The DIY Freedom Tri

Today’s DIY Freedom Tri was the most fun I’ve had over the last four years we’ve been doing this event! Not lacking in surprises, the morning started with me locking my keys in the car at Lost Grove Lake. Fortunately I was already wearing my wetsuit and thanks to the kindness of buddies–Heidi had an extra swim cap, Michael spare goggles and Erin, vital ear plugs (I’d end up in the E.R. without ’em)–we were able to start what would be a .9 mile swim.

swim

While this went down, Marty brought a spare key and treated the seven of us to AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” as we exited the water! Unfortunately Lisa and Cathy had to bail after the swim so the bike was down to Bonnie, Heidi, Erin and I doing the century and Michael doing 50, blowing the doors off our quartet of female badassery. Our century was a loop north out of Scott County, west along the southern portion of Clinton County, south back into Scott County and east along LeClaire Road back to Lost Grove Lake.

The first 30 miles were fairly uneventful, but Marty rode out to meet us east of Charlotte, snapping the first of many group shots.

charvegas

After leaving “CharVegas” and waving at my house, we pit stopped in Delmar where Erin met half a dog!

half dog

caseys

Eventually Marty left us at Elwood where we continued onto Lost Nation.

Despite the “Lost” Grove Lake and “Lost” Nation, we were pretty solid with our map skills (compared to last year, eh hem). Some people wondered why we were starting the swim at 5:30 am and much of the reasoning rested in the fact we were cycling 100 miles. As we moved westward toward Lost Nation, it was clear the west/southwest wind was picking up and getting stronger. And headwinds SUCK!

tri stop

After regrouping in Lost Nation, we headed south and west toward Toronto where I started to feel so damn grateful for my health. To be out in the middle of cornfields, pedaling my ass off, chafing because I forgot my chamois butter, sweat dripping down, I remembered how lucky I am. Not just to have the strength to do it and to have beautiful open roads, but that all four of us are doing Ironman Wisconsin in September. None of us are bent on competing with each other. We’re just in it together, excited for the experience.

road selfie

open road

Somewhere north of Wheatland, however, my gratitude flagged due to the buckshot of gross, hard, large flying beetles swarming in slow flight everywhere! But it was also time for sugary sustenance (ice cold Mountain Dew) so after a brief stop in Wheatland it was on to Dixon where Erin had to document our visit due to one of her two fur babies sharing the same name.

dixon welcome

dixon batter

One of the best things about Dixon, aside from Erin getting to set up in the batter’s box was the direction we were headed: south east! Finally the sweet reward of a tailwind that would carry us past Jeff and Cirt’s giant cob and eventually LeClaire Road via a final Mountain Dew stop in Donahue.

corn cob

Given the straight shot through Eldridge to Well’s Fargo/240th and back to Lost Grove Lake, Bonnie told Erin, Heidi and I to “give it hell” during the last miles to see what our legs could do. And give it hell we did! The three of us worked a short pace line that resulted in a Strava “Queen of the Mountain” along one of the segments of LeClaire Road! And Heidi achieved her first CENTURY!!!!

heidi hill bike

But the day’s challenge wasn’t complete–we had a run to knock out. Initially it was to be a 10k, but admittedly we jacked around enough during the bike that we just wanted to be done so we simply ran to the first water stop and turned around. It was a perfect 5k.

run

 

5k finish

What a day! It was hard, but not impossible. Uncomfortable, but not unbearable. Hot, but not awful. Joyful and totally badass!

Final shot

Last week someone questioned if we’d have medals. No. But Bonnie’s search of heavy metal for an eventual work of art was definitely the best metal of all!!!

Heavy metal

Much like Superman, we were all a little beat up, but still had our capes. HELL YEAH!

The Assholes of Summer

Not to sound like Jack Nicholson, but I’m warning you, “They’re baaaack!”

Like retired snow birds who winter south & critique their neighbors’ lawns. Like seasonal cabin renters who harass locals with their fireworks & whine over spotty cell coverage. These assholes are worse.

Red-winged black birds.

These shitty migratory shits are about as fair weather as they come. It seems they leave for warmer climes well before the heartier, friendlier robins even think of heading south. Come spring, they arrive just as tardy.

When they show up I can’t help, but feel a Newman-loathing Jerry Seinfeld bubble up inside. “Hello, asshole.”

