Thursday, December 30, 2010

Trains & Comics

I am a huge fan of trains and comic books.  I have been a fan for as long as I can remember and I don't remember what my first experience with trains or comics was.  I have a feeling that it was my father's influence, but I could be wrong of course.

My father would build model railroad towns and landscapes and spend hours running his trains through these towns and landscapes when I was very young.  I believe he used HO scale.  I remember standing in the garage of our house in Vacaville, CA at the age of 3 and staring up at the plywood that the railroad, towns and landscapes were built on.  I'd stand on my tiptoes until he picked me up.  His railroad had everything: a depot, track switches, people, trees, grass, mountains, tunnels.  It was so great!

When I was 4 or 5, my mother and I took the train from Vacaville to Madera to see my Nana and Papa.  I think that was my first train ride.  It wasn't a terribly long ride, although it seemed like a huge journey for me.  I don't really remember much about sitting on the train, but I do remember my mom pointing out my Uncle as we pulled into the station.  Maybe I was younger than 4.  I know I talked about the train ride to whoever would listen for several days after.  I can't remember if my parents ever showed that they were tired of that story.  Sometimes, there's something really magical about the stories children tell, because they experienced something new and exciting.

Well, the love of trains has been with me forever.  Which is the same length of time that I've been in love with comic books.  My father had this huge steamer trunk full of comic books when I was a child and occasionally, he'd open it and pull out comics and I'd sit on the couch and look at them over his shoulder.  I was young enough that I didn't know how to read, I don't even think I was in any kind of school.  So, he'd tell me what was going on and who the characters were.  He was always very patient with me as he explained Batman, Spider-Man, The X-Men and Fantastic Four and others.  In the early 80s, Super Friends was a Saturday morning cartoon that I watched, and on the occasions he was home, he'd watch it with me.

I knew the names of several comic book heroes and villains by the time I was 6.  On a side note, I also knew all about Luke, Leia, Hans Solo, Obi Wan, and Darth Vader by the age of 6, but that's a different story as well.  I wanted super powers just like the heroes I saw on the Super Friends show.  I also watched, as a young child, the Super Woman show and the Batman show.  I loved how Batman had animated words whenever Batman or Robin hit Penguin, Joker or Catwoman.  Pow!  Kaboom!  LOL.

When we moved to Europe, I was able to ride trains again and was so very happy.  We had to leave dad's comics in storage in the US, but I think riding trains in Spain, France and England was a pretty fair trade.  We rode on the Metro a lot when we lived in Spain and one year we took the night train to Paris from Madrid.  That was pretty fun and it was also my sister's first time on a train ride like that.  It was my first overnight train ride too.  When we went to London, we rode the Tube frequently.  I rather like underground railroads, subways, metroes, tubes or whatever they are called in each city they operate in.

When we moved back to the US, I still enjoyed trains and comics and by then there were new cartoons based on comic books on Saturday mornings.  I especially enjoyed watching The X-Men cartoons.  Then, the 90s brought Batman cartoons, Batman movies (Michael Keaton was pretty darn good as Bruce Wayne/Batman), X-Men movies, X-Men cartoons, Justice League cartoons and all of these continued into the new century, 2000 and beyond.

I'm still a huge fan of trains.  I ride a light rail, which is a nice way to commute.  I love watching the cargo trains that go by the light rail station.  I am also a huge fan of comics.  It is pretty much a given that I will go see any movie based on a comic book.  I love Batman and X-Men and Spider-Man and Superman.  I hope they do a Wonder Woman movie, but I have no idea who would make a good Wonder Woman.  Linda Carter was so great as the 1980s Wonder Woman, that I'm having a hard time picturing someone else.

I hope one day, I'll be able to share the joys and excitement of trains (both real and model) and comic books with my own children.  I think that will be a really fun thing to do together.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Book Review: Reading Women by Stephanie Staal

Review of Reading Women: How the Great Books of Feminism Changed My Life by Stephanie Staal

I received this pre-release book free through the Goodreads First Reads Program ( on December 2, 2010 and immediately proceeded to the first page.

The plot of this book interested me when I read about it on the Goodreads First Reads page, so I was looking forward to hearing how a fellow thirty-something's life had been changed by the books of feminism.

In her thirties, Stephanie Staal decides to return to her college alma mater, Barnard College, after experiencing what I would call a moment of lost identity. This self-proclaimed feminist, who wanted to be a career woman suddenly found herself as a wife and mother working as a freelance writer on occasion. Staal suddenly felt like a traitor to the feminist movement she had studied and read about as an undergraduate, asking the question that thousands of women ask everyday -- "What the hell is happening to me?"

So, in an attempt to figure out what happened to her own feminist ideals, she audits the year long Feminist Texts course at Barnard College, reading 42 books/texts and 20 selected essays, by numerous writers including Ida B. Wells, Elaine Pagels, Mary Wollstonecraft, Virginia Woolf, Sigmund Freud, Simone de Beauvoir and others.

Rereading these texts gives her the opportunity to examine, and re-examine, how her own reaction to the works has changed since she was an undergraduate as well as remark on an obvious generation gap between her thirty-something self and the 18-22 year old women in the class.

While I found the writing very open, honest and personal, I found the story somewhat bland. Staal has an identity crisis because she feels as if she hasn't stuck to the feminist ideals she was raised with and adopted in her college years. She finds herself, at 30, a wife and mother. She changed aspects of her career (from full-time journalist to freelance writer/journalist) to be able to stay home with her daughter. She has also adopted a more domestic lifestyle, taking care of the house on a full-time basis. These changes lead her to wonder if she has stopped being a feminist and if she has stopped upholding the ideals she once had.

I did feel sympathetic towards Staal as she began to struggle with changes in her life brought on by turning 30, getting married and having a baby. Staal says "The age of thirty, as nineteenth century French novelist Honore de Balzac once noted, is one of the most dangerous periods for a woman, and indeed, it was at this particular juncture in my own life, the turning from one decade to the next, that I -- somewhat predictably, somewhat ashamedly -- started to unravel." (Page 5)

As a thirty-something myself, I have felt that sense of "now what?" as I transitioned from one decade to another. There is something that happens when a person turns 30 and, in my case, I will say Staal was not alone in that sense of lack of accomplishment. That is also where our similarities end.

