Monday, April 28, 2014
Saturday, April 26, 2014
|Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon route|
Friday, April 25, 2014
Support Scarlett's Fundraiser for MSF
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Tuesday, April 1 (26 days to Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon)April Fool! My left leg is being an ass--it's an anatomical miracle, but not a particularly happy one. I've been "recovering" from what is probably an overuse injury in my thigh (gracilis, iliopsoas, piriformis, for those who need detail) for the last three or four weeks. To be more accurate, I've spent a couple of weeks in denial and a couple attempting to cooperate with recovery. I'm slower and weaker than I was a month ago, and it's completely frustrating. Two weeks ago, I ran 20 miles. Today, I set out to run 10 miles after work but only made it to seven with a combination of slow running and walking. I'm telling myself not to panic.
I'm walking/running a tricky tightrope between not getting enough rest to recover and getting too much and losing fitness. I keep declaring I will run this damn thing, but I confess to some tearful moments when I'm not sure I believe me. Some of my friends can't fathom why I'm still heading toward my goal. The runners understand, but I get that it looks crazy to others. All I can say is running has become a part of me over the last seven months. It's a relationship, and it's given me way more than I've given it. I've failed enough at relationships in the past to try something other than throwing in the towel this time around. Running and I are going through a rough patch; that's all. I'm confident we'll find a way to work through it, fall back in love again. Some of the excitement and shiny romance is admittedly a little worn of late, but these things go in waves, right? I'm holding out for the next one.
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
|My first Half-Marathon, |
The Duel in Wichita Falls,
January 2014. Time: 2:17. Pace: 10:31.
It's 33 days to the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, and the truth is I'm struggling. I got a little behind on my mileage a few weeks ago and then pushed too hard to catch up. I made the classic error of trying to squeeze in all the missed runs rather than calmly picking up where I left off. The result? A not insignificant amount of pain and more familiarity with the biology of the human thigh than I ever planned to have.
It's 33 days to the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, and I'm working through injury. So far, I've tried denial, Googling, foam rolling, and a sports massage. Of the four, the sports massage has been the most effective but caused the most bruises. As one of my pace leaders only half-joked, "Never go see your gynecologist within a couple of weeks of a sports massage--he'll ask you whether you're in an abusive relationship!" Don't be fooled by the word "massage" in there: any resemblance to a gentle rub with soothing oils is a linguistic deception. The only thing to which I can compare the experience is childbirth--but without the pain killers and cups of tea.
It's 33 days to the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, and I've trained too hard and come too far to turn back now. The hard-headed Yorkshire lass inside me who tells me to "grit yer teeth and run through the pain" has not been serving me too well as a sports therapist, so I'm dialing down and easing more gently back into my miles until the old iliopsoas stops screaming. Meanwhile, I'm reminding myself of how I built to my first Half Marathon not too many months ago--lots of long, slow, easy hours at sunrise and sunset, nights at the lake when nothing moved but wind on water, indeterminate wildlife in the bushes--and me. Running is easy really. It's just like life: you put down one foot, and then the other, and then another, and then another... And then you just keep doing that forever--or until the finish line, whichever comes first!
It's 33 days to the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, and I've got this. Distance running, I've learned, is only a little about the iliopsoas and the road--it's mostly in the mind, and they don't make expensive shoes for that. You see, I'm not planning on running 26.2 miles really. I'm running five, and then five more, and then five more, and then five more... and then just to the next tree, the next bend in the road, the end of the song... And then, of course, the one after that...
It's 33 days to the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, and I'll see you at the finish line.
I run for Doctors Without Borders: click here to view the fundraising page and see the list of awesome donors. And thanks!
Monday, January 6, 2014
You can give here: http://events.doctorswithoutborders.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donordrive.participant&participantID=1600&referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fscarlettswhirled%2Eblogspot%2Ecom%2F%3Fbadge%3D200x420thermo
Sunday, December 15, 2013
It's almost time for our annual Boxing Day Bash. If you're reading, you're invited. Great company, yummy food and mulled wine, laughter, music, maybe stories and poetry, maybe dancing--it turns out differently every year, but it's always lovely.
