Tuesday, January 29, 2008

self portrait tuesday - celebration theme

Here's my first entry for my self portrait challenge comeback.

My ten year wedding anniversary is next month, on Valentine's Day. Ten years is the diamond anniversary. Husband and I got ourselves inked to celebrate. Because marriage is one thing, but tattoos are permanent! It must be true love.
This is my 'Til the Wheels Fall Off Tribute
Papi got this one of me. Notice the diamond in both ... for ten years?

It's good to be back.

Monday, January 28, 2008

40 Things To Do in 2008

I guess I should've written this after my fortieth birthday, but whatever. I'm ganking this list from hulaseventy. I'm writing this post to myself, really, because I miss a long, possibly-boring-to-others list. It makes me feel organized. And hopeful. God knows I'm always trying to score more of that.

Here we go . . .

1. Bake more for good causes
2. Get the full-back tattoo finished
3. Begin raising a teenager
4. Design and sew my own aprons
5. Score a sewing machine
6. Oh yea, learn how to use a sewing machine (This is the year, I know it!)
7. Teach the girls how to sew
8. Hire a housecleaning service every other week. I'm sick of scrubbing floors too.
9. Volunteer at Animal Acres shoveling stalls
10. Walk a marathon!
11. Bake more bread
12. Read a book, maybe? Four this year? I can't tell if that's underachieving or overachieving
13. Write fiction five hours a week
14. Go to San Francisco to see Betsy in the spring or summer
15. Cook more from scratch
16. Learn every tree in Santa Monica
17. Bake for a wedding
18. Get Mr. Mario a friend. Or maybe this friend
19. Print this list out and remember to read it; daily might be good
20. Candy Meyer lemon slices
21. Have coffee/dinner with my friends more, without children
22. Take a weekend trip with Husband to somewhere we've never been
23. Submit two stories for publication
24. I finish what I start
25. Have the whole family go by train to visit Grandma Carmen
26. Plug into my iPod when Husband wants to watch stupid TV shows -- I don't have to watch!
27. Enjoy the things that I actually really like about my day job
28. Annihilate debt
29 Get my good knives sharpened at least every other month - makes a huge difference
30. Successfully predict this year's college hoops champion for my own March Madness pool (This is the year, I know it!)
31. Get a pedicure now and again?
32. Finally take the girls to the renovated and fantastic Griffith Observatory.
33. Work on strength
34. Dude, stretch
35. Resume self portrait tuesdays
36. Try a lil guerrilla art. (Stolen right off of hula seventy's list.)
37. Get up early, go to bed late. Screw it. How else am I gonna squeeze my stuff in?
38. Stay patient
39. Volunteer for Mina's classroom
40. Don't give up on nothin'

Friday, January 25, 2008

Swivel Hips Rivera

I put the finishing touches on a busted hip flexor Sunday night. If it wasn't jacked before, ooo lawd, it was on fire come Monday morning. It didn't occur to me that salsa dancing could wreck it so. A couple women from Husband's tennis circle were gonna check out a spot in the Marina on Sunday. Since I'd botched my walk earlier, I thought dancing would be a good supplemental cardio. Y'know, cross training? And I was jonsing bad to cut a rug.

I sipped a five dollar AƱejo rum and diet and watched my friends take the lesson before the club popped off. One instructor looked like Margaret Cho in a short flowy skirt and the other instructor looked like Jeff Daniels. A smooth buzz crept up and I giggled to myself watching the scene.