I myself am not a wife nor am I mother. I have not had to make the decision of many working women who become mothers -- do I stay home or do I go back to work? One day, I will face that question and will have to decide if I can afford to stay home or if I will have to return to the workforce after becoming a mother. I know that is a difficult decision thousands of women make everyday, but does it say something about what kind of feminists they are? At this time in my life, I guess I am upholding the ideals of the feminist movement -- I'm an educated, independent career woman. Does that make me a better feminist than Staal, than other women who choose to stay home with their children? I don't think so, but maybe she would disagree with me.

I admit that I am unfamiliar with about 90% of the feminist texts Staal read, both in the Feminist Texts course she took, as well as the 25 additional books she read at home, so this book was a bit of an introduction for me to feminist literature. My basic understanding of feminism comes from what little I learned in my history classes in junior and senior high school. I knew about the Suffragettes and their fight for the right to vote. I also know that ever since women were given the right to vote, there has been an ongoing fight for equality in all areas of the workforce and respect in all aspects of life.

I know that women have been fighting to be able to work and be mothers without suffering backlash or consequences, and I also know that the corporate world still hasn't quite adjusted itself so that women don't have to choose between being a working mom or a stay at home mom. I hope that one day, a woman will be able to work from both home and office and not have her career negatively impacted because she is a mother and that the same woman will be able to be home as much and as often as she wants with her children without having to step off of the corporate ladder. I hope one day, the demands of the working mom can reconcile with the demands of the stay at home mom, and they both will feel like they are living up to, and fulfilling, the ideals of the feminists who came before them.

I get the impression that Staal feels inadequate on many levels. She isn't like the other neighborhood mommies, who discuss their babies’ nursery themes and carry designer diaper bags. She isn't that "perfect" mother who can get her daughter's breakfast made to her liking, dressed in a "pretty outfit", and out to school on time and happy. The thing is, she's not alone. There are a lot of mothers who want to be that "perfect" mom like June Cleaver or Mrs. Brady was, but find that they aren't quite on the same level as those perfect TV moms. Even while working as a freelance journalist, she feels like she's somehow not being a good mom or a good feminist.

As her studies progress in the Feminist Texts course, she explains what each text is about and how the class reacts to the message of each. Based on her explanation of each text, I do not think these texts changed Staal's life. I do think they gave her the ability to create and develop her own feminism. I do not think Staal is turning her back on the feminist ideals she was raised with, she isn't a traitor. I do think that being able to take this course as a thirty-something, working-stay-at-home-mom (she is a freelance journalist which seems to be a fitting example of working-stay-at-home-mom) gave her some insight into who she was, who she is, and who she will become as a woman, a wife and a mother. She also got to find out what a younger generation thought of feminism and the feminist movement, which was mainly a feeling of disinterest and lack of enthusiasm.

By the end of the book, I felt like I had been given a very quick and interesting introduction to feminist literature and feminist authors but I did not see any type of significant change in Staal based on the ideals presented in the texts. At the end of the book, it was unclear to me how these books actually changed her life. I do think the books showed her how feminism has developed, changed and grown over the century, and how it continues to change with each new generation of women.  I think these texts also showed her how to change and grow as a woman.

On a 5 star rating scale, I give this book 3 stars. This book will be available in bookstores, from Public Affairs Publishing, on February 22, 2011.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Pathetic, am I?

Pathetic (adj.) -- (1) causing or evoking pity, sympathetic sadness, sorrow, etc; pitiful; pitiable; (2) affecting or moving the feelings; (3) pertaining to or caused by the feelings; (4) miserably or contemptibly inadequate

I use self deprecating humor a lot.  I put myself down more than I should and I find ways to use myself as the butt of a joke or humorous story that I am telling to others.  I'm not really sure why I do that, but I do.  At least once a day, I state to whomever I'm talking to "Well, I'm fairly pathetic", and then continue with the story I'm telling.  I say that all the time actually, that I'm pathetic.  Deep down that's how I feel about myself, I guess that's a horrible thing to admit but I've been suffering from self-esteem issues most of my life, so there you go.

Looking at the definition, I'm kind of thinking my patheticness (not sure if that's a word) falls into #3 or #4.  Hm, definitely #4 now that I get to thinking about it.  Feelings of miserable inadequacy = pathetic.  Okay, I just changed around the #4 part of the definition, but still that works.  I do feel  fairly inadequate, and I know that is caused by feeling like I am not doing anything with my life.  It's that feeling of not doing what one was born to do.  I, personally, have no idea what I was born to do.  When I was younger, elementary school age, I wanted to be a teacher or a ballerina or an astronaut.  By the time I got to high school, I had settled on lawyer.  In college, I wanted to change from pre-law to education, but for one significant reason (different story for a different time), I did not change and remained pre-law but didn't go to law school.  So, maybe I'm meant to teach.  I volunteer with youth at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver and have been doing that since Fall 2007.  I really enjoy it and always look forward to the beginning of the new school year because then I can return to the Club.

I feel pathetic cause I feel like I am living a purposeless life.  There, I said it.  Out loud even.  Of course, now I feel even more pathetic, so there you go.

I rarely read memoirs, mainly because I am not interested in what that person has to say about his or her life.  Now, there are a handful of memoirs that I thoroughly enjoyed and was glad that I read.  I LOVED The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan!  Part of the reason I loved it was because her particular story was something I could relate to, partially.  She was fighting cancer and her father was also fighting cancer.  I am not a cancer survivor, but my own father fought cancer 3 times.  I could relate to her stories about her relationship with her own father when she was a child, as well as how she related to him as an adult.  I enjoyed Pretty is What Changes by Jessica Queller because I found her very brave to face the BRCA2 gene in the manner she did and thought she was really level-headed with all of the decisions she made.  She was very personable, I thought, and I really liked her.  Then there are memoirs that I do not like, and I think the first word that comes to my mind in regards to those memoirs is PATHETIC.

I was watching a movie today, that was made from a memoir (there are numerous, I know).  It was Julie & Julia, starring Meryl Streep (whom I love) and Amy Adams (whom I also love).  I read both Julie & Julia by Julie Powell and My Life in France by Julia Child before the movie came out but never made it to the theater to see the actual movie.  I found Julie Powell both pathetic and intriguing.  I thought she was intriguing because she strove to make every one of Julia Child's recipes in one year, which is pretty freaking ambitious.  I am developing my cooking skills and I am not at all that ambitious, so I tip my hat to Julie Powell for doing all those recipes.  I found her pathetic because she expresses her own inadequacies and feelings of patheticness in the beginning of her book.  I will say she grew by the end of the book, but there was still part of me that just thought she was a pathetic person.