Boxing Day is traditionally the day, back in the old country, when the lords of the manor would serve the people who spent all year serving them. It's a national holiday in England, but hardly anyone remembers why. For me, it's a time to celebrate my wonderful friends!
If you can bring one thing, bring your lovely self--and a friend or partner, of course. Two things? Add something for the table. Three things? Bring something canned for the North Texas Food Bank.
Boxing Day is December 26, 8 till late, but come and go as you please. Thank you for being part of my whirled. (Pic right, with daughter Joy. Lizzy misses Boxing Day this year because she's in England visiting her gran.)
Sunday, December 1, 2013
"Scarlett is not good at PE."
So read the damning indictment on a high school report way back when, as my mother, still laughing, reminded me on Skype just the other day. (The English never really bought into that whole positive reinforcement for the kiddos and give 'em all a trophy American thing.) And yes, I was that girl, the one the teams fought over NOT picking and then banished to an esoteric corner of the playing field known as "Left Wing" where I paced miserably in the rain for an hour or more, twice a week, hoping for as little action as possible and generally getting it.
You see, I have a natural reaction when a ball comes flying towards me: I duck. It has always seemed the sensible course to take. Ditto people with rounders bats and hockey sticks. So high school PE was a miserable time for me before I learned to skip class and head down the woods behind the playing fields to think existential thoughts and smoke soggy Woodbines bought from the sweetshop on the corner for 5p a go.
I had not been prepared for the horrors of phys. ed. at Holmfirth High School by my mentors at Nabb where the formidable Miss Bland (who was anything but) had us run about barefoot in our knickers and vests in the school hall twice a week while she praised us from behind her lorgnettes in what I now recognize as execrable French. During a five-minute freestyle session at the beginning of each class, students would show off their individual prowess--climbing ropes, juggling, balancing on their hands, running fast around the room... It was at this time that I perfected the one physically impressive feat of my childhood: standing on one leg motionless. I believe that year's report read: "Scarlett is quite good at standing on one leg!"
All of which is just to say that this running thing I've fallen into lately has taken me by complete surprise. I began training in August, completed my first 5K in October, and two weeks ago, at the age of 47, won my first ever trophy.
I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I began with health and fitness goals in mind, but I've pretty much already left those dreams in the dust. Now I run because it feels a part of who I am. I run before dawn and after dark. I run in the sun and in the rain. When the thermometer shows temps below freezing, I put on a hat and run. On the good days--and there are so many!--I run for the sheer joy of it. Yes, that's me with the maniac grin, rounding the corner by the boathouse, feeling like I'm flying and caring less and less how it looks. On the hard days--and, of course, there are a few--I tell myself, "You come from a family of dogged people. Anyone can put one foot in front of the other, and then another, and then another..." The sense of accomplishment that comes from the hard runs spills over into other, more complicated parts of my life. "You can do this because you could do that," goes my internal monologue. And it helps.
Yesterday, I ran 10 miles straight--it doesn't even sound to my own ears like it can possibly be true, but there it is. My marathon training plan called for 9.4 miles, but it was so close to 10 that when my app. intoned, "You have reached your goal," I answered back, "Like hell I have!" and sped up. At the disapproving 10-mile alert, I careened off the trail into the grass and flopped onto my back to the amusement of several passers by out for a stroll at the lake.
In the month of November, I ran a total of 93.67 miles, so at this point, I would like to add an addendum to those long-ago school reports. Let the record now show:
"Scarlett is not bad at running."
Please consider a donation to my Doctors Without Borders fundraiser:
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Emergency teams from Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) have been in Cebu city since Saturday. MSF is strengthening its team (currently 23) and there will be a total of 102-107 staff – including doctors, nurses, surgeons, logisticians, psychologists and water and sanitation experts – on the ground in the next few days.Please consider donating $13 for the 13 miles of the April '14 Big D Half Marathon I'm training for. Funds donated at my MSF page (see link below) go directly and immediately to Doctors Without Borders.