After the lesson we grabbed a table, talked tennis. The lights dimmed. The DJ spun the good CD's. After I was asked to dance the first time, I didn't sit down again until two hours had passed. I danced almost every song. I danced with a man with iron hair in his early 70's. He was wearing a maroon Member's Only jacket and a navy and silver striped tie. His name was Arthur and he smelled like sweet baby powder. When we danced he said, "I'm taking voice lessons at Santa Monica College, old classic stuff like Sinatra." I said, "That's great!" He said, "You're like a movie star." I said, "Nu-uh, Arthur." "Yea, from my era," he said, "you don't stop smiling when you dance." Arthur wasn't a good dancer, but his charm almost made up for it. He asked a girl from my table to dance next and before she was lead away she gave me a worried look. "Oh Arthur?" I said reassuring her, "he smells great." I danced with a serious young man with no eyelids and a wrinkled forehead. He wore black jeans, polished shoes and an oversized box of a shirt in plaid. He danced well with a strong subtle lead and his sense of rhythm was spot on. I said, "Where are you from?" thinking he was Dominican or Puerto Rican. He said, "Hawthorne" which is a working-class hood on the southern fringes of Los Angeles County. I laughed, "Hawthorne? I thought you were Dominican." His seriousness broke into a shy smile of brilliant teeth. He said, "Naw." He'd only been dancing a year. I told him he was better than most of the jokers in the club. I danced with a tall skinny man from Alberta. His hair looked like a crown of tumbleweeds. He said he danced ballroom in Canada. He wasn't used to how we dance in California. I said, "How do we dance?" He said, "In circles, like this." I said, "How do you dance?" He said, "More linear, like this." I said, "Dance how you want. I just follow." I danced with a Mexican cat that was shaped like a beachball. He had fat lips and capped teeth and he was probably one of the better dancers in the place. Spins were his specialty; he lead and I spun.

The dance floor was small and narrow crammed between the bar and a covered patio. The floor was made of old plywood and outlined by a tiny raised border. Dancers spilled beyond the floor and onto uneven paver tiles. Sometimes I was caught dancing between the floor and the tiles, trying not to nick the border with my heels. I could feel the deep groves between the tiles. Looking at the floor before I danced made me uneasy, but once I stepped back into the grove, nothing else mattered but the music and dancing to it. I would've danced on rotting planks and mesh netting if I had to. But in hindsight, the constant adjustment was probably murder on my hip. I didn't feel a thing dancing, but Monday morning when I got up it felt like a steel spike was jammed into my hip bone "Oooo," I said rubbing the spot as I limped to the bathroom. I could feel it grinding in there like razors had been implanted into the socket.

I took three days off from training. Yesterday was my first day back. I took it slowly and got in a mild two and a half miles. I patted myself on the back for taking rest days when in my younger years I would've bullied myself through the pain like a fool. I have, however, been worried that I wouldn't be able to dance for a while. Every second of Sunday night was worth every sore second since. If my friends asked me to go dancing again this weekend, fuck it, I'd go, and then maybe try to find some sort of hip sling.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Bench-Like Roots?

When I walked along San Vicente yesterday, I noticed that the coral trees were hardly the way I had described. Or more correctly, they weren't nearly what I picture when my eyes are closed. I was honestly baffled by how my perception was so skewed. The trunks are not grey-white at all. They look more like aged skin, tanned with parts glowing a melon color. The leaves are not huge and waxy. Those leaves are on the trees across the street from the coral trees. The roots are not even close to the size of benches and though they are certainly gnarled and out of control they look more like a pile of shorn dreadlocks. The trees were newly pruned on Sunday morning which made them looks smaller, but they were seriously puny compared to the childhood image I have plastered over them even when I live right next to them still! I'm kinda of blown away by this.

Sunday's walk was hard. I barely made six miles before I called it a morning. My left hip flexor is really tender. I'm trying to figure out why because when I walk I don't really feel the flexor, but an hour after being home it feels raw and agitated. I felt restless the entire walk; complaining about the route I had mapped out. Complaining about everything. I was annoying. I was even wearing my new shirt I had printed that read: "Walking to Prevent Animal Cruelty, www.humanecalifornia.org" I was jazzed about wearing it, believing somebody would honestly write down the site as I strode by. I'm naively spreading awareness by the mile! I should've gotten the shirts that Mandy and I thought up instead. She and I can spend an hour naming or renaming things. The best of the day was Mandy's slogan: "Let the Pigs Turn, Bitches!" I was really close to getting that printed up. So anyway, being all pumped up wearing my corny shirt didn't keep me from hobbling home after an hour and a half of whining. I couldn't take myself.

Mina and I teamed up to gather signatures outside of the Co-op on Saturday. All sales people should consider taking a cute kid with them on cold calls. When somebody was walking fast trying avoiding eye contact with me, Mina would step directly into the their path: "Do you want to help stop animal cruelty?" I've never seen so many hardened and preoccupied faces soften. Many people thanked her for her work and for what she was doing and she blushed and looked at me smiling largely. She brought along a ring that Maya had given her. She said it was her lucky ring and we passed it back and forth during the course of the morning. Collecting signatures isn't the easiest of work especially when people just want to buy a loaf of bread or a goddman shot of wheatgrass. For the most part though, the Co-op was a soft sell and people were really nice and responsive. The only fired-up debates I got were why weren't we doing more; this isn't enough! "I hear you," I'd say. Lil' Mina and I gathered fifty signatures in two hours, which fluffs my feathers until I get the emails about how behind we are with the bottom-line number of signatures. Man, we only have until Feb 22nd. Jump in the movement here if you're able.