Which brings me to the movie.  I was, sporadically, watching the movie this morning and thought Amy Adams did a remarkable job of showing Julie's pathetic and inadequate side as well as showing how much she grew by the end of her journey cooking Julia Child's recipes.  Then, I had an epiphany (well, that might be an exaggeration, more like an "aha" moment).  It occurred to me that I was also a bit jealous of Julie Powell: as pathetic as she was, she put herself out there with a goal and she accomplished that goal and ended up growing as a person and people loved her.  People loved reading her blog everyday and seeing how each recipe came out.  People sent her things and supported her and cheered for her as she worked her way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  So, here was a woman who felt pathetic and inadequate when she heard about the successes of some of her other friends and ended up becoming a much loved blogger who achieved a great feat -- she mastered the art of French cooking.

So...who's the pathetic person now?  Well, that would still be me.  So, what am I going to do to not be so pathetic?  Hm, that's a damn good question.  The phrase "put on your big girl panties and deal with it" comes to mind.  Well, I honestly don't know how to combat feelings of inadequacy within my own life.  It doesn't matter how much education I pursue, I don't think I'll be any less pathetic with a second Master's or a PhD.  It doesn't matter how many groups, clubs or organizations I join, either.  Those just keep me busy but ultimately, I still end the day feeling unfulfilled and inadequate, pathetic and lowly.  I'll continue to use self deprecating humor because it seems to make other people laugh and makes me appear to be more humble than I really am.  Self deprecating humor is a great way to disguise a lot of things about myself, and I'm pretty damn good at it.

Julie Powell is my hero!  Cheers to you, Ms. Powell, wherever you are.  And I apologize, if you ever read this blog.  I originally found you pathetic, but actually I think you're pretty fabulous.  You felt you were sinking and you saved yourself through a passion you didn't know you had.  I admire that!  I'm sinking, but maybe one day, I too, will find my passion and rise to the surface a better person.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Thoughts as we near the end of 2010

I haven't been a fan of Christmas since I graduated from college.  It was just a day to me, really.  When I was in college, Christmas was more fun because I had been away at school, studying for and taking finals and was returning home to a family that actually missed me.  By the time college was over, I had returned (in hindsight, unwisely) back to Colorado and my family no longer missed me.  I liked being missed by them, cause it made me feel important and wanted.  I know that sounds horrible and desperate, but that's how I felt at the time (and, sometimes, do still feel).

As the oldest child of "perfect" parents, I worked very hard to prove myself.  I was a horrible math student.  I was a fantastic English and history student.  By middle school, I had established myself as an A/B student who regularly received a C in math (didn't matter the type of math, I got a C in it).  By the time I graduated from high school, I had a 3.4 GPA, which certainly isn't something to be ashamed of.  At least, I didn't think it was anything to ashamed of.  It was the kind of GPA that would aid me in getting into a good college and it showed that I was, if not a perfect student, at least a dedicated one who worked hard and turned in her homework assignments.  Unfortunately, it's hard to be proud of your accomoplishments, when your parents make them out to be less than acceptible.  My grades in math usually sparked a significant ass-chewing and I was either sent to my room to work on math problems with orders to "do them right or else" OR mathematic video games were purchased for me to play on our Nintendo and that's all I was allowed to play (while my younger sister was able/allowed to play the more fun games).  Problem was, I just didn't get them; I didn't get mathematics.  The point I'm getting at is that it didn't matter if I got As and Bs in history, English, Spanish, and science.  The fact that I wasn't getting anything above a C in math made me a failure, which in turn made me feel like an extremely insignificant and unwanted member of our family.  So, heading off to college, as the firstborn child, was an opportunity for me to feel somewhat important.

I did feel important too.  I went out of state for college, to a small, private liberal arts college in the very green (and very wet compared to Colorado) Pacific Northwest.  I went away for several reasons, that I don't think my parents have ever been able to understand or appreciate.  I went away because I wanted to grow up and become an adult.  If I stayed in-state, like my parents wanted, I would have come home every weekend and never truly experienced all that is COLLEGE.  I went away because I hated my parents (at the time, I no longer hate them, in case anyone is wondering); my parents had ruined my life more than they could ever understand.  They not only took me away from a place where I was immensely happy, but they didn't really care and they never showed any interest in really listening to me and hearing what I was saying.  I think they heard my complaints, but I don't think they heard me, which there is a definite difference and distinction.  I went away because I was used to moving around as a military child and I wanted to go someplace I had never been.  I was hoping to go someplace that would appeal to me enough that I would want to remain there for the rest of my life.  Unfortunately, as beautiful as the Pacific Northwest is and as much as I loved spending time in Seattle, it was not the right place for me to spend the rest of my life.  I'm still searching though.

I do believe that going away was really great for me.  I only saw my family at Christmas, Spring break and summer breaks, with the occasional Thanksgiving.  We talked every Sunday on the phone and it sounded like they missed me.  They actually showed interest in what classes I was taking, what my roommates were like, what the dorm folk were like, and what fun places I was going to and exploring in Tacoma and Seattle.  Also, for the first time, I didn't get yelled at for getting a D one semester.  I took an Economics class and it was a bit difficult for me to understand, even with the help of a fellow classmate and I ended up with a D.  It was the only class I did horribly in; all my other grades during the rest of college were As and Bs (with the typical Pass grade in all of the Physical Education classes I took).  I was more upset about that D than my parents were, which was actually a huge relief!  My father even said not to worry about the D cause it was one class and overall he knew I was a good student and he knew I had great grades in all of my other classes, at least I tried taking a class that challenged me and I could always take it over or take other classes that might balance out the D.  When I graduated from college, the look of pride on my father's face was enough to make me want to cry (but I didn't cause I didn't want to ruin my gown with wet spots or make my makeup run).

Then, I returned to Colorado and the excitement over my accomplishments wore off.  I don't mean to detract from the things my sister did, but the way my parents talked about her, you would have thought they only had one child.  Actually, the women that worked with my mother didn't know she had two children (I know this because when I went into the store she worked at and asked for her, they asked me who I was and I told them I was her daughter and they asked if I was the one attending CSU and I said I was her oldest daughter and they said "Oh, I didn't know C had another daughter".  That's a true story, I'm not making that up).  I just lost interest in spending Christmas with my family because it appeared that none of them were interested in me.  When I would start to talk about things going on at my job or things my friends and I were doing, I was interrupted and talked over by my family so I just stopped talking.  I waited until one of them asked me something, then I answered and that was it.  I even stopped giving detailed answers.  I didn't see the point.  None of them were interested in anything I had to say.