I used to laugh at their audacity. They’d screech & perform fly-bys while I’d be out running. I’d shout, “Look asshole. I been here all winter. This MY road!”

But last week while biking in Wisconsin, out of nowhere I felt & heard a disgusting brush of wings & scratch of talons on the top of my helmet! I screamed something to the effect of “Piss off, asshole!” & continued my ride. Unfortunately for me, that ride required a repeat of that section & wouldn’t you know it, that asshole was waiting for me. This time I saw the shadow of outstretched wings & reaching talons before she could strike! I waved my arms & screamed at the top of my lungs, “FUCK OFF, BIRD!” & rode away.

I thought that was the end of it, but Friday morning, as I was feeling schleppy & kind of lonely from all the solo training, I headed out for a pre-work ride. About five miles out, near the area of Argo, I was jolted by the sudden screech, scratch, brush of wings & talons upon my helmeted head. I tried waving my arm above my head & that’s when it happened. I was down.

bird getting the birdFortunately I wasn’t going too fast AND there was no traffic. My bike was fine, my shorts were just scuffed & except for some minor road rash, I was unharmed. But I still felt like crying.

I laid my bike in the ditch & sat on the shoulder of the road throwing rocks at that bird. She’d fly back & forth between her perch on a sign post & the ground near me. I talked to her, “I know you’re protecting your nest, but you can fuck all the way off.”

Finally I dusted myself off & saddled back up, feeling a touch paranoid. Apparently this type of harassment happens to loads of riders, runners, walkers & other outdoor enthusiasts. Why it’s taken so long to happen to me I’ll never know, but let this be a service announcement: they’re back. The assholes of summer are back.

***As a side note, in the last 9 days Bruce, Sean, Dan, myself & now Sam have all crashed, some of us harder & nastier than others, all of us fortunately ok. Let’s hope this is it for 2017 crashes for the Healthy Habits crew!!!

 

My boy’s biker butt a year later

What a difference a year makes. And how fast that time flies. Do I still have an attic full of zombie flies? Yes. Does my son still refuse to ride with me? NO!!! How on earth did the later happen? It’s all because of where and with whom I work!

At Healthy Habits Bicycle and Nutrition I was hired in February 2016 as a fledgling mechanic and all-around shop wench. The mechanics continues to be a slow journey, but the shop wenching? I got that shit down! (Except for the times I don’t and screw up and so, uh, yeah.)

ANYWAY….KidBoy’s willingness to join his dear old mother on a bike ride happened after I purchased a used Raleigh Coupe tandem from my boss. Immediately he was game for trying out the new ride and as a result was game for somewhat regular riding! We took to the bike path along Bettendorf & Davenport’s riverfront, to those awesome up and down two-lane roads of Moose Lake Country in Wisconsin, to the HILLY gravels surrounding Casa Reed Murrell, but his real enjoyment came from the shop rides!

group ride
Healthy Habits Monday group gravel ride…
tired gravel
Staring down death on the gravels near home…
moose lake ride
The group ride enhanced by Wisconsin’s Northwoods!

KidBoy’s riding style definitely follows more my desire forbobby shared misery vs. his father’s love for the solo slog so it’s no surprise those Monday night gravel rides lead by Healthy Habits staff were his favorite. He claims it was the post-ride fro-yo at PeachWave next door, but secretly he loved watching the parking lot antics of the mostly male “peloton,” specifically the wheelie magic of assistant shop manager Bobby Parker.

It’s still early in the season for many riders and I don’t foresee KidBoy’s schedule allowing him to join many shop rides until July due to track and baseball, but at least he’ll be ready to roll!

Zombie flies beat biker butt

I’m failing as a parent.

I know, I know…every parent thinks that, but this time it’s for real!

So how, exactly, am I failing. Drugs? Porn? Grades in the tank? Nope.

My son won’t bike with me. *gasp*little mac bike path

His resistance started two years ago when he and his sister were 11 and 13. It was spring break and I’d loaded up the bikes and headed to the Duck Creek Bike Path in Bettendorf. We had a history, us three, of rolling along on the Clinton and Fulton-Thompson bike paths. I wanted to increase our two-wheeled sojourns and introduce them to new views.

