Angela Amman

Starts and stops and restarts

First Detroit Tigers game The Detroit Tigers currently sit at four (give or take) games below a 0.500 season, and five (give or take) games back from a Wild Card spot in the Major League baseball playoffs. They lost the one game I attended this season, which doesn’t make me feel like I bring bad luck because they’ve lost a bunch of games.

Still, whenever they put together a few wins, which happened last week, the commentators start talking about streaks and climbing up in the standings and making a run for a strong finish. Then they manage to lose another handful of games in a row, and people start whispering about next year even though there are bunches of games left to be played this season.

I feel a little bit like that about my summer.

Since school ended in June, with endless days gleaming ahead like sun setting over Lake Michigan, I’ve felt the push and pull of moving forward with goals — running, writing, house projects, summer work packets for the kids — and set backs — lazy mornings, late night Netflix viewing, runs skipped in favor of finally sleeping in our freshly painted bedroom for just an extra hour.

We’ve had spans of gorgeous days — family time, friends visiting from across the country, three blissful days in northern Michigan — and bursts of unexpected beauty, like a full rainbow leading us home after a rainstorm.

I want to hold onto those moments as we close out summer. I want to banish the guilt over lapsed to-do lists and missed goals, though I know some of it will be verbally cursed under my breath as I struggle to catch up when fall encroaches on summer’s warmth.

The guilt, I know, is ridiculous. Our summer isn’t like a baseball season. We aren’t getting paid for this alternately productive and lazy life. No one stands at a Labor Day gate and checks off summer accomplishments versus intentions.

Fall and winter loom, and days unfold like an accordion, and I know I need to make a little more progress than I did these last few months.

But for now, there are sweaty brows to be kissed and a few bits of Mackinac fudge left to sweeten the last days of summer.

I plan to savor both.

What’s been your favorite part of this summer?

Beat by the heat

heat image

Zoo selfie with friends – heat imaging version

I spent part of the night in Dylan’s bottom bunk, trying to find a comfortable spot on a pillow that isn’t mine. He crawled into our bed after having a bad dream — again. His racing heart slowed almost immediately as I rubbed his back, and I couldn’t bear to shuttle him back to his room but he’s beginning to crowd me out of the bed when snuggled between Ryan and me.

My alarm sounded too soon. It felt like only minutes since I’d finally fallen asleep in the bed that fits him perfectly and hides all sorts of treasures that disrupt comfort. LEGO mini-figs and too many stuffed animals make him feel secure and make me feel like I’m sleeping in a toy store.

I pulled on running clothes, already a little tired, a little uncertain about the six miles I wanted to accomplish. The heat and humidity, which I typically welcome, mocked me as I walked out the door. With heavy legs, I began my run, expecting them to find their groove somewhere down the street.

They never did.

I spent the majority of my run calculating how much water I’d consumed the day before (not enough,) what I’d eaten (probably too much,) and how many more minutes I could possibly make it before walking. I pushed my legs and my lungs, trying to tick off minutes and tenths of a mile as my sore calf started to cramp. After a walk break and another attempt and yet another walk break, I stopped my watch and walked most of the way home.

Running challenges frustrate me and take off a little of the shine that make running my favorite fitness activity.

Ten minutes after cooling down, I was angry with myself for not pushing harder, for not finishing the miles I’d planned to accomplish. I’d registered for an October half-marathon with plans of being in better shape, being a little lighter, just being in a better place. I hadn’t expected to be inching toward the end of August with tight rings fighting against the dampness in the air.

I’m trying to tell myself we’re all just at this weird point in the summer, Back to school looms with its schedules and routines. I want to squeeze out all the beauty left in summer, but the kids are maybe, just a little, getting sick of each other and of me.

More water, better nutrition, and maybe slightly less humidity will hopefully combine for better running in the upcoming weeks.

Well, after my fudge-saltwater taffy-ice cream treats from Mackinaw…

How do you move past a bad — ok, really terrible — workout? 

Down the pop lyric rabbit hole

pop lyrics

The Rolling Stones – bringing you suggestive pop lyrics for over 50 years

While we have Kidz Bop on heavy rotation in the car, our personal listening habits mean the kids hear plenty of music not particularly intended for their ears. Their musical immersion ranges from Ryan’s iconic Rolling Stones to my heavy-rotation Top 40, and though we do our best to keep explicit music from them, some lyrics they hear pose mind-boggling questions.