By the time July 2009 rolled around, I was pretty fed up with my family and was ready to make a significant and, possibly dramatic, change.  I wanted to get as far away from them as I could and cut them out of my life completely.  Okay, that's a horrible thing to actually say outloud, but it's how I felt at the time.  So, because I had always wanted to work with children and was disappointed I didn't change from Pre-Law to Education while in college, I decided to find alternative ways to teach.  I started applying for Teaching Fellows Programs back East.  The first program I applied for was the NYC Teaching Fellows Program and had just found out that I was invited for an interview when my maternal grandfather passed away.  It was November 21, 2009.  His memorial service was in early December, and we flew out as a family.  I got to see all of the Aunts, Uncles and cousins I had been missing since we left California in 1992.  I was able to see and spend time with my remaining 3 grandparents and even see/meet second cousins I either hadn't seen since they were under the age of 5 or had never seen except in pictures.

During the reception, I think several of my Aunts and Uncles could detect that I was miserable beyond mourning the passing of Papa.  After speaking with a couple of them, the recommendation that was given to me was to get as far away from my mother and sister as I could because they were "putting out my light"; "they are the kind of people who need to be the center of the universe and can and will completely douse the light that is me".  The opinion was that it was probably a good idea that I was applying for those programs in other states, that way I could go someplace where my light could shine and people would be able to know me as Tara rather than daughter of C and sister of A.  That was, in my opinion, a brilliant recommendation and completely made me feel better.  I had been fairly miserable as the daughter of M and C and the sister of A since I was about 23, so knowing that my Aunts and Uncles were able to sympathize with how I was feeling and could relate to how difficult it was being the daughter of C and sister of A (C and A, according to my extended family, are the exact same person, just different ages) was a really, REALLY great feeling.

My interview in NYC was in mid-December, right before Christmas.  It was an interesting experience, and I learned a lot at my interview (my interview skills were pretty rusty).  NYC is a place I would definitely want to visit again, but cannot see myself living in.  The nightmare was the flight back from NYC to DIA.  Long story that can wait for another blog post, but I got home on December 23, pretty close to Christmas when my original return was supposed to be December 21.  Well, at Christmas dinner, when I tried to tell them about my interview and the hostel I stayed at, I was interrupted and talked over and, essentially, silenced.  No one cared.  So, I just shut down.  Their lack of interest reinforced my desire to move as far away as possible and cut them out of my life.

When I was invited to interview with the DC Teaching Fellows Program in March 2010, I didn't tell my parents until 3 days before leaving.  The only reason I told them was because my grandmother mentioned my trip to my mom.  I had told my grandmother cause she was excited that I was looking for an opportunity to teach; it didn't occur to me that she'd tell my mom and, in hindsight, I wouldn't have told her until after my trip so then I never would have had to tell my parents.  I had a great trip to DC and the interview was really good.  I can easily see myself living in the DC area, it just FELT like the right place!  Unfortunately, I didn't get a position (10,000 applicants, 3,000 interviewees considered, 100 positions; I'm lucky to have gotten an interview).  It wasn't until April 2010, that anyone in my family showed any interest in what I was doing with my life (my job, my church and my interests in the Teaching Fellows Programs) and that interest was shown by my father.  I would like to think that the reason he suddenly started to show interest was because he could tell I was pulling away, and he didn't want me to pull too far away because he knew his time here on Earth was limited.  In actuality, I think he asked because I hadn't shared anything with him in several months and that was not normal for me.

Up until my father's death in July, I was more than ready to apply to other Teaching Fellows Programs and try to get jobs back East.  My plan, before he died, was to get a job out of state, move away and cut my family out of my life.  I felt unwanted and uncared about.  I believed that my family just didn't want me around, that they spent so much time glorifying my sister because they thought I was a failure.  I had never really believed my parents were proud of me or my accomplishments.  I hoped, that if I moved away and stopped speaking to them, it would make them wonder what they did to drive me away.

Then my dad died.  Now, Christmas sucks for a whole different reason.  Even though I have not liked and enjoyed Christmas for awhile now, I REALLY don't see the point this year.  I bought cards that have been sitting on my couch in the shopping bag for about 2 weeks now.  I didn't put up any of my lights or my tree.  I haven't even pulled out my Trans-Siberian Orchestra CDs to listen to and I listen to them every December.  I was trying to figure out what to buy my sister for Christmas this year and that led to me thinking of what to get my dad.  Then I remembered, I can't get him a gift.  As the daughter of an Air Force officer and an airline pilot, I'm used to my father not being home for holidays, but he ALWAYS called from wherever he was to wish us a Happy Thanksgiving or Merry Christmas.  I'm fine with him not being home for Christmas this year, it's the fact that the phone won't be ringing that breaks my heart and really makes this a sucky year.  I'm not going to lie and say I'm not still upset with my family, cause I am, but my hurt feelings are lessened.  Now I wonder if he died because I was angry with him.  Realistically, I know my anger didn't kill him, it was a micro-embolism caused by cancerous liver cells (that's a different, long story), but I did stop talking to him, which I know hurt his feelings.  I did hurt his feelings.

My family isn't perfect, but we are family.  I'd give up all of my holidays if it meant we could all be together this year for Christmas.  It will just be my mother and I.  My sister, who is a flight attendant, will be flying.  My boyfriend (who hurt my feelings by doing this) informed me he didn't want to go to my mother's for Christmas dinner and would rather just stay home alone.  And, my father is in a box at the USAFA cemetary.  So, it will be mom and I, watching TV and eating a nice ham for dinner.  I'll give her the gift I ordered (assuming it's here in time, boy will my heart break if it's not here in time; I ordered it December 8 and it still hasn't arrived; I'm trying very hard NOT to panic) and we'll just hang out.  I'd give away all of my books and my knitting (anyone who knows me, knows that my passions are reading and knitting) if dad could be here for Christmas.  I'd be a better daughter if it meant he could be here.  I would rewind the clock and go to law school like he wanted, if it meant that he could be here this year for Christmas and not dead from cancer.  I guess I'm in the bargaining phase of my grief?  "Dear God, I'll go to law school and become a lawyer if you'll make my dad not dead anymore. Love, Tara".  Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way.  I would have been a good daughter, stayed in state and gone to CU for college and then go to law school if it meant that my dad wouldn't get cancer and die.  Yeah, I'm in the bargaining phase.