It was the first ride of the year so I knew it’d be short, but around 2 miles, KidBoy started to derail. His butt hurt. Despite several breaks, we eventually had tears…and a very brief ride. It pretty much set the tone for the year.Mo on trainer

So last year, saddled with new bikes and high hopes, the butt pain and tears continued. Not with his sister, though. Except for a literal run-in with a fence, KidGirl’s a natural, even on the trainer.

The kids wear all the proper gear, we’ve adjusted saddle height, tilt, even added one of those BS cushioned seat covers. But it’s clear, KidBoy doesn’t want to ride and is holding on to any excuse. While Marty and I both believe it’s a “time in the saddle” issue, our son is unwilling to put in the time to get his duff toughened up.

Today was their last day of spring break and since KidGirl was hitting the links with Marty, I offered KidBoy the following: an hour of relaxed cruising or sweeping the attic and ShopVac’ing a winter’s worth of nasty-ass dead and undead flies.

He chose the flies. FLIES!!! An afternoon in a gross, web-filled attic with a bazillion zombie flies vs. a glorious spring day in the fresh country air…20160329_131814

Last winter he made the comment, “Just because you like fitness doesn’t mean I like fitness.” Was he pushing my buttons? Of course. But was there a nugget of truth? A glimpse into his personal teenage angst? Probably. So what do I do???

A day at a time, a derailleur at a time

For 15 years I’ve swore & cried & sweated to overcome the ever-present urge to numb myself. As one of my Bitches told me, “Reed, you feel BIG.”

My emotions have been (& probably always will be) of the Herculean variety. My joy is usually brighter than rainbow-farting leprechauns while my darkness can be the most blinding, frightening black. It’s scary for me to feel . . . but scarier not to.

March 3rd 2001 was a warm, sunny day I spent riding Frankenbike by myself. I was hung over, ashamed of who I’d become & scared shitless. The unpredictability that ruled my life had shifted from carefree & footloose to dangerous & foreboding. When my unpredictability changed from fun-loving to WTF, I knew I was out of time & choices: I had to change.

Over the course of 5,479 days that necessary change would involve so much more than not drinking. It would require only that I change how I saw everything. That’s it, just everything. And if everything would just stay how I see it at exactly that moment, it’d be easy peasy, but it changes, constantly, & it’s very easy for me to fall back on the old familiar: scary, big feelings that leaving me cowering in corners, hiding, or zipping up the gorilla suit & kicking ass. Neither option is all that great.

For example, today’s March 3rd? It was the end of my second week working as a NEWBIE bike mechanic & I had to build a Salsa El Mariachi. Um, ok? As I unpacked it, the only thing I had going for me was knowing I had to attach the rear derailleur to the hanger. It was a struggle. A head-down, sweaty, brain-scrambling schooling in hydraulic disc brakes, front shock airing & the further nuances of limit screws. It was a scary fucking day. Turns out clutches aren’t just for old tractors & farm trucks. I felt dumb, inept, out of place, inadequate, old & just plain awful. This is the stuff the thirsty little fucker who lies deep down inside me starts excitedly rubbing its hands over.

After the thousandth time of pulling Bobby, Bruce & Adam away from their own projects & even Dan away from his birthday day off, I caught myself thinking, “The jig is up, Homes, you don’t belong here.” That’s when I thought it might happen, when I felt a little tingle behind the eyes. (Big feelings, folks, I still don’t handle them well.) Of course my brain went ape shit: “You’re crying?! You’re the only chick in this bike shop and you’re gonnawpid-0617_ov_baseball_tom_hanks_no_crying_in_baseball cry?!!!” I didn’t. I wanted to. But I didn’t.

Thank gawd I’m not newly sober. Thank gawd I have coaches and cheerleaders who continually remind me how to take my life “a day at a time.” Thank gawd I didn’t start crying until after I’d left the bike shop, when I could talk with another sober person who understood exactly this kind of crazy & how to cut through the thick emotion & remind me, “Dude! It’s all good! You’re learning! You’re new! They didn’t fire you!” Um, yay?

I still want to run, take the easy way out & just hide. But I’ve done that. And it sucks. And every time I do it, it sucks worse! And I’m 45 & I simply lack the constitution for that level of suckage! So I’ll keep at it, just as I’ve been taught, a day at a time, a mile at a time, a derailleur at a time.

