Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Marathon Monday

We live in a smartphone world.  You can order food, deposit checks, and stalk your ex all in one finger swipe.  Unfortunately you can also access horrific images without even getting out of bed.  There are countless eyewitness accounts out there surrounding the tragedy of the Boston Marathon.  This is mine.  
Top Right: My friend Erica pushes a wheelchair to help a man achieve his Boston dreams.  Bottom left:  Elise and Heather at mile 21.  Bottom Right: My brother wears a horse mask and holds a sign that says, "Hit here for more horse power."

I wasn’t a registered runner but part of the bandit tradition.  I waited at the light at Chestnut Street and Comm Ave to join my friend on the dreaded Heartbreak Hill.  It was her first marathon, and she had raised $5,000 for the charity “Voices of Hope.”  She wore a neon green shirt with her name on the front, the charity’s name boldly printed on the back, and the names of cancer survivors, cancer patients and those who lost their battle to cancer scribed in between.  The shirt also bore good luck messages from friends, families and the middle schoolers we work with.  Her shirt alone represents the good that exist in this world, and the best part about it was that it wasn’t unique to the runners on the course.
Moving "selfie" at mile 19.  My first mile and Elise's 19th of the course.
As I waited for her to come into view, I was able to see a tiny portion of the shirts worn by the estimated 2,500 charity runners.  Countless messages of inspiration ran past.  People running for loved ones and people running for strangers.  People who wore messages of their own battles conquered, as a woman who wore a shirt that announced, “I am the face of arthritis.”  People ran to honor the memory of battles lost, to heal their grief and contribute hope to the future.  

People ran in zebra suits, tutus, plush hamburger belts, hotdog costumes and even Crocs.  The crowd screamed any name that came into view, whether a charity name, the name of a college or a name written in sharpie on the arm of a determined runner.  One man even wore a shirt that read, “Sooee, sooee” to encourage the crowd to hog call.  I recalled my first Boston marathon injuries from 2008, blistered fingers from ringing a cowbell furiously, a sunburned neck and voice that was no longer.  I was a spectator.  
This face represents Marathon Monday.
High fives at Boston College
I rocked, chomping at the bits to join these runners and false started at every neon green shirt that came into view.  When I saw my friend Elise, I shot into the crowd screaming, “Let’s do this!”  Elise had over 18 miles under her belt already and was elated by the crowd.  Boston will do that to you.  I got to witness the other side of the marathon, the receiving end of the energy. I told her my favorite running quote of all time, “If you are losing faith in humanity go out and watch a marathon.”  I told her, “This is the good in the world,” as we passed a man on stilts walking 26 miles for a children’s charity.  We listened to various versions of Elise’s name (Elsie, Alice, etc) and acknowledged each one.  We slapped the hands of college students until our hands hurt. We chanted USA and screamed with our hands above our heads.  I took pictures and videos and these will be the images of my eye witness account.   My original plan was to jump out of the race around mile 23, but I physically couldn’t.  It would be like leaving a party at 7 pm.  I wanted to stick it out and witness my friend’s moment of crossing the finish line of her first marathon, I wanted to soak up the crowd and take in every moment that is Marathon Monday.  
Inflatable Arch: The Heartbreak is Over

We were stopped less than half a mile from the finish line. 

We already have plans to go back to that spot so Elise can officially complete Boston.  Elise deserves her moment as do all the runners who committing to countless hours of training and fundraising.  We are already committed to run the 2014 Boston Marathon. I know I’ll have to raise $5,000 to run as a charity runner for our school district, but I am determined that is possible now more than ever.  People want to help, people want to do good.  

Please don’t define Marathon Monday by the vicious act of one, but instead by the inspiring acts of thousands.  The world isn’t a sick place, there are just a handful of sick people in a beautiful crowd of millions.  I urge everyone with every ounce of my being to avoid the photos of the tragedy that plaster the internet.  The images that we all need to see right now are the the euphoric faces of the runners, the crowds ten people deep, Team Achilles featuring runners with artificial limbs, the runners in their 80s, the runner’s pushing wheelchairs, Team Hoyt ,or the couple who married just after finishing.  Please share any positive pictures and stories that you have from Monday.  These are the images that restore your faith in humanity- the images that represent the marathon, the images that are Boston.  

Friday, October 7, 2011

I'd watch me if I were a show.

"Most people wouldn't be able to handle this, let alone find it funny."-my friend Hubbard in reference to my recent dating disaster spree.

People put down reality TV. I can see why. Rich people get boring. However I do give major props to Kourtney Kardashian for her "People are dying," response to her sister's tears over a lost, insured $75,000 earring. I also caught a glimpse of the Situation throwing his own head into a wall and found that to be gold. With the exception of Kourtney's lessons on perspective and the Situation doing to himself what millions would like to do to him, reality TV can be monotonous.