This year, I just want Christmas to go away.  I admit, I'm a Scrooge this year.

Monday, December 20, 2010


I was lying on the couch, not feeling all that well and found my eyes wandering around my small yet quaint one bedroom apartment, when my eyes fell upon Natalie.  Natalie holds the title of Tara's First Baby Doll.  I got her as a present for my 1st birthday and she's been with me ever since.  For a doll that is 33 years old, she's held up wonderfully.  Natalie has a plastic face and hands with "real" hair.  Her body is a soft material.  She has a sweet smile on her face and big brown eyes.  The vast majority of my childhood memories contain Natalie.  I remember carrying her around the house and having her beside me in bed.  What is it about children and that first toy they latch onto?

I have every intention of keeping Natalie and passing her on to my own daughter.  She's been part of my life for what seems like forever.  Natalie moved everywhere with me, except for college.  I wasn't allowed to take her to college with me, but that was okay because when I came home for holidays and breaks, she was there waiting for me.  I shared all of my secrets with Natalie.  If she were a real person, she'd have tons of dirt on me.  I guess it's a good thing she's not a real person, but rather a doll.

Now, as a 34 year old, I don't really do much with Natalie.  She sits in the lap of my winter bear that I received back in middle school around Christmas; Mr. Winter Bear sits in the rocking chair my Papa made me when I was very small.  They sit together, staring at me.  I think part of me thinks it would be completely odd for me to just sit on the couch with Natalie sitting in my lap.  Of course, I could still tell her my secrets, absolutely, but I don't think I need her now the way I needed her when I was younger.

When I was a small child, we moved around a lot.  My father was in the military and I think, through all of our moves, she was the one thing that remained the same.  Especially as I got older, when the moves became harder for me to adjust to, Natalie was the constant in my life.  I think my parents had a hard time understanding why the moves were difficult for me, which I can understand why.  I was a very shy child and my parents were definitely not shy people.  So, Natalie helped me adjust to those moves.  She helped me feel not so alone.  We always moved during the summers, so I would spend that first summer in the new city alone, without any friends until the school year began.

Natalie helped me through a lot of lonely moments in my life.  There are days when I do wish she were real.  She probably knows me better than anyone, even better than my own family.  Sometimes I wish she would actually respond when I ask her a question.  I could certainly use her advice with a lot of things.  Since she is only a doll, I will just continue to tell her my secrets, knowing that she will always be the only person who truly knows and understands me.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Youth and bullying

This morning, my church did a special service about GLBTs and their straight allies.  This was a moving service, we had a very large choir performance and several wonderful lay testimony presentations and I found myself thinking about my own stance on the GLBT community.

When I was in 9th grade, I met the first of many openly gay men who would impact my life -- my English teacher.  Everyone at school knew he was gay and many of the students made ridiculous comments like "if he touches you, you'll turn gay".  My parents also knew of his sexual preference but never made a big deal out of it.  When asked by neighbors whose sons and daughters were going to be in the same English class with me, my parents would respond that it didn't bother them that he was gay and they didn't think who he slept with had any impact or made any indication as to how he was going to teach 9th grade English literature and composition.  I think since my parents didn't make it an issue, it wasn't an issue for me.  I loved his class!  He was a wonderful teacher and really engaged the class in discussions about the books we were reading, and he encouraged debate and reflection.  He was my favorite teacher in 9th grade.

I am sure I met other gays and lesbians throughout high school, but I don't think they were open and "out of the closet" yet.  I am not at all shocked about the various classmates from high school who are now out and open about their sexuality.  I'm just sorry that they felt they could not be their true selves when we were in high school.  When my family moved to Colorado Springs in 1992, I was a junior in high school.  By this time I had formed a very clear opinion of gays and lesbians.  They were people like everyone else and what two consenting adults did in the privacy of their own home was none of my business.  It was not my place to condemn someone for who they loved, just as I didn't want anyone to condemn me for who I loved.  In high school, I faced a lot of ridicule for dating outside my race.  I didn't think it was a big deal, dating boys who were white or Hispanic, but other people did and I was made fun of and picked on for it.  It hurts and I didn't want to be the kind of person who hurts others, so I accepted the right of another person to love, no matter the color or gender of their heart's desire.

In college, I met a lot of gays and lesbians.  It wasn't an issue for me, I actually appreciated that these men and women felt they could trust me with who they really were.  There were a couple of times when dorm mates came out to me, which I thought was really awesome.  I saw it as an honor that they saw me as someone they could confide in.  My college also had two support groups/clubs for students and professors who were GLBT and their straight allies/friends were invited to participate.  I never actively participated in these groups, and right now I don't know why.  I did support the members of those groups, I guess I just didn't do it openly.

Now, it's 2010 and GLBT tweens, teens and young adults are killing themselves because of the bullying they endure on a daily basis at school and on the Internet.  When I was a teen, there was no Internet and the world wide web was just something we saw on shows like Star Trek or the movie 2001.  Bullying occurred in the hallways of school and, less frequently, at the mall on the weekends when kids decided to hang out there.  There was no Facebook to post hurtful messages on and no Twitter to tweet mean things about.  Just the typical school day, as the students walked through the halls between classes and in the lunchroom.

I was a victim of bullying when I was younger.  It started when we moved to California when I was in the 8th grade.  This was the first time I had been bullied and it caught me off guard.  I'm black, or African-American for the politically correct folks, and I always knew that there people out there who wouldn't like me because of the color of my skin.  I just didn't expect to be hated by other blacks.  This black girl, Mandy, in one of my 8th grade classes started calling me "Oreo" and "bitch".  I would go home after school, upset and bothered by this and my mother explained to me that the word Oreo was meant to describe what this girl perceived me to be: black on the outside and white on the inside.  Just like the cookie.  I have never been able to wrap my brain around that idea -- that a person can be a color on the outside and a different one on the inside.  How exactly does that work?  When you are a certain "color" are you supposed to act a certain way?  What way was I, as a black person, supposed to act and why did she think I was acting white?  I never knew the answer to those questions, but the bullying and name calling didn't stop.  Mandy, and other black students continued to call me an Oreo.  My mom told me I should ignore her and she'll lose the desire to continue to make fun of me.  Well, ignoring Mandy didn't work.  She kept at it, even calling me an Oreo in front of our P.E. teacher who reprimanded her and gave her detention.  Even that didn't stop Mandy from making 8th through 10th grade miserable for me.