Friday, October 18, 2013
I began my early morning sweat-and-stagger routine in the middle of August when the air was hot and thick like treacle. As the mornings turned cooler and the sun rose later, I learned to run with extra layers and a light at my back so pre-dawn cyclists didn't curse as they nearly collided with me in the dark.
This is the third time I've tried the program but the first time I've finished it. A hilarious but painful roller skating accident on Easter morning put paid to my initial attempt (and my figure-skating dreams) as I came hurtling over the bridge by the dog park, zooming round the corner, only to land in an ignominious heap by a group of holiday picnickers. I was in too much pain to continue running for some time after that. The second time, I abandoned the program to fly to England and be with my mum who was very sick. I guess the third time really is a charm.
When I began all this, running was just the method; the goal was to get fitter, leaner, and healthier. In the last nine weeks, I've logged 78 miles and dropped a lot of pounds, so I guess I'm well on my way to "Mission Accomplished." Along the way, though, I've fallen in love with the feel of feet pounding on pavement in the dark as the sun hits its snooze button and then rises, sometimes a little reluctantly, over the smokey lake. These days fitness is just a happy by-product of what I'm doing; I've graduated from the couch. Next week I start training for my first 10K, but this time the journey and the destination are one. This time, I'm running just to run.
October 19 Postscript
2013 Komen-Dallas Race for the Cure. My very first race: placed 410th overall, 20th in my age group, running 5K in 32 minutes, 49 seconds. Not too shabby!
Thursday, April 25, 2013
I dashed out of work at the earliest opportunity this afternoon and headed down to the Crow Collection of Asian Art with a friend to watch visiting monks from Drepung Loseling Monastery in Tibet creating a beautiful sand mandala.
I felt a certain urgency since the exquisite artwork, which takes a painstaking week to create out of colored grains of sand, will be destroyed in just a couple of days, the sand swept up and poured into Turtle Creek, a startling and beautiful symbol of the impermanence of all things.
For a silent definition of irony, go stand there as the monks build this beautiful work of art grain by grain, calmly, unattached, knowing it won't last beyond its completion. And then notice the visitors--myself included--fighting the metaphor as we take our pictures, seeking to make the impermanent permanent...
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
(From Russell Brand's eloquent article in the Guardian on the passing of Maggie Thatcher)
I keep hearing retrospectives about how strong and wonderful our fearless leader was, but I remember covering the miners' and seamen's strikes as a young reporter. I remember picket lines and soup kitchens, angry rhetoric on both sides, violence, tears, stubbornness, and betrayal. Margaret Thatcher didn't just break the unions; she broke the people. A million of them never worked again.
I remember the cliché in all its ugly reality: the rich got richer, the poor got poorer, and all of us got a little more selfish--even if we called it something else.
I also remember standing outside the South African embassy with protesters at a time when Nelson Mandela was still rotting in prison and Thatcher was steadfastly refusing to condemn apartheid.
A woman has died, and that's a loss for those who knew and loved her, so for the last couple of days, I've held my tongue and said sorry to the universe each time something snarky rose to mind. But I can't listen to this nonstop outpouring of flattering eulogy anymore without comment.
Does no one remember the hunger strikers that she actually allowed to starve to death? 10 of them? They had families too, but I didn't hear much about them. I only heard the Iron Lady was not for turning.
My point is not to celebrate Mrs Thatcher's death like those who are campaigning to get "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" to number 1 in the British charts. My point is to offer a little qualification to all the eulogizing, a few reminders of the way things were. Our society tends to clean up its dead and whitewash their history, and it's happening again, right before our eyes. The trouble is, if we don't allow history to be what it really is, in all its messy inconsistency, how can we learn anything from it? How can we do better next time a victorious leader offers us fast ways to climb to prosperity on the backs of the very poorest among us?