The angel on a snowy road

I keep running last night’s car accident over and over in my mind. My 12-year-old son and I walked away from it, but I can’t get the “would’ve, could’ve” scenario out of my head.

We were driving home from his basketball game and the late afternoon mist had turned to a light, snowy slush. Highway 30 was completely fine, but when I turned north from Calamus onto a paved, county road, the car slipped around the turn. Nothing terrible, just a slight skid, but it was enough to remind me to go the speed limit. In hindsight, even 55 was too fast for the conditions.

My son and I were talking about, of all things, dental hygiene as he dug into the stash of “flossers” I keep in my car’s center console. He’d use one, put it in the garbage and then seconds later, pull out another, complaining there was still something between his teeth. I told him to pull down the visor and check in the mirror, but when he did so, the mirror didn’t light up. And that’s when it happened.

Just as I was about to reach over and check if there was a switch on the mirror I felt the car drift into the slush in the middle of the empty road. I took my foot off the gas and applied the break. Feeling how hard we started sliding, I knew the car wasn’t coming out of this so I stopped breaking and tried to steer into the slide, hoping I could keep it on the road long enough to slow down.

When I felt us hit the left shoulder, the backend of the car whipped around and that’s when I threw my arm across my son’s chest and believed the car would  start rolling. I thought I told KidBoy, “Hang on,” or “Get ready,” but he said all I kept repeating was “Ohmygodohmygodohmygod” until we stopped. What I remember thinking was, “Please let him be ok. Please don’t let him get crunched. Please don’t let a fence post come through his window. Please! Please! Please!”

Melodramatic? Well, it’s been many years since I’ve been in a car accident, thankfully. During those events, the one thing I always remembered was worrying about myself, hoping I’d live, hoping I wouldn’t be injured. Until last night I’d never been in an accident with another person. Specifically, I’ve never been in an accident with my child. Last night, as the car spun out, sliding backwards down the 12-foot embankment and backending into a culvert before coming to rest at the edge of a field, my son was the only thing I thought about: “Let him be ok. Let him be ok. Let him be ok.” I don’t ever recall feeling so scared in my life, and none of that fear was for myself.

When the car stopped and I realized we were still rightside up, no windows broken, no dashboards crumpled, I asked and he verified that he was ok. EVERYTHING. WAS. OK. As we climbed out of our seats, I dialed my husband who was following with our daughter a couple miles behind us. And soon several vehicles were stopping to see if we needed help.

 We were both shaken up, of course, but we were fine. The car stayed firmly on its wheels, never launching off the road and down into the ditch. It was as if some force was pressing down on the car and keeping it right sided.

Once the tow truck and body shop were contacted, we gathered up our stuff and piled into my husband’s truck. And that’s when it hit me, when I realized where I’d crashed. Some people will think it’s weird, but I can’t ignore the coincidence: I crashed in the same area in which a dear friend was killed in a single car crash our senior year of high school.20160126_192219-1

Was Aaron with my son and I, keeping the car from rolling, making sure we slid backwards down the embankment and not nose diving headfirst into the culvert? I’m apt to think so. I keep remembering how firmly the car felt connected to the earth, how even in my seat, I felt pulled downward. I’m sure there are all sorts of scientific explanations for these sensations, but I’m no fool.

It’s been over 27 years since Aaron’s accident. Today, right now, I’m hearing my son up in his bedroom smack talk with friends over Skype while playing Minecraft. He’s groaning and yelling and giggling and sounding absolutely beautiful. I’m not a religious person, but I believe in the unexplainable. Was there some force, some being, an angel with us on that road last night? In my heart, I know he was . . . thank you Aaron.

The It in losing my shit

I never know when it’s going to happen, but when it does? Look out.

What’s the It? The It is “losing my shit.”

It’s probably been building for a few weeks given the b.s. time of year. What time of year, winter? When the decreased sunlight depletes my Vitamin D resources and leaves me susceptible to Seasonal Affect Disorder?

No, I’m talking the time of year that seems to happen every damn January when I show up at the Y at my normal time and suddenly have to park 3 miles away because of everyone’s bullshit New Year’s resolutions;

The time of year when you have to show up a half hour early to Body Pump to be sure you get a bar and aren’t stuck in the front row six inches away from the instructor;

That time of year when Dan Marino, Marie Osmond and now fuckin’ Oprah Winfrey are peddling weight loss deals and I’m supposed to be cleansing, eating clean and counting my calories. Fuck that shit. Fuck all that shit. Hand me the Doritos.