It's hard being different.  It's hard feeling like you don't fit in.  I've felt that way for a long time, ever since we moved to Colorado Springs in 1992 when I was 16.  Race is an issue that has always been part of this country's history, and I fear, it will continue to remain a huge issue that either unites or divides this country.  No matter how hard people fight for racial equality, there will continue to be people who believe there is a superior and several inferior races.  Now the fight has turned towards the GLBT community.  This is a new fight for equality.  It is being waged in reality and in cyberspace.  We are losing our bright, vibrant GLBT youth because of the bullying they face everyday for being themselves, for being who they are.

I worry about our youth, our young GLBT.  I wish they knew that the nightmare that is high school will end and then they will find themselves out in the larger world, surrounded by people from all walks of life.  Surviving high school can be very difficult, there are so many cliques and groups and clubs, that it can be difficult to find where you belong, where you fit in.  The one thing I know is that life can and will get better.  There will be a day when you meet people who don't care about the color of your skin, about the religion you practice, about the person you choose to love.  I certainly don't care about someone's color or religion or lifestyle.  This is what I believe: God created love; God created humans in His/Her image and these humans are colorful. God loves all humans, no matter their color.  God is colorblind, therefore love is colorblind.  I recently decided to add this: God made some of us Two Spirited and He/She loves all of us, equally.  Love cares not who or what you are, it just cares that you are loved.

To all the youth -- the colorful, the straight, the GLBT, the young and the old -- it does get better and you are loved.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Writing Contests

I entered a writing contest through Writer's Digest back in July.  It's actually a pretty big writing contest, the 79th Annual Writing Competition.  There were 10 categories you could submit in and there were going to be 1,000 winners announced.  I don't know when exactly they were going to notify people that they had placed, but the website said "in October".  Well, October is 31 days long, so now I wonder -- should I wait until November 1 before accepting that I am not one of the 1,000 people whose story placed, or should I just accept it now?  It's only Sunday, October 3, 2010 so the month is still young.  There is a possibility that I could hear something anytime between now and October 31.  So, I've decided to just put it to the back of my mind and focus on upcoming writing competitions.

Since I was 13 I've wanted to be a writer.  I consider myself a writer, absolutely.  I keep a journal and have been keeping one since I was 16.  I started the journal as a way to cope with being a newly transplanted 16 year old -- my father had just retired from the Air Force and moved the family from beautiful, sunny Southern California to majestically mountainous Colorado and I was starting my junior year of high school.  I was not happy, which is a huge understatement.  So, the journal writing was my way of coping with a new high school and new students and a new "culture".  Colorado and California are very different places and, at 16, I considered myself a Californian head to toe.  In college, my dream to write continued but my father said I had to have a "real" goal so I decided I wanted to be a lawyer.  I had always been fascinated by the law and anything to do with the law.  I knew I'd need a college education to become a profiler with the BAU at the FBI and I figured a law degree would look good on my application to the FBI.  I majored and received a BA in English Writing in 1998, still dreaming of being a writer but I did not go to law school.  My father was extremely disappointed that I didn't go to law school and it showed in the way he treated me until his death.  He loved me, but he was extremely disappointed in me and that never changed.

I still have keep a journal and now I have this blog.  I don't write in this blog as much as I write in my journal but I find the blogging to be cathartic.  I've heard arguments for and against blogging and I know that, in the age of social media, you lose some amount of privacy when you decide to create a blog, create a profile on Facebook or MySpace, and relate the interesting and mundane in 140 characters on Twitter.  I have nothing against any of those sites (I have a blog, FB page and Twitter page).  I don't tweet multiple times a day but I do tweet multiple times during the week.  To me, it's all a form of writing, some are just more public than others.

So, I'm a writer.  I'm not an author.  As of today, I don't have any written pieces that can be found in bookstores or on sites like Amazon.  I dream of one day walking through a bookstore, like Borders or Barnes & Noble, and seeing a book with my name on it sitting on the shelf, waiting to be purchased.  I love walking through bookstores.  I love walking through libraries.  I love anyplace where a large collection of books can be found.  I love books.  I want to see my name on a book, with my picture on the back.  I want to greet fans and sign their books and have my picture taken with them.  Now, that might be selfish or something like that, but it's my dream.

Writer's Digest has two more writing competitions coming up that I can submit to.  There are other contests on the Writer's Digest website, but they are poetry contests and I don't really enjoy writing poetry.  I love reading poetry, but not writing it.  So, I figure the more writing contests I enter, the better I will get at the art of written storytelling.  I love telling stories, but sometimes I have difficulties transforming my verbal stories into written stories.  I'm still going to follow my dream and one day I know I will walk into a bookstore and see my name on the front and my smiling face on the back.

Now I wait.  I'm waiting to hear from Writer's Digest to see if I placed in the 79th Annual Writing Competition.  I'm writing too, working on two different fiction stories, one to be submitted November 1 with a max word count of 4,000 and one due December 1 with a max word count of 1,500.  The story I submitted for the 79th Annual competition was a max word count of 4,000 and that was difficult.  I'm not very good at telling short stories, but I'm learning.  I definitely need to work on perfecting my craft.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


July 21, 2010 was the last day I saw my father alive.  I wrote a blog entry at 436am on July 22, 2010 because I had a lot on my mind about my dad and was extremely worried about his inability to breathe.  It bothered me when I saw him in the hospital on July 21st.  It was difficult watching him gasp for air as he removed his oxygen mask to eat his dinner.  It was painful for me to see him struggle to breathe.

By 815am on July 22, 2010 my father was dead.  My mother called me at work around 915am and told me that I needed to get to the hospital because they had called and told her that they thought dad had a heart attack and were working on him.  Thankfully, and I am forever thankful for this, my Judge drove me to the hospital.  I arrived before my mother and was informed by the managing nurse that dad was gone.  The hospital sent a taxi to pick up my mom because they didn't want her driving down to the hospital but they hadn't told her that he had died.  I couldn't believe it!  He wasn't supposed to die, he looked fine on July 21st.  The only issue was the breathing, otherwise his color had returned and he was eating real food and was able to keep it all down.  He was even watching TV and laughing at the show that was on.