Maya broke the news about turning vegan to more conservative family members this weekend. I think she was hoping it would all go well and that would be that, but it had it's dips too. I forget how extreme veganism seems to a more mainstream group when obviously it doesn't seem at all extreme to me. It's ironic really that Maya spends so much time looking into nutritional facts to make sure she can explain that all her bases are covered; to prove that she is not only eating healthily, but that it's the pinnacle of health when a meat-eating kid's diet is hardly questioned at all. They can gobble all kinds of shittiness without feeling the need to recite the protein or fat or mineral content. It's becoming clear that it's more important to pass on a strong sense of conviction than it is to pass on tips about veganism. I just think for any decision she makes she has to be able to think independently and bravely speak her mind on it. She reached out to me this weekend for some help when she felt pressured by questions about being a vegan. I didn't want to say too much because fighting your own battles is a foundation to having a good sense of conviction. I did tell her that people are always going to ask questions or not understand things. I told her to keep educating herself so questions didn't fluster her and that if she really believes in this -- or anything else -- then she needs to express it in a loving and thoughtful way. I told her everything was going to be alright.

Monday, January 14, 2008


Six forty-five on Sunday morning was an opportunity to be especially whiny. It was a private kind of whine where I twisted my body against soft warm sheets and made a cry-baby face silently. Then I got up. I'm a meticulous prep girl. My clothes and sneakers were already laid out in the bathroom. I put them on, brushed my teeth, grabbed my packed fanny pack and I was out.

Outside, it was quiet and some kind of gorgeousness was building. It was mild, barely cold, a breeze was laced with California springtime already. The monster ficus trees that dominate Santa Monica sidewalks and canopy over the roads were lit peach and gold. Turning up 24th Street the ficus line turned into a procession of thick and unruly pines. Across Georgia Avenue and up Moreno, the trees turned into a neat, clean-poled row of skinny palms, standing high and arching west; they look molded like stretched sugar. Mina always worries about the tall thin palms, that they'll fall down in the wind. I reassure her but wonder myself. They look precarious, bending too easily towards the ocean. This part of Santa Monica is luxurious. Every home on these streets is different, most are over sized and overindulgent. I sniff my nose at the excess, but sometimes I find myself stopped in front of a large California Craftsman staring at the dark brown porch spanning the facade. I look at the the wide heavy wood door with the grand sage wreath and a twisted black iron knocker in the shape of a leaf, and I let myself accept that it's a fantastic house. I breathe in one coveted wish, and that's it. I always steal looks into the bevel glass windows of these houses and peep out paintings and bookshelves and grand pianos. I die to see the kitchens or the dining rooms; sometimes I get the corner of an island under a perfect cluster of hanging copper pots or the antique curve of a dining table's leg. I know many of these houses by heart. I've schlepped and stolen looks at this neighborhood since I was a kid. What I don't see hardly are the people who live in these houses. Sometimes I see someone be-robed sneaking out to snag the paper that is thrown on the sidewalk many yards from the front door. But other than that these residents seem locked away from each other, which keeps me from wanting any of it that badly. I'll take my crammed and crumbling courtyard and constant neighborly interaction gladly, gratefully.

I have grown up worshipping the gigantic coral trees on San Vicente. They are the royalty of our local trees. They stamp their way in the grassy median from Brentwood down to the ocean like dinosaur tracks. The scarred grey-white trunks are certainly impressive but the roots are the thing; they wave up and around and settle in the dirt wherever they like, tripping up runners and walkers. They are big enough to pose as benches. The trees' leaves are waxy and the size of my face. And the ignition of the coral blossoms in spring is spectacular.

On San Vicente I finally plugged in my iPod to find that the battery was dead. I got a little nervous because twelve miles is a long way without the distraction. I wrapped the headphones around the iPod and shoved it back into my fanny pack. I turn up Barrington to trek the hill up to Sunset. It was getting warm.