On the other hand with a laugh track sitcom, you have to pay people to write scripts and then hire actors, and the majority of the time my actual life is more interesting. Maybe the cast is less attractive and the series lacks cliff hangers but I would say that compared to the new fall lineup on most networks, I win. Charlie Sheen like winning where you're winning a contest at failing.

I don't have a reality TV show, but I do have internet access to a free blog in which I can share my misery with others for a cheap (actually free) laugh.

I signed up for online dating which has provided an incredible amount of blogging material and not much else except a lack of sleep and faith in love.

I had a date last month at a hip bowling alley/pizza place. We agreed on 5:30. You can imagine my surprise when my phone buzzed with the text- "I'm here." at 4:20. When I said "Oh, I thought we were going to meet at 5:30", he said "whenever you're ready". While showering my phone buzzed again and the screen lit up with the question, "Should I order so the food is ready when you get here?". I wanted to call in a bomb threat to the bowling alley but technology is so good now a days that I'd probably get caught.

I arrived at 5:25 to face the lemonade sipping tiny man who made my 5'2 stature comparable to Khloe Kardashian. He also insisted we share a pizza instead of getting a pizza for one. This wouldn't have been such a big deal but he also insisted on getting a plain pizza in a place known for it's creative toppings. Let me get my own damn pizza.

The conversation was awkwardly boring with the exception of his disdain for a cancer survivor coming back to work at the hospital that helped him. "Like we need his help," he lamented. It also is painful when someone says, "I think this is going well, don't you?", and you want to through your own head into a wall like the Situation.

Luckily the date only lasted an hour, and I wished I had had him order for me to make it even quicker. He ended the date with an, "I'll call you and if you don't pick up I'll text you because I don't like to leave voicemails." He was true to his word, and while I felt stressed over letting him down, the wisdom of Kourtney rang in my ears. "There are people dying." True, this isn't a big deal and while men have taught me how to do the slow fade, I decided it was kinder to lie. "It was great to meet you, but I'm going to pursue another match. Good luck." He immediately took down his online profile and I can only hope that it's because that early bird did find his worm.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

My Life: A Series of Disappointments

Before reading this blog, please visit https://www.dateanddash.com/ and create your own speed dating expectation.

Disappointment- when ones expectations are not met.

I realize that often my expectations remain unsatisfied, even my low ones for basic human interaction. I had set the set the bar just about grazing the ground for speed dating, so how could I experience disappointment? I had expected awkwardness, uncomfortable moments, the challenge of suppressing laughter--I just expected about 1o dates worth of these.

I am an early person. I allow time for traffic, parking, protests, flooding, granny drivers, Godzilla reenactments and detours. This is part nature and part of the nurture that the city of Boston has given me. The event says to arrive at 8:00 to sign in. I arrive at 7:58 and am given a number 1 to wear as in I am the first loser here. I then sit at the bar for 35 minutes alone, the kicker being that I paid $17 to do this (thank you groupon, because if I paid the full $35 it would have really steamed my clams). The soundtrack to my life kicked in as the bar played, "I Don't Wanna Be Lonely No More" and "Me, Myself and I". Why not throw on "All By Myself" for the hat trick?

Finally after paying to sit alone at a bar on a Tuesday night, the event commences. I look around the room at 3 men and 3 women and take a swig of Sam Adams.

Date 1: Nice guy, just no chemistry. We end up discussing maggots on cheese, and if the maggots would actually make the cheese beneath better. This was my best date.

Date 2: Me sitting alone for about 6 minutes. Wait, this was my best date.

Date 3: Again nice enough guy. He tells me his day is hectic and he works from 8am-8pm. He then goes on to tell me that he takes an hour for lunch, an hour for dinner, works out there and then has a ping pong tournament daily. Today I had to remove a student from taunting me while dancing on a toilet seat who later bit me. I think our definitions of hectic work days might clash a bit.

Date 4: The guy asks me if I like to watch sports. I answer that I love going to games, but don't enjoy watching them on the old boob tube (I didn't say boob tube, but in retrospect I wish I did). I tell him I love playing sports and being active. He says, "I'm gonna be honest with you Kate, it's a struggle for me to be active. Work has been so demanding, I've been putting in 65 hour work weeks." I sympathetically respond, "Wow! What could you possibly do for 65 hours a week?" He responds "Deliver pizza. (pause). It puts a real strain on my car." I then ask about mileage reimbursement. He answers followed by creepily staring at me. I ask if he's okay, he responds. "We are just having an awkward silence." I appreciate the narration.

I return my matches page blank.

I'll take "Me, Myself and I".

Saturday, September 11, 2010

My life in clothing ruins

There's something about getting new back to school clothes, getting that first day outfit in August and calling your friend the night before the first day of school to describe in detail your duds from top to bottom. When selecting my first day of school outfit, I realized how much tri training had changed my body and how much of my closet had become unwearable. Ladies, I don't need to get in to detail on how awesome that feels.