By the time mom arrived, I had been there close to 40 minutes.  The hospital chaplain and social worker sat with me, which I am very appreciative of.  My dad's internist also sat with me while I waited for mom, her name is Dr. Crabtree.  She is very nice.  Actually everyone at the hospital was extremely nice!  When mom arrived, she saw me as Dr. Crabtree led her into the visitor waiting room and she knew.  It was all over my face.  I think I was more devastated for her, my father was the love of my mother's life.  They had been married 38 years and one month when he died.  It's rare that people stay together that long anymore and my parents had a really great love affair.

We were taken into dad's room to see him.  I can't really get the image of dad out of my head, his body laying there on the bed.  He was cold to the touch but I kept thinking that at any moment he'd take a deep breath and open his eyes and smile at us.  I kept thinking I saw his chest move, but then I'd blink and reality would set in again. my eyes were playing tricks on me.  My mother was able to call our good friend, CC, who contacted her son, Andrew and both came to the hospital.  Andrew got to us first, and it was really great having him there!  Dad's clinical drug trial oncologist, Dr. Henshaw, came and spoke to my mom about a recent CAT scan result -- dad's cancer had spread to his bones, there were tumors in his spine.  It seems the trial drug didn't work for him.

We started making phone calls.  Nana called my mom (because she had called her, right after the hospital called and Nana wasn't able to get the phone) and I told Nana that dad was gone.  She said for mom to call her later.  Then, mom had to call Granny Wheez (Louise, my dad's mother) and she hesitated.  I knew this was going to be a difficult call for her, and she dialed and got Louise on the phone but wasn't completely able to give Louise the details, so I took mom's phone from her and went into the hallway to tell Louise that dad, her son, was gone.  CC and Andrew also made calls to Steve (husband/dad) to let him know what happened and that mom was going to need his assistance with preparing for dad's funeral.

I also made some calls, during the course of the day both while we were at the hospital as well as once I got home.  I called my Judge and let him know that my father had died.  I then called my godparents, Charlie and Jan, and left messages for both of them.  That was a difficult call for me, the one to Charlie.  He's my father's best friend and I just couldn't believe I was delivering this kind of news to him.  I then called my best friend Christine, and left a message for her.  Her phone was off and I knew she was deeply involved in the funeral for her own mother, who passed away on July 15th.  I hated having to tell her my news.  I had purposely not told her that my father was in the hospital because I knew she was mourning the loss of her mother and I didn't want to stress her out.  I figured dad would get out of the hospital that Sunday, July 24th so there was no reason for me to stress her out.  Then, he was gone and I knew I had to tell her!  After Christine, I called Pastor Bruce and Mary, telling them about dad and giving them my mother's cellular and home phone numbers so they could get in touch with her about the service.

On July 23rd, thanks to CC's diligence, we went to an appointment at Olinger Mortuary.  CC had made several phone calls shortly after arriving at the hospital on July 22nd and she got a list together of people who would assist with the funeral at the USAFA cemetery.  So, we met with Stan, who was so compassionate and sincere and very helpful.  He was just very HUMAN!  It was a nice experience, working with him to pick dad's urn.  My father wanted to be cremated and we picked out a really beautiful urn, I think he would have really liked it if he had been picking it out himself.

I am so very grateful for the staff and doctors at Presbyterian-St. Lukes hospital.  They were very kind and gentle when delivering the news to both myself and my mother.  I am very glad that United Airlines gave my mother and CC special security passes so they could get to the gate to meet my sister when her flight landed.  I am so grateful for Stan at Olinger Mortuary, he was so nice!  I owe a huge thanks to Steve, CC and Andrew.  They've known us forever (Steve and Dad were classmates) and I think mom, my sis and I would have been lost without their help!

We buried my father on July 30th at the United States Air Force Academy cemetery.  He was buried with full military honors.  He received the 21 Gun Salute and Taps was played.  Even though we were authorized to have it, unfortunately the Missing Man flyby did not happen.  My mother was given the US flag and the commander who gave it to her said "On behalf of the President of the United States and a grateful nation it is my honor to present you with this US flag" and he saluted her.  That broke my heart!  My mother is a widow!  Of all the things in this world that I think are grossly unfair, the biggest is that my mother is a widow at the age of 61!

I knew that one day my father would die.  It's part of our life cycle: birth, growth, death.  I just didn't think he'd be gone this quickly or suddenly.  He looked fine Wednesday night when I saw him.  I thought we had a few more years with him.  I was really looking forward to telling him how I did in a writing contest I entered (I won't know where I stand until October/November).  I was hoping to see him play with at least one grandchild (neither my sister nor I have children yet).  I wanted to throw a huge 40th Wedding Anniversary party for my parents.  I just thought I had more time with him.

It's been a difficult month.  I'm not doing okay, although I tell people that I am.  I am pretty damn good actress, I should get a freaking Oscar!  I'm going to go see a counselor and I know it will help.  I do need help with my grief.  I need to heal.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

My dad

My father is currently in the hospital.  He is having issues with his breathing and the internist is having difficulties pin-pointing what is going on with him.  My father is 61 years old and is battling cancer for a third time within a 4 year period.

My father was first diagnosed with cancer in September 2006.  The cancer was in his bladder and his oncologist took out his bladder, building a new one out of a part of his intestine.  My father recovered faster than expected and his new bladder proved strong and stable.  We were all extremely happy and relieved.  After being on medical leave, he was able to go back to work in April 2007.  My father loves his job -- he's a pilot.  He flew in the Air Force for 20 years, retired and immediately went to fly for the airlines.  I'm not going to name the airline here, it's name isn't important.  What is important is that my father was living his dream and loving every minute of it.

So, in March 2009 my father felt some lumps in his groin area when he urinated and made an appointment with his doctor to see what it might be.  I have to admit, my hope was that it was just a build-up of scar tissue that could be removed and nothing more.  On my father's 60th birthday, he informed me that his cancer was back.  I was really upset by that news.  I had convinced myself that it was just scar tissue and had refused to even let the idea of cancer trickle back into my head.  So, his oncologist started him on chemotherapy and radiation.  This cancer was pretty aggressive.  It spread from his groin to his shoulder, spine and lymph nodes -- this usually indicates terminal cancer.  The doctor got more aggressive with the chemo and radiation and my father was at the cancer center 3 days a week.  He had side effects off and on during his treatment.  By June 2009, the tumors were completely gone but the oncologist had concerns about stopping treatment, so my father continued.  In February 2010, the oncologist decided that dad had been doing chemo and radiation long enough and the tumors had not returned so he stopped treatment.  We all thought dad was in remission and things would go back to normal.  During that treatment period, my father medically retired from the airlines, retiring from his dream 5 years before the mandatory retirement age of 65.

