmella since there is only so much time (and so much of my patience) in any given afternoon. And so far Carmella has managed all her home work fine. Meaning I have not had to do any of her homework. Maybe once or twice a week I have to answer a question or quiz her on something but otherwise she is on top of it.

First grade homework though. It is killing me! More so than my inflamed It Band is aggravating my left leg and messing up my training. And that, my friends, is a lot.

I found out when Carmella was in first grade just how much first grade had changed but now, if it is even possible, I think it has gotten even harder. Either that or I am just not remembering 2 years ago correctly. Maybe I got too complacent in second grade when the demand (for my time) was low and the supply (my time) was high. Or, even more likely, I am dumber.

My brain cells were compromised the day I found out I was pregnant and have been shrinking exponentially ever since. I thought by giving birth it would have stopped the shrinkage and early on had hopes of gaining some of what I lost back--you know like how your hair fell out and it eventually grew back or your stomach shrunk back--but no such luck for me. My brain is damaged beyond repair.

And just to give you a taste of what I am talking about here is a sampling of stuff my first grader-- wait let me be more specific-- my first grader who HATES to do homework because he HATES to write is assigned: Research Benjamin Franklin. Create a fact book about him." Or, "Write a math subtraction story about fruit. Include three things: a colored illustration, a written story, and a math equation to show the solution." Those are some of the more challenging (time consuming) assignments we have yet to tackle (we get to pick and have to do one every night for the quarter). The easier ones we have accomplished were: making a list of 10 contractions and writing the words that make up each contraction and making 10 addition sentences and writing the inverse subtraction sentence. We also made a "comic book with two characters, one who eats healthy and one who doesn't." We even did a science assignment showing the "water cycle" and listed the different forms of precipitation and drew a picture to go along with it. Seriously, my son with a speech problem can barely say the word "precipitation" never mind write it out. I motivated him to do that assignment by helping him create a word document on the computer. Typing, Googling, and my personal favorite "cut and paste" skills added to the lesson. Thinking this is how we will get that Ben Franklin book done too.

I had to shuffle Beau's homework aside yesterday and gave him a math sheet I printed out. He will do addition and subtraction all day long so long as I do not make him write any pesky words. I sat down with Carmella to go over her "Econ" homework.

Clearly, lack of understanding economics is genetic. Finally! Something Carmella and are have in common. No. I am seriously not happy about this but I did find it funny when I asked her to define "scarcity". The handout says "scarcity happens when there's not enough of something you want." And she just could not wrap her mind around that. No matter how many examples I offered. When I tried to discuss "economic problem" with her--which according to her handout is defined as people having to make choices because of scarcity well, let's just say it was challenge and severely muddied the waters. Like I said, I too have a lot of troubles with those so called "choices".

Her little friend Reina was here playing so I sent them out to play teacher and study the sheet. I told Carmella that I would quiz her when she got home from ballet. But either she was too tired from ballet or there is just a huge mental block in our genetic makeup against economics because she had no clue. I sent her to bed--very stressed out about her test I should add-- and told her I would get her up early to so she could get to school and have extra time to study.

Carmella was ready this morning to leave for school at 6:50 am. As we packed her assignments up and I signed important forms I happened to glance at her agenda. It said "Econ test Friday."

"Carmella," I said. "Your Econ test is when?"
"Today, " she groaned and also looked answered looking at her agenda.
"Really? You wrote that it is on Friday."
"Yeah. Friday" She answered gloomily.
" And today is . . " I ask her.
Her eyes get huge and excited, " Thursday!"

Thank goodness the child has another day to study! Maybe since it is third grade economics this time I-- I mean Carmella-- will finally get it.

So here is what I am thinking. Maybe if I can figure out economics I will in turn be able to figure out how much of a demand I can put on my It Band and still be able to run Mystery Mountain Marathon next Sunday without injury (or pain). I am sure there is some fine economic equation of rest, running, tapering, rehab-ing, stretching and foam rolling and if I can just figure it out then I will be able to satisfy my needs and my wants. I do think, possibly, like how I have a tendency to read too much into a metaphor, I might be reading a little too much into economic theory. Really, it doesn't matter the system, the theory or the law; in the taper the coordinate is always defined by madness.