Bring on project try on, where you go through everything, wrestle with zippers, get your arms stuck in sleeves, but then tell yourself how someone else can use your clothing. Then you take note from shows like Clean Sweep or Clean House or some other show that exposes people as sloppy and tip toes around the mental illness of hoarding. I separated my clothing into items for Planet Aide, Salvation Army and a pile which I had the high hopes of selling at a used clothing store called Buffalo Exchange.

I lugged my white scented trash bags full of my beloved clothing that I couldn't pull on past my thighs or zip over my shoulders. I watched as my life was dumped out onto a cold steel table and I watched sentimental items (like a great dress I bought in Ithaca and wore to my last party there as well as to a friend's wedding) be tossed aside and called the politically correct term for "out of style"- slow sellers. Out of my four large bags of clothes, only 5 items were accepted. I walked out with $21 and a dip in my self esteem. With my tail between my legs, I help my sister separate out the work appropriate clothing for her to take to "Dress for Success", an organization that prepares homeless women for job interviews.

I began to lug the bags two doors over to donate to the Salvation Army when I'm stopped by a short, stalky man. He's donning a red tank top and tells me his arms are cold and asks me for a sweater. I offer him a sweater that no longer fits me and the following interaction occurs.

Man: Can I have a whole bag of clothes? I'm homeless.
Me: Sir, I don't think there's anything in here that would fit you. I'm donating these items because they are too small for me.
Man: They'll fit me, I'm built like a woman.
Me: Sir you are bigger than I am and--
Man: Come on, one bag, I'm homeless.
Me: I'm telling you that I don't think anything will fit me and I'm on my way to donate them. (I gesture to the shop next to me).
Man: Come on one bag.
Me: Fine (I reluctantly hand over one of the bags)
Man: Lady what's it worth to gain the whole world and lose your soul? I'm homeless.
Me: Well you got your bag.

I march furiously into the Salvation Army to donate my clothing. I am absolutely steaming about the entire interaction. I'm feeling out of style and my feelings are hurt that Buffalo Exchange didn't like my clothes. I'm worried about the clothes going to waste and completely pissed off about his little quote at the end. I'm not entirely sure how I was losing my soul while donating clothing to charity.

My sister and I drive off when she suggests I circle back to see what he's done with his prize of women's clothing. We turn the corner to see the bag shredded and my belonging strewn about the sidewalk. A little old Asian woman is holding up a pair of short white shorts, shaking her head in disgust. I pull over and my sister and I scramble to pick up my degraded items of clothes to donate. While my sister takes them inside to the Salvation Army. I decide I'm gonna find this guy and tell him something. I look around Davis Square, knowing he couldn't have gotten far. Then I spot the powder blue trucker hat and a neon pink shirt that I got for free while working the summer program. My sister is coming out of the store, and I point out my target and march over to the man wearing my tight shirt.

Me: Um excuse me? (the man turns to me)
Me: Are you kidding me? Are YOU kidding me? You follow me, guilt me into giving you clothes and then dump them all over the sidewalk?!?! You couldn't have dropped them 10 feet over at the place where I was going to take them? You're kidding me! That is so disrespectful.
(At this point I realize the audience I've gained from the people at the bus stop and at Anna's Taqueria and this fuels me, like I imagine the cast of Jersey Shore feels from knowing people tune into their tirades)
Man: I was just going to go pick them up. I'll pick them up and I'll put them in the trash.
Me: The trash??!?! When the Salvation Army is right there? That is so disrespectful, so incredibly disrespectful. You know I'm going to not want to help people who ask for it because of you, so fuck off.

I immediately turn to my sister and remark how happy I am that I did that. I don't think I can recall making such a public scene. I don't think I gained the world in this whole experience, but I'm pretty sure I didn't lose my soul.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Febreezing a urine soaked pig

I should have known I'd switch career goals. While incredibly theatrical and dramatic, I was not destined for the life of an actress. There are reasons for this, the most notable being that it is difficult for me to get into a role without feeling like an ass. This is exemplified by my being cast (without an audition) as the role of Goose in Charlotte's Web. I was 20 years old and felt like a moron repeating my words. "Why hello, hello, hello. I'm the goose, goose goose!" Mortification hits me as I write this.

I was an intern for a reputable PA theater group. I was cast as the goose in order to help with the child actors of the goslings. I had to herd them onto the stage and then wrangle them off to the tunes of the "Ooohs and aaaahs" of the audience. While backstage during a performance one of the doe eyed curly headed gosling showed me her water bottle. Her father had lovingly picked mint from their yard to make her water even more refreshing. She gulped and gulped and then encouraged me to taste it, I did and it was quenching and delicious.