April 2010 dad's cancer came back.  This time it was in his liver and wasn't moving.  Even though the oncologist had stopped the treatments, he hadn't stopped the regular scans.  My father had a routine PET scan and that's when they found the tumors.  So, the oncologist and my dad started getting things set up for him to enter into a clinical trial for a new cancer drug.  My father was accepted into the clinical trial and initially had a really great beginning.  His 2 week check-up was really good and his bloodwork was really great!  Then, last week (the week of July 12, 2010) dad started vomiting.  He had some days where he kept stuff down, and he had some days where he didn't.  By Thursday of that week, he was feeling a little better and actually went to the movies.  But by late Sunday night/early Monday morning, he was in a lot of pain and having trouble breathing.  He had an appointment at the clinical trial center so he and my mom did their best to make him comfortable until his appointment time.  Upon arriving at the cancer center, dad was put on oxygen, checked by the oncologist and rushed to the ER of the nearby Presbyterian St. Lukes Hospital.  By 4pm Monday, July 19, 2010 my father had been admitted as a patient and was on 24/7 oxygen.  The ER doctors, internist and my father's oncologist all believed there was a blood clot somewhere in his body, which was causing the oxygen issues and the pain.  He was placed on Heparin and Coumadin to break down the clot.  He's been at the hospital ever since.

It's hard seeing my father struggle for air.  He's 61 years old and has always been a strong man and now cancer has brought him down.  I hate that!  I'm very angry over a lot of things with this cancer and am feeling extremely desperate.  I know that science and medicine make huge advancements every day.  I know that every day, new cancer drugs are tested and developed and put before the FDA for human clinical trials.  My father is in one of those.  Right now he can't continue in the trial until his oxygen levels are normal.  All of the x-rays and CAT scans show no clot, so why can't he breathe?  He doesn't have pneumonia, so why can't he breathe?  What the hell is going on?  Why can't he breathe?  I don't get it at all!

I haven't been able to sleep.  I went to bed at about 1030pm last night (July 21) and was awakened by a motorcycle revving its engine outside my building at 1230am (July 22), dozed off and was awakened again by the complex's sprinkler system at 230am and I've been awake ever since.  I decided to get up and try to workout but I couldn't focus so I half-assed a 20 minute Brazilian Body workout and did 15 minutes of yoga.  I haven't had a good night's sleep in a year.  I'd like to be able to go to bed at 9pm and not wake up again until my alarm went off, but for some reason that hasn't happened.  I'm troubled by concerns over my father, my disappointment with my job and a failing relationship with my sister.  Having my father in the hospital right now is not really helping my peace of mind or my stress.  Right now, I feel extremely low and extremely alone.  Cancer sucks!  I don't really think I can handle losing anymore loved ones to it so if there is a someone out there reading this, if you could add your prayers and positive thoughts to mine, I'd greatly appreciate it!

Monday, July 19, 2010


I have started training for a 5K -- the Skirt Sports Skirt Chaser 5K to be held on August 28th in the Cherry Creek neighborhood of Denver.  I have never really trained for a 5K before and I have only walked in one, the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure back in 2007.  I am actually very excited about my training though.  I'm actually part of a team and have received a complete training program that breaks down training each week for 7 weeks.  I am now in Week 2.

Back in June, I decided to apply to be part of Team Kick Start through the Skirt Sports website.  I am pretty out of shape for a 34 year old woman.  I can't really tell when the last time was that I worked out.  I'm really disappointed in my sedentary lifestyle.  I used to be a ballet dancer, I took lessons for 10 years.  I used to love dancing but then I sort of lost the desire to dance and perform and started sitting and reading a lot.  I read a lot of books, I enjoy fiction and non-fiction.  So, instead of working out I grabbed a book and sat on the couch with a cup of tea and read.  I also knit and crochet, which are also very sedentary hobbies.  So, I'm lazy.  Well, April of this year my father found out his cancer was back for a third time in a 4 year period.  I got angry!  I was pissed that daddy's cancer was back again!  He had only been in remission 10 months this time around and it was back!  I wanted to hit something!  Then, I sat down and calmed down and took a long hard look at myself.  I have a family history of cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.  My paternal grandmother had a triple bypass in December 2008.  My paternal grandfather was diagnosed with diabetes about 5 years ago.  My maternal grandfather was diagnosed with prostate cancer at age 88 then went on oxygen for emphysema and passed away in November 2009 at the age of 93.  My maternal grandmother suffers from high blood cholesterol and high blood pressure.  Actually, all of my grandparents have the cholesterol and blood pressure issues.  So, knowing that there is all of this stuff in my family and that my father has cancer again, I decided I needed to take action with my own body.

So, I applied for Team Kick Start.  I wasn't really expecting to be picked and then I got the email -- I'm part of the team.  Wow!  I had an intense moment of excitement and then a lingering moment of fear.  Am I going to be able to succeed?  Am I going to meet my goal to start having a healthier lifestyle?  Boy, I certainly hope so.  My goal with this 5K is to be able to walk it at a good pace that gets my heart rate up and my body sweating and feel really good and exhilarated when I cross the finish line.  If I manage to comfortable walk 5K during my training weeks, I might even try to add some running, but right now I'm walking.  I'm feeling really great!  I'm actually looking forward to getting home and walking around the lake at Clement Park in the evenings (even though it has been extremely hot, with temps in the 90s and even 100).  I'm doing yoga at home in the mornings.  Boy, yoga is harder than I thought, but I like it!

Onward and upward is all I can say right now!  I have every intention of walking this 5K in 1 hour or less and crossing that finish line with a huge smile on my face and tons of joy, pleasure and excitement.  I am NOT going to cross that line exhausted, gasping for air!  I will succeed and I will keep the training going, I will keep walking as part of my life and eventually add running to it.  There are two books that have been recommended by the Team Personal Motivators that I am going to purchase: ChiWalking and ChiRunning.  I think they both are going to open my mind to whole new ways of looking at walking and running.

Next stop: Boulder Running Company to have my stride examined and to purchase new sneakers!