Margaret Thatcher came to power as I was turning teenage. She stayed in power long enough for her policies to be the focus of some of my work as a young journalist covering the miners' and seamen's strikes. I wasn't watching policies at play in those days. I was watching families go hungry on the picket lines, proud fathers who had been lifelong breadwinners become broken versions of their former selves--sold out both by their own leaders and their government.
It's true, as my friend John points out, that things couldn't go on as they were back in the late seventies. There was a need for more fiscal restraint in government if the country wasn't to go completely broke, and Thatcher turned a tide that likely needed turning. It wasn't popular, and it was probably, in some respects, pretty brave. But my problem with Thatcher's reign (and it was a reign) was a lot to do with the way that she did things--so harshly, so uncompromisingly, even cruelly. I wonder if some of that was possibly fallout from trying to prove herself in such a male world, even though she never admitted that was an issue.
I have been remembering back to those days of riots and strikes. I was the newest reporter on the Dover Express in the early eighties--and for a while the only woman in the entire office who was not a secretary. Some of those men put me through hell trying to find out whether I was up to the job, and it never occurred to me to complain about sexism or harassment. In those days, you just sucked it up and got on with it if you wanted to be in the game. That was the Thatcher way, and though I never saw her as a role model, I went about building my own career pretty much the same way: ask no favors, give no inch, win on merit alone. Though I was never much of a mover or shaker like Mrs T., who rose through the ranks of the Old Boys' Network with a speed and surety that angered and astonished them all, several of those men who put me through hell eventually did answer to me. The very faint parallels were certainly unconscious at the time, but I can see them today, however unwillingly.
Let's be clear: Thatcher never broke the glass ceiling for her sex, whatever the eulogizers may say, and she certainly didn't pave much of a way for the women of my generation in terms of equalizing legislation. What she did was simply refuse to acknowledge the ceiling was even there. She rose right through it like an unsmiling Mary Poppins doppelgänger on steroids, and whether you liked the Iron Lady or loathed her, you couldn't help but assume if she could do it, so could you.
Margaret Thatcher was a woman from hell and a helluva woman. She ignored terrible truths and wrought miraculous change. Though many will speculate, no one but she will ever really know what drove her. People are complicated, motives are messy, and history is an inconsistent muddle. Let's pay it--and Mrs T--the compliment of acknowledging all of it.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Just to balance the equation, it should be noted that in the closing hours of 2011, Politifact presented a report card on the Republican presidential candidates. When the big prize goes to the guy who only lies 75% of the time, it's not exactly cause for celebration.
Don't mistake me. This isn't a partisan post, and it's not about shadenfreude. The problem's systemic. Will the face of politics change any time soon? Nah. As Eddie Izzard likes to say, it "tastes of human, sir!"
And that's the problem.
I'm a deeply political animal. I care about social justice issues. I still believe the old adage that the test of a civilized society is in how it treats its most vulnerable citizens, and I still agree with Gandhi who, when asked what he thought about western civilization, replied, straight-faced, "It would be a good idea!"
But I'm stuck. I'm stuck in the widening gap between my ideals and an unsustainable deficit, between what I like to think of as humanity and our all too evident humanness. I'm stuck watching the train-wreck that occurs when Nietzsche's warning is ignored--again, and again, and again. "He who fights monsters should see to it that, in the process, he doesn't become a monster."
It doesn't work to "take arms against a sea of troubles" if, in doing so, we abandon the very things we are fighting for. The need for expediency is, perhaps, the oldest of the "old lies": we must torture in order to get the upper hand against a regime that violates human rights; we must impose a death penalty to show that killing is wrong; we must lie and cheat our way into a place of political power in order to fix the mess that other liars created.
Really? And how's that been working for us so far?
In the classroom, I'm frequently faced with knee-jerk, sound-bite answers to complicated questions. The most challenging part of my job is opening spaces where students will dare to think, truly question, crack open the door of an inner prejudice just a little to let some air and light in, so they can attempt to work out complicated responses to a complex world for themselves. Why is it so hard for them to imagine nuance? Why is it so hard for all of us?