Maya told me about Devon on Friday. Devon is a girl Maya danced with in hip hop last year. Devon's mom died on Thursday night of lymphoma. At first I didn't catch on to Maya's extra clinginess. She told me that a few of her friends had sat around and talked about what they'd do if their moms had died. I've been reassuring her all weekend. I mean, I can't guarantee anything obviously, but my girl has been worried and extra lovey and the only right thing to do in my mind was to lie to her face and say that I'd never die.

Sunset hardly has a sidewalk. I walked on a thin, crude pouring of asphalt. A couple patches had wood boards. This part of the boulevard is curvy and beautiful, lined with sky-touching eucalyptus trees. I imagined it's what another state looks like, but I couldn't think of which. Every car on Sunset sped. It was nerve wracking and I did this part of the walk faster than I had intended. Down Allenford the houses are neat and meticulously manicured. On one lawn there were lifesized iron-cast statues of three children playing: A boy frozen while pushing a laughing girl on an iron swing and one girl reading on a bench. Each statue had a wool cap awkwardly placed on their heads, the owner's touch. Some days I laugh when I pass it, but most times I walk by eyeing it suspiciously.

I tried to avoid overthinking my work situation. Or what I'm trying to do next. This is a constant mental wrestling match. Baking is a form of advocacy . . . save the world through baking? Uh, I don't know. Every time my mind wanders to writing, my stomach hurts a little. A guilt-type hurt. My written stuff feels abandoned. I can't help but think it's all tied together some how. I just have no clue how right now. It will take hours more of walking to sort out.

By the time I reached Ocean Avenue, it was after nine. Locals and tourists were out ogling the view from the bluff, walking dogs, carrying sleeved hot drinks. Homeless were maneuvering their way through them; politely carrying rolled packs and trying to seem invisible. We all want to get our answers from the ocean in peace.

When I hit Wilshire, I was fidgety. My hips and every muscle around my thighs were so tight that I went up and down curbs with a grimace. With much relief my feet were golden though. I had put gel inserts in my shoes and since the balls of my feet don't feel like they'll spontaneously combusted after an hour. I started to ask myself why I was doing this. Who plans to walk for three hours on a Sunday? Who walks 12 miles? If this had just been one of my hair-brained ideas to yet again reinvent my exercise regime, I could've justified punking out I'm sure. But I had tricked myself. The idea of doing something this extreme when it was for something other than myself was exactly how I would stay dedicated. And for the last mile I had to convince myself that this was worth it. Using my own health to promote awareness, fundraising to relieve just a small amount of suffering -- for the simple fucking sake of thinking beyond myself . . .arrgg, I said all these things over and over during the last few blocks.

The sun was pretty strong when I leaned my hand against the ficus tree in front of my apartment building. This particular tree drops an excessive amount of olive-sized fruit that pelts the sidewalks and parked cars. We can't avoid stepping on them and they get jammed in our tread. I let myself into the front gate and already felt some tension ease from my legs. I waved to my downstairs neighbors before I limped up the stairs to my girls who were still in their pajamas.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Young Vegans Part II

After dinner, Maya, Mina and I went down to the Third Street Promenade, our big popular outdoor mall, to check out a vegan outreach demonstration that was going to couple animal-cruelty videos with collecting signatures for the Farm Animals Protection Initiative . I was going to try to collect signatures too while I was down there.

Maya told Ally and Tasha that they should come down too. I was nervous, but I told Maya I would be open. If Maya was willing, I had to be willing too. I think there are tremendous things to be said for second chances, or at least to filing down the edges of a first impression. Out on the street and on their best behavior because of my constant presence, the girls were fantastic, all of them. They were diligent and devoted; fearlessly handing out fliers relating to the initiative and directing anyone who hesitated long enough towards signing the petition. The vegan outreach booth was somber, it set a tone in contrast to the girls' bubbly and enthusiastic approach. We started walking up the promenade away from the demonstration and the girls came more alive, handing out fliers asking passing people if they wanted to sign to help stop animal cruelty. If only some refused Maya, Ally and Tasha, not many could resist Mina. She handed out the most fliers. When the slightest interest was shown, the older girls sweetly said, "It will only take two seconds to sign," and in I came for the close explaining the measure more, handing them the pen. It was accidentally brilliant; the precious opening and a quick close with hardly an effort. I told the girls nonstop how great they were and when I looked Ally in her eyes and told her how great she did, what a real difference she made, she smiled a child's smile and blushed. I hugged her before she left with her mom.