But this is all normal, right? This certainly isn’t the IT that made me lose my shit, right? Right. My tipping point came cloaked in fur: cats and dogs, folks. Cats and dogs. Mainly dogs, but the cats played a role, too.

Without getting into the dirty deets, a couple weeks ago we volunteered to foster a female dachshund. She arrived in our care a little distressed, a little malnourished, a little wigged out. We’ve tried to keep our door open to animals in need, but I gotta be honest. At my core I am a cat person. Dogs are too needy. And this little weiner dog definitely needed love. Lots of love. (And let’s just say two of the three house cats are p-i-s-s-e-d over this entire situation.)

Sure there are the accidents one must attend to, but the shit started getting lost last night when my husband treated our refugee with some gnarly smelling herbal flea treatment that stunk up the house. Upon realizing the stench, he promptly gave her a bath, but once that smell got in my nose, she may as well have been sprayed by a skunk. The stench stuck. And it was bedtime. And she’s taken to sleeping in our bed.

Despite my husband’s attempt to lure her into our son’s bed, she knows where Menopausal Mom sleeps. And so, after my husband fell into an unconscious sleep, sure as shit “tap tap tap tap tap tap tap” go the wee little toe nails as our stinky refugee skips across the hall and into our bedroom. She scampered, “tap tap tap tap tap tap tap,” from one side of the bed to the other, whining for someone to pick her up so she can nose her way under the covers and snuggle down.

This still isn’t the It. The It would happen eight hours later after I’d finally fallen nose blind and asleep after an awful night of stink-induced insomnia. And I’d woken to the “tap tap tap tap tap tap tap” and whining of a cold refugee because my husband had taken her was downstairs when he woke and promptly forgot about her whilst enjoying his coffee and morning computer time.

This is the It: I storm downstairs only to find puddles of pee. Dog pee on the floor next to a clean pile of unfolded laundry and cat pee on the counter . . . right. next to. the fucking coffee pot.

*sigh* Happy Monday, folks.

Shall I bring the tigers?

What a week…sandwiched between a childhood friend’s mom dying Monday and a coffee club member suddenly dying Thursday, a badass buddy learned he has cancer….everywhere. What the fuck?

So last night, with Marty working late, I made both kids sit and watch a movie with me. The kids were grumpy because I refused to let them squirrel away in their rooms. I was just sad.

We considered “Elf,” decided on “The Book of Life,” but when the DVD player crapped out we were left with “Grown Ups 2” airing on the FX channel. By the time the credits rolled, we were all headed to our respective beds, barely able to muster a begrudged ‘night. (“Good work team! Yaaaay FAMILY!”)

I woke early to work out, then drank a big cuppa NOPE and promptly returned to bed. And that’s when shit got weird.

First, I dreamt my badass buddy and I were at a baseball stadium talking about his shitty news. He wanted his services held there with The Nadas playing. As we talked, we casually watched two large, puffy, drooling Bengal tigers playfully maul people in nearby seats. As we watched, he asked, “Reed, will you bring the tigers?”

I must’ve stirred because that dream promptly ended and a second, more disturbing dream set in. It was sweaty and dirty, took place on a golf course and involved
image
running hydration belts and Petzl headlamps. Apparently it’s what happens when I watch artists like Peaches on a belly full of Adam Sandler, Chris Rock and Nick Swardson, and then skip out on an early morning run.

In light of all that, bringing the Bengal tigers to a stadium service for a badass? Consider it done.

Why I believe in Yesterday

When all else fails, count your gratefuls. At least that’s what I’m told.

So what’s mine? Yesterday.

My Oct. 29th post resonated with a few of you. Your words of encouragement were unexpected and more than lovely, they were loving. For that love, I thank you. Normally I view myself as strong, self-assured and focused. But a skittering, nervousness descended when I read the responses to my admission of the broken relationship I have with food and my body.