It's easy to point the finger at the pants-on-fire politicians and to rave about how bad they are. What's harder is to admit that the politician we disagree with has shown an admirable commitment to his marriage and family, the one we love and who had a great handle on the economy treated his wife like crap, and the one whose faith--or lack of it--we can't understand might have some ideas worth considering. When we refuse a complex world of nuance, we force our politicians into playing caricatures of their true selves--and then, of course, we beat them up for giving us the government we deserve.
I'm not going to stop voting. I'm not going to stop caring. And I'm not going to stop arguing for what I believe is right anytime soon. But I begin to suspect we can only change society as we change ourselves... and that happens slowly, haltingly, sometimes with laughter, sometimes with tears, as we return to the place of integrity again and again, remember who we truly are.
I was chatting with friends the other evening about my crazy youth, when I abandoned my career and flew out to Romania after the revolution, determined to make a difference, to change the world, or at least some part of it. Who did I think I was: Batman? Mother Theresa? The greatest thing I learned was that change is slow, and incremental, and grindingly difficult.
In 2012, I'm not looking to change the world through grand gestures or partisan politics. Instead, I'm going looking for it in all my favorite places: in the middle of lakes, through the wisdom of poetry, in the laughter of friends and the colors of sky, on empty, wooded trails, and in challenging poses on my yoga mat.
From those spaces, I hope to come back to engage in my complex world with just a little more balance, just a little more integrity each time than the time before... That's how I'm going to try to change the world in 2012. It's only a practice--I make no promises.
The last word of 2011 goes to T. S. Eliot in this extract from "Little Gidding" in which he tempts us with "A condition of complete simplicity / (Costing not less than everything)." Yes, please!
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
For the first time in my life, I'm beginning to feel some sympathy for my primary school teacher Miss Bland's preferred method of solving conflicts. She would haul arguing students to the front of the class, warn them that she was going to "smack heads together in a minute," finish her lesson, and then calmly do as she had promised.
I remember one time, my adversary and I thought we could outwit her, and we "made friends" quietly and worriedly as we waited by the blackboard where Miss Bland kept her long-distance missiles (otherwise known as chalks and erasers, objects which frequently found--and left!--their mark on student foreheads).
When Miss Bland finally turned to us to mete out punishment, we told her it was all over, and we had already said sorry to each other.
"Good!" she told us, and then whacked our heads soundly together anyway, leaving a ringing in our ears that lasted all through playtime.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating the whacking of children, but I'm starting to wonder about the whacking of politicians...
Picture of Harry Reid and John Boehner: By JIM KUHNHENN. Featured in Huffington Post article "John Boehner, Harry Reid Debt Ceiling Plans Create Stalemate In Congress."
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Monday, February 14, 2011
"Well, I won't be one to tell you that torture never works. I've had friends who have given me examples of when torture did work, but I don't care because to me this isn't about efficacy. We have other things that work a hundred percent of the time like chemical weapons and flamethrowers. We don't use them.You can buy the book here. Thank you, Mr Alexander, you made my Valentines Day! ♥
"And the reason we don't use them isn't an efficacy argument, it's because it's against our morality, or because the laws of war have determined that they cause unnecessary human suffering, and we've outlawed them. And there's no exceptions to that.
"I think my big disappointment is the shift in priorities from an America that stands for principles to an America that stands for security. My oath of office, when I took it as an officer in the United States military, didn't mention security. It mentioned allegiance and defending the Constitution, which prohibited torture when we ratified the convention against torture and other provisions within the Constitution."
(Pictures courtesy of St. Martin's Press and via NPR.)
Friday, February 4, 2011
The cat that lives on our porch has been having a chilly time of it. After weeks of refusing all approaches and offers of food, it condescended to accept a blanket yesterday but is otherwise unmoved. Apparently, those big macho footballers in town for the Super Bowl are not quite as hardy as SuperCat. Playing outdoors at SMU was just too much for them to face, poor things! "It's a little too cold for me," linebacker Clay Matthews said (ESPN). Oh please!