And Maya, Mina and I are taking our act on the road. We're going to try the adorable one-two punch on Sunday to collect signatures outside our Co-op.

Tonight, when the girls were tucked in their beds, which run parallel to each other and are separated by only a foot and a half, they chattered all jazzed up about the experience. Maya said, "Do you think we really made a difference? I mean, I feel like we did." I said, "We are thirty signatures closer all because of you guys." I'm pretty jazzed myself.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Lessons of a Young Vegan

Maya has started storming down her own animal-rights war path. She's all fired up. Around Christmas she read a pamphlet about how turkeys are raised. It was graphic and nauseating. And later she cried her eyes out asking me why people were so mean. She resolved to become an animal rights activist! That she would start a club at school! She said, "Somebody told me I'd make a good lawyer. I'm going to be an animal-rights lawyer." I told her all those things were fantastic. She said, "I want to be vegan."

In the fiery moments of truth, resolutions made are powerful and well-intended. I know this to be true of all people no matter the age. I knew it was not for me to follow up on any of the world-changing plans Maya had made in the midst of her emotional epiphany. But I proudly watched as she read information and animal-rights sites on her own during the next few days. I watched her email PETAKids directly and ask advise to which she received a personal response pledging to send her stickers and comic books for her newly formed animal-rights group for kids. I answered all her questions about veganism. I showed her how to read food labels and made her read nutritional guides for vegans. Though her loyalty is rightfully with the welfare of animals, her responsibility to her health is key. Armed with knowledge, she could optimally serve both. It can't all be cereal and cupcakes, regrettably. For 2008, she made the commitment and became a vegan. She's a dream vegan. Though there was one little incident where she snidely asked me if what I was eating was vegan. I was like, "Bro, come on." She got a nice lecture on being judgemental and self righteous; let's squash those vegan stereotypes! And there was that other time when she went to a local breakfast joint with Papi and Mina and came back dragging her feet and sighing dramatically, whoaing the plight of a vegan having had a salad for breakfast. I quickly ended that shit too. I asked her if she ever heard me say that veganism was hard. She thought and said no. I told her that's because I love every aspect of it and if it's terribly hard and if she feels the need to tell us and everyone else about how hard it is, then don't become vegan yet. She was startled by my response when she clearly was looking for an insider's validation. "Nobody likes a (vegan) martyr, Maya. You should consider yourself lucky that you don't have to eat 99% of the junk served at a mainstream restaurant. It's all just crap anyway." "I was nervous," she admitted, "and couldn't think of anything other than a salad to order." I told her she was just learning and it was ok. Plain oatmeal with fruit is a safe bet at a breakfast place. "Oh yea," she said in a heart-breaking way. I knew she was still hungry so I made her sprouted toast with peanut butter, agave and blackberries. She lit up and chowed it down and told me how good it was. "Are you still bummed that you couldn't have eggs and buttermilk pancakes?" "Not at all!" she said. Once again she's a dreamy veganette.

At school, Maya diligently tried to recruit other middle schoolers for her animal-rights group just like she said she would. Impressively she spoke to the principal and her counselor about parameters for handing out fliers and having kids sign petitions. In the end, she had two other girls on board: A vegan in her grade named Ally, and Tasha, Ally's friend. Last night was their first meeting on our living room floor. Maya laid out notes and tortilla chips. I told all the girls how wildly proud I was of them and disappeared to the kitchen.

And then Ally proceeded to squash all of Maya's ideas, talk over her, tossing out sneering sarcasm with sharpened points. I kept my mouth shut and Maya floundered a bit and did the best she could. She really was pretty impressive considering I wanted to grab Ally by the scruff and throw her out the front door. Ally said nastily as they sat down to start, "Uh, nice leather couch." Maya: "Oh we've had that for years before my mom was vegan. We just don't want to waste things." Ally: "Well, we don't have any leather furniture in our house, thank you." Maya, moving on, said, "Ok, hey I got an email back from PETA and---" Ally: "Was it from Ingrid Newkirk herself (the founder and head of PETA) ? Let me see it." Maya: "Well, I get some emails from her, but this girl's name--" Ally: "The email from Ingrid goes to everyone Maya. It's a form email?" Eyes rolled. Maya: "The one I'm talking about is from Ashley at PETA. She --" Ally: "From her directly?" Maya: "Yea. She said she'll send us stickers and comic books to pass out to --" Ally: "How creepy that she wants your address."

