My sophisticated, super secret, pre-run procrastination ritual, revealed

run4luvAmong people who run, there are a few regular topics of conversation.

Like “so, what’s your next event?”

This isn’t usually meant to be a loaded question. But depending on the timing, it can certainly inspire a panicked mental comparison of the mileage runs you’ve yet to do with the weeks left before your next event.

Remember? That event you registered for months ago when the combination of an early bird rate and the time remaining to build back up to running 13 miles in one afternoon in the middle of winter made this whole idea sound a lot more reasonable?

My next event is in days. And yes, there’s a Valentines theme. It’d be cuter if Mike and I were running together, like last year. And when I say “together,” I mean in same event, starting at roughly the same time, with one of us (Mike) finishing first and left to hang out out afterward, shivering in sweaty clothes, waiting for the other (me) to finish.

Last year, in honor of the theme, and just to see what kind of face I’d make, Mike suggested running the whole thing holding hands.

I punched him in the sternum. (more…)

Anxiety and the Overthinker

anxietyToday Jack texted me from school:

Could you pick me up? I had a panic attack in history and I just can’t do this today.

Ugh. Crap. I was in the middle of a run, and then I needed to shower, go to a meeting, go to another meeting, and then, well, work. Jack’s school is 30 minutes away, in good traffic. I didn’t have that kind of time.

And … crap. What did he mean: panic attack? Sure, he had enough going on to overwhelm a person. It could be finals, or the speech he’s supposed to have ready this weekend – four minutes translated into Danish and memorized for a youth exchange retreat. It could be something a friend or a teacher said to him. It could be the weight of the world. Or it could be everyday teenage angst.

I know a few people with very serious anxiety problems. Some who can’t sleep through the night, or speak to a crowd, or – I don’t know – navigate a car through traffic, depending upon the day. What if this episode was the start of something chronic and debilitating? (more…)

Come to think of it, I’m probably more of a pie person

This weekend I reached the threshold of my domestic goddessism, and it looked like inside of a Bundt pan.

First, in case you’re new here, a disclaimer: I am the self-proclaimed queen of uncrafty and I rarely bake, so the space we’re talking about is pretty tight already. Claustrophobic. But I set a mean table and we entertain frequently enough that my family knows the lead-in to these situations. Which looks a little like this:

(For the record, Mike could only watch the first 30 seconds of this video before muttering something about PTSD and leaving).

“I want this place looking like Disney on Ice in one minute.” Chris Fleming, you’re my hero. (more…)

Computer-free Sunday


This week we’ve been talking so much about winning the lottery that I thought about writing about what people say they’d do with a bazillion dollars and calling this installment “On Hookers and Cocaine.”

Then I wondered about what type of web traffic that would bring to my little blog, and decided I’m just not that edgy.

This is what things come down to people, creativity undermined by SEO once again.

Although, I have to admit, it’s not like I’m overly precise about stuff like that. If I was, I might have decided upon an actual niche for this blog. Then the whole Manic Mumbling moniker wouldn’t work, would it?

Anyway, that’s not even what this post is about. On Saturday my computer froze, and THAT’s what this post is about. (more…)

“Winging it” sounds the same in any language

Yes, I know he's not Danish. He's also not really speaking Swedish. That's not the point.

Yes, I know he’s not Danish. He’s also not really speaking Swedish. That’s not the point. Art by Max Geiger.

In Danish, the phrase “Good morning, how did you sleep,” looks like this:

God morgen, hvordan har du sover?

It sounds like:

G’morn, vordenardusowah?

As in any language, in Danish, phonetics often have little to do with how words look on paper. While this particular phrase (which Jack needs to learn, along with a short introduction speech by the end of the month), may not be too difficult, there are sounds in that language that don’t even exist in English. Not to mention letters, like: æ, ø, and å.

But when I reminded him last week about putting together his speech, he was unconcerned. He said he’d just use the handy, new Danish dictionary he got for Christmas, and whip out a few phrases.