Much of the music I enjoy centers on the danceability-runnability-bouncability of it. I let the cadence of songs seep into my subconsciousness, and sometimes I don’t pay close enough attention to the words I’m singing until I hear them away from the music and the autotuned voice coming through the speakers.

When your seven-year old wanders around singing snippets of songs, the lyrics take on a haunting quality.

I’ve spent too much time the last few days wondering exactly what a “booty like a Cadillac” looks like.

I’d steeled myself for answering questions about other parts of “Bang, Bang.” With lines like, “you need a bad girl to blow your mind,” and “back, backseat of my car,” I figured it was only time before questions came.

Yet “booty like a Cadillac” raised more questions for me than it has for them, maybe in part because they think saying “booty” at all is so hilarious they haven’t even considered the Cadillac part of the line.

I, however, am still pondering.

Does it simply mean a great butt? A Cadillac’s a fancy car, so that makes sense, but is it a particular kind of great butt?

According to Urban Dictionary — where else would I go to decipher pop culture lyrics before scrubbing my eyeballs and retreating to a corner to cry about the downfall of civilized society? — a “Cadillac Booty” is “Being endowed with a rump sculpted in the form of a luxury branded motor vehicle.”

booty like a Cadillac

Then I googled Cadillacs for research, because generally when I think of Cadillacs, I think of my old friend Elise’s mom’s car. Sleek and yellow, with buttery leather interior. I remember loving it — but I never thought of it as a particularly sexy, booty-enviable automobile.

I’m still not sure what exactly a booty like a Cadillac looks like, but I’m glad they’ve moved onto other songs. Now I just hope no one asks about Taylor Swift’s tight-little-skirt in Style

Letting go of stability

Brooks Glycerin Half marathon training brings out equal parts excitement and nerves for me. I know I’ll never train speed into my legs, but I look forward to the accomplishment, the feeling of excitement knowing I pushed my body past its normal comfort level for weeks on end.

Weeks of treadmill training — the gym shower was a lifesaver during our bathroom renovations — made coming back to the hills around our house both thrilling and a little painful. My hip’s been nagging me, despite foam rolling and rest days, and since I needed new shoes anyway I decided to chat with the people at my favorite running store.

Years ago, I transitioned to stability running shoes. They kept my feet steady and straight, making sure I didn’t roll too far in as I ran. I came to depend on that support, and I never thought that much about my stride — until I started to feel twinges of pain.

In between explaining to my kids why I wasn’t going to buy them an iPhone armband — reason one, neither has a phone or their own electronic device — I explained my running concerns to the patient people at the running store. They looked at my shoes and my gait and my arch and made a recommendation for a different sort of shoe — a neutral running shoe, a shoe with less support instead of more.

Their recommendation didn’t surprise me; I read running blogs and magazines and did research about stretching and other solutions to my sore hip.

Still, lacing up my new shoes this morning worried me. Their cushy lightness felt fantastic, their bright pinkness made me smile, and I knew — logically — even if they’re the wrong shoes for me, a three-mile run in anything wasn’t going to shatter my body like glass.

The stability in my old shoes gave me a false sense of security. I started to depend on the internal structure of the shoes to keep my running steady, instead of relying on the feel of my feet against the pavement. I need to learn to trust my feet again, to find my footing and run with confidence and strength.

But it’s hard.

The kids are going back to school in a month, which is later than a lot of people, so I shouldn’t complain. I love having them home with me, though, despite the bickering and the constant questioning about what we’re doing next, and the requests for insane things like the iPhone running armband. I’m comforted by their presence, by knowing they’re within earshot even if they’re playing outside while I’m making dinner.

I’ll have to help them pack their backpacks and negotiate the fine line between healthy lunches and food they’ll eat consistently. I’ll have to kiss them goodbye and let them walk into their beloved school without the stability of knowing they’re within earshot. They’re not worried; they’re ready to stand on their own.

But I’ll miss them.

It’s hard.

Are your kids back at school yet?

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