It went like this for the majority of the meeting. It was really hard to take. As Maya suggested to pitch in money to buy some kid's animal rights books to donate to the local libraries, Ally waved her off insinuating that was beneath a real animal-rights group. There were many other comments and Maya was finally saying things like, "Ally, just stop it" and "Enough with the sarcastic remarks." Ally's friend Tasha hardly said a word. Maya suggested they try to get kids to go vegetarian one day a week, like a campaign and Ally suggested that the group watch gory animal-cruelty videos where chinchillas' necks are broken with a man's boot and tested-on monkeys scream in pain. It was unnecessary overkill for them, in my opinion, but Maya and Mina and Tasha watched the videos in horror as Ally made comments. Before Ally and Tasha left I handed them fliers about the Farm Animals Protection Initiative and asked if they could pass them out to all the adults they knew. They were very polite to me. The door closed behind them and I hugged Maya and she cried. She said, "That didn't go how I thought it would." I said, "I'm sorry, baby." She was emotionally spent from the videos and fending off Ally. She picked up her head from my shoulder and said, "You mean judgemental like that?" I said, "Holy cow." She said, "Maybe I'll just do things by myself, if the group falls apart, I mean." I said, "I'm right here for you whatever happens. I'll pitch in half for the books for the library and I bet Mina wants to be involved." We looked over at Mina and she nodded enthusiastically.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Viva Resolutions

Nothing quite embarrasses me more than airing my list of resolutions. Sometimes I'm embarrassed writing them and I only do so because I'm a compulsive lister. Anyway, who isn't compelled by a fresh start? January 1 is like being baptized in hope. It's the ultimate for hope fiends.

I might give up Guitar Hero for the New Year. I haven't played since 2007. I still love it, and think about it, and visualize myself playing along with any music that's pumped in through the speakers of Old Navy and Starbucks . . . but I don't like sharing the guitar after just two songs. And I don't like having it pointed out what an "addict" I am every time I pick up the guitar. I'm embarrassed when I play now.

Hey, what am I? Embarrassed for 2008?

Here's the resolution at the top of my list. All other resolutions fit in a sub-resolution category under it: I Finish What I Start. Just saying it motivates me; makes me want to yell things like, "Yea, I ain't no quitter!" Not that I am, but it does fire me up to see important things through.

Speaking of which, I'm going to walk a marathon in March. It's taken me six weeks to even say that out loud, which is when I started training. So, yea, walking a marathon . . .does that seem silly? Actually, I'm going to walk it for charity. I'm walking it for this Farm Animal Protection Measure and I'm gonna hit up my friends and family to sponsor my walk, maybe $1 a mile, and then I'm gonna gladly hand over all that cash to the Californians for Humane Farms to make sure everyone knows about the measure and votes YES come November. We can't treat our fellow creatures so. If you tell me that you want to send me $26.20 (or $13.10 -- I'll take .50 a mile!) towards my efforts I'll click my blistered heels and not feel like such a schlub walking around in the wee, dark hours doing that exaggerated arm swing thing . . .Any help would surely be appreciated, just email me at mamirivera1@yahoo.com. Look, I made a fund-raising thermometer in the margins there. The training is going pretty well. I've had to say the I Finish What I Start thing to myself almost every week, sometimes twice. Walking in the cold, getting up early, enduring busted feet . . .Sunday I walked the first double-digit route: 10 miles. The course I mapped out had hills. It was harder than I thought it would be. Because I'm booking, y'all. I'm not just strolling along. I'm trying to make 13 and 14 minute miles, which right now seems undoable for an entire marathon. Sometimes I really do feel like a schlub for taking this on because I just decided I was going to do it by myself. Like a light went on and the idea that I must walk for charitable causes became the most important of all ideas! I was completely inspired by my friend LLoo who walked an impressive 60 miles over three days to fund raise for breast cancer research. Her mom is a survivor. It didn't seem silly that she did it; in fact it seemed heroic and selfless. I felt I could also give of myself in that way. I envision that this is the first of a handful of marathons that I will walk for charity this year, but first I have to finish this one -- because I started the training -- even if I'm a little nervous.