Oh, honey. Please (er, ahem: vær så venlig). (more…)

Spare us your angst about Weight Watchers and Oprah

Okay, I’ll admit I was one of those who cringed just a little at Oprah’s Weight Watchers ad this week, where she bared her soul.

“Inside every overweight woman is a woman she knows she can be.”

Yeesh. Painting weight loss as a panacea for self image issues rubs me the wrong way. I’ve been a member of Weight Watchers for a while. I’ve gone to the weekly meetings. I know both weight loss and self-esteem are more complex issues than a one minute spot can capture.

But it’s not Oprah’s vulnerability that is getting some people getting riled up.

Why do I care? I’m kind of a Weight Watcher’s groupie. Over the course of my first year with the program, I lost seventeen pounds, reached my goal weight, and became a devotee. (more…)

Life lessons from the checkout stand

Healthy groceriesThank you so much, Mr. Albertson’s Checker, for your thoughtfulness this evening. After taking time to inquire about my day and whether I’d found everything I needed, you complimented my clever cell phone cover/credit card holder combo case as I swiped my card.

… And followed that up with just a smidge of concern for my well-being.

“You ever think about disconnecting from the grid?”

Don’t worry, Mr. Checker. Your comment didn’t come across as pompous at all. I could feel the concern coming off you in waves, from your knitted brow to your bushy-bearded half smirk. (more…)

Tips for the outbound exchange student

exchange flagsOne recent Saturday morning I woke early, my brain spinning. Jack had announced the day before his plan to take the bus to the ski hill. He hadn’t asked for help and I hadn’t offered. I hadn’t pulled his boots, gloves, hat, goggles and helmet out of the closet, checked to make sure his ski pass was securely attached to his coat, rifled through our medicine drawer to find the motion sickness medicine I’d have to insist he take. I didn’t make sure he had some cash on him for lunch, load his skis into the truck or roshambo with his father over who would give him a ride to the bus stop an hour before dawn.

I wasn’t going to do any of it, either. I looked at the clock, fluffed my pillow and lay my head back down. If the kid wanted to go skiing, now was about the time he needed to find out whether he could manage all by himself. (more…)

Aruba for the faint of heart

Pretty much anything we’ve done here this week has been preceded by a mimosa and followed up by the favorite local cocktail, the Aruba Ariba, which is a mixture of rum, vodka, a bunch of liquors and a couple drops of pineapple juice, a deadly combo which is hugely popular and probably explains the proliferation of piano bars and karaoke on this island. The drink even comes in a magical glass that draws tourists in like bugs to a zapper.

So today, I’m in full on detox mode, and kidding myself that I can actually work by a pool. Pretty much a third of everyone I know has already told me my Facebook posts make them want to punch me full in the face, just so you know I’m not expecting any sympathy.

I’ll live.

Yesterday we snorkeled just off Palm Beach. The winds were fairly normal for an Aruban afternoon, which means strong enough to make you forget the heat (as well as – hopefully – how many Aruba Aribas you may have had the night before), which also means the water was pretty choppy. I remembered belatedly that putting my face in the water with or without a mask makes me hyperventilate a little bit, but when they asked if anyone was new to snorkeling, I did my regular thing, and acted like I was all kinds of a snorkeling ninja. (more…)

A little excursion to One Happy Island

As some of you know, traveling has recently become a bigger part of my job. As things like this go, an opportunity for a site review came up with very little notice, and at a crappy time for bringing the rest of the family.

My client, also a very busy professional and a mom, sensed a little guilt.

“You go,” she told me. “Just you. It’ll be good for your soul.”

I don’t know. My soul is actually doing just fine. Winter doesn’t depress me. I love not sweating. And all my favorite clothes are best worn in layers. Besides which, with me being my normal, procrastinating self, I have yet to start in on the holiday prep.

I’m serious. And here we are at T-minus two weeks to Christmas or something crazy like that.

But I’m not stupid. Someone says “we need you in Aruba,” and I’m halfway to the airport before you can blink.

I’m just a giver like that.

So, in a teensy nutshell, that’s how things like this happen.