And then last week — a peach of a week — came to be. One friend died from the effects of alcoholism, another was diagnosed with cancer while a third spent the week at the Mayo Clinic . . . and there I sat, hazy, directionless and obsessing about the dregs of the candy bowl. Surely Milky Way minis were not the answer.12194708_968937209840613_1809651746297937671_o

I hoped the weekend would be better. One of my favorite cousins would wed his bride and the morning of the nuptials I’d run the Galena Lead Rush Half Marathon with two of my close girlfriends! But then my son KidBoy got sick. And then during the early miles of the race I realized I was sick! My stomach began to ache, my head swim, sweat rained off the bill of my ball cap. Despite my pleas for the girls to go on without me, they refused, consoling me that it was probably due to the difficult week.

I hated hearing this. I wasn’t the one with the difficult week. My world was still the same, relatively, while my friends and their families? Their worlds spiraled into deeper unknowns. Me? I was schlepping the hills around Galena.

But there was the wedding, right? A time for fun and celebration? Nope! KidBoy and I were out. We tried to make the reception, but while talking with a guest, sweat started streaming from my scalp down the sides of my face and dripping off my chin. It was pretty sexy . . . and clear neither KidBoy nor I should be there.

Sunday? Was Sunday any better? Nope! Filled with toxic eye candy as KidBoy and I watched “The Shining” and The Walking Dead. As a simple horror movie, neither of us found “The Shining” scary, but as Stephen King explained in a 2013 NPR interview, “The Shining” is what happens when an alcoholic stops drinking and doesn’t get help. Whhhat?!!! That’s flippin’ nuts! There really is something to the idea what you read, watch, hear is mood effecting.

My guard was down and my ego decided “Game On!” By Monday morning I felt physically better, managing a double workout at the Y, but mentally? I was screwed. I couldn’t get “The Shining” out of my head. I kept putting myself in the Overlook Hotel and in the shoes of Jack Torrence. My early sobriety was pretty ugly, but at about four months sober, I experienced a 24-hour period of complete insanity, a period when the Monster came to visit my 1-year-old daughter. I was never physically violent with her, but at my darkest hour, I was the screaming, raging Jack swinging an axe. “Hereeee’s Jenny!”

I try to keep my memory of the Monster caged within the context that it was what brought about my complete surrender. Still, it makes my skin crawl. I don’t often let myself go there. But there I was, stuck in my car driving home from the Y remembering my darkest time, and I realize I’m in an absolute shit storm! I completely started to freak out. I phoned my husband who tried to calm me with soothing, supportive words. But I was still feeling Looney Tunes so I called my cousin Amanda who came at me with a disbelieving “Jenny! What the hell?! You’re not that person anymore!!!”

It was just the clobbering I needed. With a strength that cut through all the emotional bullshit in which I was caught, Amanda jolted me into 2015 where I’m fairly sane, reasonably whole and 99 percent not the Monster. And that’s when I could breathe again. That’s when I could be thankful. That’s when I started looking for ways to help my friends and family and get off that gross pity pot!

And just like Paul McCartney so soothingly croons, “Yesterday . . . all my troubles seemed so far away,” Monday passed and Yesterday came forth with a joyful sound, that of Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats performing “I Need Never Get Old” on Monday night’s The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. BOOM!

And with that beautiful R&B pounding in my head, I spent the morning with my three-year-old niece, giving my sister who’s eight months pregnant, a chance to rest . . .12240904_10153360082553802_3231320938977393395_o

Suffering serious Cuteness Burn, my day could’ve ended then. But there was more! I spent the evening with girlfriends discussing the rationality of juicing 25 pounds of carrots a week! Carrots? Really? Actually it was our chance to circle the wagons around our beautiful Shelly, reminding her she is not facing cancer alone, but with an army. That we shall be her ears in which to scream and her pressure valve from which to release frustration, disbelief and fear. We shall be her peanut gallery, her cheerleaders and, if the carrots turn her orange, we shall laugh at her and call her “Pumpkin.”

All this is why I believe in Yesterday.

Reed All About It returns. . .again

In the eight months since I left my Saturday post as a newspaper columnist for The Observer in DeWitt, Iowa, I’ve floundered. I’m not a perfect candidate for structured 8-5 work, but I’m TERRIBLE at self-employment. Maybe it’s fear, maybe it’s laziness, maybe it’s brain chemicals, but within six weeks of leaving the paper, I wasn’t writing and I was in trouble.

Who knew writing (or not writing) would foster such pain. My trouble was in the mental department. See, my Saturday gig for the paper was a simple little column about whatever was going on during that week of my life. And I quit, abruptly. Mind you I have no regrets about leaving the paper. New ownership was taking it in an uncomfortable direction. My family was supportive, but I had no game plan. It was a classic case of “I didn’t know what I didn’t know.”