A few moments later we were on stage when I felt her tug at my mormon-esque skirt. She whispered, "I had to go to the bathroom." It only took me a second to realize the incorrect tense of this sentence. I then looked down at the urine spreading across the stage into the hay of Wilbur's bed. I used my improv skills and ushered my little goslings off the stage. Luckily my paper mache bill hid my laughter and my acting skills hid the fact that something was wrong. Out of the corner of my eye as we departed the stage, I could see poor Wilbur (played by a 13 year old boy) make his way to his cozy bed of hay and happily roll in it. His amazing acting skills hid his realization that the hay was wet. Now that really is "some pig". During a scene change, I febreezed the poor plush pig costume and pushed him back onto the stage to finish the play.

I'm having some water with mint as I write this and realizing that while I was a piss poor actress (pun intended), I'm a damn good special ed teacher who can handle wet pants with style and grace.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Just another motorist.

I love the Allstate commercial that has happy families traveling along the highway. The one where there are no cars, but instead people smiling, swinging and barbequing along the interstate. The anti-road rage message of the commercial is-"What if we treated people on the road as if they were in our homes?" Love it. Beautiful.

But what if we treated people in our lives as if they were just another motorist in our way?

The other day I saw a large black pickup truck run a light, with no turn signal on and cut me off. I knew instantly that this was clearly going to be an asshole behind the wheel. I also intuitively knew that this smart son of a bitch would flip me off for beeping. Having this split second knowledge allowed me to beep, steer and flip them off (and I was 100% correct that those hillbillies would be giving me the finger) while safely making it to my destination.

What if I had this foresight in life?

What if I could tell within a second who would wrong me, and then give me "the bird" for being upset by their actions?

What if I could smoothly give a proverbial finger with my right hand while calmly navigating through life with my left?

Would it always be as satisfying as it was matching the 15 year old redneck sticking his finger out the passenger side window (and knowing that I didn't have to have my window down because MY car had air conditioning)?

Is it really satisfying to always "beat someone to the punch?" Or would it just take road rage off the road and onto our doorstep?

I bet the Allstate man knows. He has a very confident voice. Until then, I'll continue to treat motorists like loved ones, and even treat assholes like loved ones, and go to bed each night feeling one up on the world- at least morally. And maybe once in a while a hillbilly will get to stick it to me, but at the end of the day I get to be me and they get to be a hillbilly, and there's a victory in that.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Will I ever be loved?

Now the title of this sounds depressing if you don't read it correctly. You have to read it in the voice of a 7 year old boy with autism, who once asked me, "Will I always beeeeee wuhite?" When I started to say, "Yes," he punched me in the face.

This incident occurred over three years ago. Three days prior to his white anger outburst, I had come home to open my computer to find a slew of emails entitled "Re:Your Craigslist Ad". I didn't recognize the email of the account (which was the handle of jimmythesquirrel), but immediately upon opening one of the many emails recognized the pictures of me and my fiance which he was shopping around online to pick up men. I wish he had had the skills to at least crop me out. The next thing that struck me was that he had listed himself as a 180 lb jock, when in reality he was a 210 lb couch potato. I wondered if the men answering these ads wanted to replace our welcome mat with a scale.

You know how in movies a person speaks to themselves outloud? I had always thought it was an artistic choice, or a way to help a B list actor who couldn't show the emotion with their face. Well, it can happen naturally, as I heard myself whisper over the open laptop, "He's gay.?!" In between hysterical phone calls, I grabbed my post its that the SPCA had given me. They had a cartoon dog and cat frolicking in the sunshine, and across the top in a font that resembled a child's innocent scribble stated"A note from Kate Mullen." I simply wrote "Found your emails," and then stuck the post it to my laptop and laid down my engagement ring for effect. My friends arrived in moments to fill trash bags with my belongings and I never saw him again (well the last part isn't true, I saw the back of his fat head in a parking lot three years later, but I like the dramatic effect of never seeing him again. I didn't choose to see him in the parking lot, so I will not allow that to wreck my story).

Three days later I was back at my internship singing Kelly Clarkson songs in the cafeteria with my buddy, "Daniel". He stopped signing and asked me "Is Alyssa black?" I said yes. "Am I white?" Again, yes. "Will I allllways beeee wuhite?" I think I got the y sound out before his closed fist met my cheek. We stood there staring at each other for a second. He then asked, "Will I have to eat lunch with someone else now?". The next 10 minutes involved me carrying him kicking, screaming, spitting towards our quiet room. I finally got him into the room, and turned and shut the door. I leaned back against it catching my breath. My cheek stung and my mind was racing, "Your fiance is gay, and you are starting out all over again. You've just been punched in the face, and behind this door is a child screaming-I'm angry because I'm white. This is your life-Laugh or cry Kate". I laughed.