Mind you, I'm staying indoors today after yesterday's little adventure saw me skidding down a hill, bouncing off curbs, and spinning 180 degrees before sliding to a stop facing oncoming traffic--I was narrowly missed by a truck behind me that also lost control but managed to slip past me onto the sidewalk. I've about had it with automatics. This wouldn't happen with proper cars with gear sticks!
Meanwhile, anyone else have a problem with the fact that bad weather and rolling blackouts meant two hospitals lost power this week but the stadium for the Superbowl was kept at a balmy 72 degrees?
Monday, January 17, 2011
"Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline." Thank you for your life and legacy, Dr. King. I hope enough of us are still listening...
Friday, October 29, 2010
Good Lord! Can you beat that? Aldi's egg box has a Bible verse inside it. ?!?
(I'm waiting for someone to quote Matt. 11:30: "His yolk is easy..." ) Seriously, though, folks, separation of church and supermarket much?
Monday, October 18, 2010
November 2--election day--is my birthday.
For my 42nd, you gave me a new president. Thank you ♥
All I want for my 44th is Bill White in the governor's chair.
Early voting begins today--when you vote early, you can vote at any location, so click the link below and find somewhere convenient near you.
I'm feeling lucky, punks. Make my day!
Friday, July 2, 2010
A repost from crooksandliars, Fri, 06/11/2010 - 12:50 — BaScOmBe:
A woman in a hot air balloon realized she was lost. She lowered her altitude and spotted a man in a boat below. She shouted to him, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."
The man consulted his portable GPS and replied, "You're in a hot air balloon, approximately 30 feet above ground elevation of 2,346 feet above sea level. You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude.
"She rolled her eyes and said, "You must be an Obama Democrat."
"I am," replied the man. "How did you know?"
"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct. But I have no idea what to do with your information, and I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help to me."
The man smiled and responded, "You must be a Republican."
"I am," replied the balloonist. "How did you know?"
"Well," said the man, "you don't know where you are or where you are going. You've risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. You're in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but somehow, now it's my fault."
Thursday, April 29, 2010
England and the US have been famously described as "two nations separated by a common language" (variously attributed to Oscar Wilde and Winston Churchill, depending on which unreliable website you choose to believe). I think the cultural differences may actually run a little deeper than mere semantics, as I tried to explain to my friend Richard the other day on facebook.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Coming from Great Britain, an Imperialist country with a shameful history of colonialism, I'm not a supporter of invasions in general or the 2003 one justified by those elusive (some might say imaginary) weapons of mass destruction in particular. However, as I love to tell my students, I frequently learn most from those whose positions are very different from my own. This evening I learned some very positive effects that regime change had for ordinary Iraqis.
Hassan told me that prior to the 2003 invasion, groups such as his--which exists to safeguard human rights in Iraq and to lobby on behalf of political prisoners--simply could not have existed; they would never have been allowed. After Saddam Hussein was toppled from power, hundreds of civic action groups, small and large, organized and not so organized, began to spring up everywhere as citizens discovered a new freedom to take part in grassroots activism. Hassan, who is from Hawija, a poverty-striken area in Kirkuk Province which is a source of much terrorist activity, saw an opportunity to put his lawyer's training and deep concern for human rights into action, creating the now seven-year-old Human Rights Establishment.
Hassan and his fellow guests, Bashar Al-Mandalwy, founder and manager of the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, and Hamid Hussein Safar, Director of Media and General Relationships at the Wasit Electoral Commission, offered us a fascinating perspective on what regime change meant for civic engagement in Iraq. More than that, they offered us the hand of friendship.
"See you WHEN you come to Iraq," Bashar the Iraqi journalist told my daughter Joy, the politically active US high schooler. All politics aside, such friendships forged over falafel and black tea give me great hope for our world...