Today's writing partner. Ever my protector, Clyde has not strayed from my side.
Today’s writing partner. Ever my protector, Clyde has not strayed from my side.

When I left the paper in February, I was in the midst of what I preferred to call rigorous “brain training,” forcing disciplining myself to put healthier foods and liquids in my body. Ignorant of the brain’s power, once I stopped writing, much of my rational, healthy thinking stopped as well.

I found myself binging, sometimes on junk food, but usually on rice cakes and crackers, then crouching over a toilet, vomiting. Too real? My apologies. I wish I could clean it up and make it sound better. I can’t. Physically my body had never felt stronger. I was training for a full summer of racing which included two half Ironman events. I was swimming and biking, running, planking and lifting weights. But I couldn’t swim, bike, run or lift enough to keep my mind quiet. And I wasn’t writing.

Without the writing, I wasn’t going inward. I wasn’t listening for that “still, small voice.” Rather, I was keeping everything on the surface, “controllable,” noting every good calorie and bad gram of fat, every good swim and every bad run. And when I’d look at myself, all I saw was failure and obesity. I couldn’t see the strength and the power. I only saw rigid food rules and an inability to work hard enough. No matter how much I ate, it wasn’t enough. No matter how far I ran, it wasn’t enough. No matter how heavy I lifted or how long I held a plank, it was never enough. But the purging? As crazy as it sounds, I’d feel so good after doing it. And yet I also knew the brief reprieve vomiting gave me was a complete and utter delusion.

I started dropping little hints about the darkness to a couple of friends, only in texts, never in person. By March I was scared I’d reached a point where I had to binge and purge. I wanted to be strong and healthy! I didn’t want to be chained to the terrible pattern of overeating and vomiting! And that’s when I found myself telling one of my sisters. It wasn’t planned. I had every intention of keeping it a secret, but I told on myself and got involved with a therapist.

Since March I haven’t made myself sick, but I’ve wanted to. When I shove awful junk food in my mouth, at the time it’s as if I go mindless and am watching myself, knowing I shouldn’t be eating, but unable to stop. And then when I’m done? When the reality of what I just ate sinks in? I want it OUT so badly. Take today, for example! My lunch? I ate a bunch of Halloween candy and a full canister of Pringles. What the hell?!!!!!! I had a great 6 mile run this morning as well as a session with my therapist and yet it’s taking everything in me not to give up and just walk to the bathroom. First world problems . . .

Obviously I’m not better and there’s so many things tangled in this knot! Just this morning I listened to the 26 October 2015 interview of Gloria Steinem by Terry Gross for NPR’s Fresh Air and how Steinem, a self-proclaimed ‘foodaholic’, at age 81 still can’t have certain foods in her house. So will I ever get better? Will I ever be cured? Doubtful. Gross quoted Steinem’s own words to her, “I’m a fat woman who’s not fat at the moment.” In the interview, Steinem admits, “I’m still a sugar junkie. I still find it very difficult. I can’t keep certain kinds of food in the house because they talk to me . . . I cannot keep ice cream or bread or anything too rewarding in the house.”

How depressing. I crave balance almost as much as a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. But if it were just about the Reese’s or the Pringles or the bread, the solution would be simple: don’t eat it. Just like with alcoholism, right? Don’t drink and life gets better, right? Wrong. In 2001 when I quit drinking, my life got worse until I had no fight left, until I was beat up enough to start listening for that “still, small voice,” until I could hear what people were trying to teach me. I suppose my food issue is no different. Fuck.

So I guess that’s it? I’m not making myself vomit, but I’m still binging? If I can frame my food issue in the context of drinking, it’s possible for me to have hope. If I keep working at it, I’ll get better, right? Hopefully. Hopefully I’ll gain a stronger, healthier sense of self. And I guess to some degree that’s already begun. I can’t see my day-to-day growth, but when I look back at where I was in March, you bet your ass I’m in a much better place. And most importantly, I’m writing again.

. . . whew! What a heavy way to restart “Reed All About It,” eh? If prior readers know anything about me, it’s that I’ll always be real. Who knows what future posts will bring, but I will never offer fakery . . . so please come back, and thank you.