Posts Tagged ‘family’

A Cinderella Story

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Usually, you’re very aware of the life-changing moments. Baby birthed, troth pledged, first day of college, cross-country move, whatever etcetera.

But October 11th came and went this year and I barely noticed. Meanwhile, down south in Gardena CA, someone found a starving, half-bald dog on the streets and took her to the Carson Animal Shelter.
        

On October 16, a Wednesday, my one-line-a-day journal says that I took Lu to school in the morning and watched her climb a tree. I didn’t know that was the day West Coast Boxer Rescue found that emaciated, mange-ridden little dog in isolation at the animal shelter and brought her into their fold.

They named her Cinderella, hoping to lend a little fairytale magic to her hitherto desperate life.

The vet told the WCBR rescuer that the dog wasn’t a 3-month-old Boxer pup, as they first assumed. She was a Boxer/Boston Terrier mix, and she was closer t0 a year-and-a-half.

It was an easy mistake to make. At 18 pounds, covered in mange, infested with worms and suffering from pneumonia and anemia–little Cinder was a sad story indeed. But there was something in her eyes. A sweetness. A spark.

A volunteer in Redlands welcomed her into her home, taught her how to sit and pee outside. Fed her and loved her and nursed her back toward health. Two weeks later, WCBR noted that Cinder was up to 23 pounds, her hair was starting to grow back, and she was enjoying a long-delayed puppyhood, playing with toys and goofing around with her foster-dog-brother, Baxter.

        

On November 7, WCBR reported that Cinder had gained 5 more pounds and was clear of pneumonia. In photos, the difference was obvious…

      

Around this time, I started stalking the WCBR website for Boxer ladies. Bruce and I had decided that, three+ years after the death of our much-loved LeeLoo, we were ready to add a dog to our family again. LeeLoo was with us for 7 years, and was a huge part of our lives. She died just 2 months before our daughter Lucette was born. Although I missed her every day, bringing a new dog into a home with a new baby wasn’t a good idea. So we waited until we were ready, until Lu was ready, and then we started looking for the right dog.

My parents got me a dog, Mitzi the Beagle, when I was 5 years old. So many of my childhood memories include Mitzi–running together down the lane to the cottonwood tree, exploring the 40 acres of woods behind our house, showing off at the 4-H Fair in Amboy every July.

                         

And then there was LeeLoo. My friend, my confidant, my best Boxer lady. I missed having a dog in my life, and more than anything, I wanted Lu to have that experience, that friendship, that one-of-a-kind love. So, as I said, we were looking. We submitted our application, I made a list of available dogs. Cinder wasn’t on it.

The dogs I was drawn to were fawn-colored Boxers. LeeLoo-esque Boxers. And by the time our application was approved, they were all adopted. That’s when Julie from WCBR said, “What about Cinderella?”

I had scrolled past her picture on the “Available Dogs” list several times, but never even thought that she could be our dog.

But after talking to Julie and talking to Doni, Cinder’s foster mum, I began to reconsider. On December 3, Doni sent me these pictures of Cinder:

                              

I printed them out, showed them to Bruce & Lu and said, “I think this is our dog!” Lu looked at the pictures, then leaned closer and looked harder. “Ooooh, she’s soooooo cute! Can she be mine? Can I love her?” she said.

On December 14, we drove to San Jose to meet the WCBR transport from southern California. I took one look at Cinder in the back of the van and burst into tears. Yeah. She was our dog.

         

She’s been a part of our family for 17 days now. I’m already wondering what we ever did without her. She’s the sweetest thing ever. Patient with Lucette, eager to learn new things, snuggly and snorty and wiggly and funny.

We call her Vila. In folklore, the Vila are nymphs, fairy-like creatures who live in the wilderness or in the clouds. It seems a fitting name for such a magical wee lady. We’ve already had all sorts of adventures together, and we’re looking forward to a lifetime of more.

        

Last night, snuggled up on the couch, Lu leaned over and planted a kiss between Vila’s ears. “I wuv you in the morning, Weewah. I wuv you in the evening,” she whispered. “I wuv you so much!”

And I sighed a happy sigh. Our family is complete.

-Lo, who’s thinking life is doggone good.

Down on the farm

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

mood: sleepy | drinking: water

tractor1

There is something about going back to the farm that never gets old.

I haven’t lived there for at least 15 years now (and have no intention of moving back), but I love to visit. Of course, the actual farm I grew up on is now home to strangers, and the big grey house where all my childhood memories took root is now painted a trendy shade of purple.

My parents moved to a different farm, 8 or 9 miles away from our old home, when I was just a year or two out of college. But they’ve been there long enough, and I’ve visited often enough, that it’s endearingly familiar.

This time I went back with Bean in my belly, and my sister and nephew in tow. The little guy is now nearly 3, and old enough to get really excited about things like tractors and horses and big piles of sand.

Every day we were there, as soon as my nephew saw my dad he’d say, “Papa, I ride tractor? I ride big tractor? I ride bucket tractor?” And my dad, the ever-obliging grandpa, would prop Jude up on his lap and drive a never-ending series of tractors up and down the driveway.

Watching my parents as grandparents is delightful. Although, as my sister pointed out on this visit, my mom would never have given us all those sugary treats when we were kids. We had to suffer through “chocolate chip” cookies festooned with nasty carob droplets. But my nephew? He gets the real thing. Plus brownies. And M&Ms. And ice cream cake.

Now that grandchildren are making their appearance, my mom and dad are beginning to rearrange their lives in preparation for an eventual westward move to California. Even if Jude were the only grandchild, they’d make the move, but now they’ve got Bean due to show up soon, and later this fall we’ll meet my sister’s second child.

It will be amazing to have my parents just an hour or two away, instead of thousands of miles. Just to be able to make impromptu plans that don’t involve plane tickets and rental cars would feel miraculous.

But I’ll admit it, I’m going to miss showing up at the old stomping grounds. I’ll miss the red barns and the Midwest accents and drinking “pop” instead of soda.

I’ll miss the thrill of seeing, after years of absence, sights that used to be as familiar to me as my own face in the mirror.

I’ll miss the sense of history embedded on every backroad. Here is where I learned to drive, as did my father before me. Here’s where I had my first kiss, where I earned my first paycheck, where I ran barefoot chasing lightning bugs.

I love San Francisco, and I have 10 years of history here, now. And soon Bean will be making all of her childhood memories here, in our little house by the sea.

But part of me will always be a farm girl, able to scale fences and bridle horses and remain totally unfazed by the presence of poop. And I wouldn’t change that part of my history for anything.

-Lo, back to the city life.

We are family

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

mood: busy | drinking: water
momdad_muir

The Mama & Papa Witmer were just in California for a visit. (They’re pretty adorable, no?)

I always look forward to the parental visits. Having moved so far away from the place where I grew up, I don’t often find myself reminded of my childhood.

But seeing my parents always brings back a flood of memories, and we usually end up around the table swapping stories that start with, “Remember that time…”

I have no doubt that becoming a parent myself will alter my view of my own mom and dad. For the first time, I’ll be standing in their shoes, forced to make some of the same decisions they had to wrestle with when my sister and I were tiny.

Boy and I have already started talking about how to let Bean be whoever she (or he) will be. How to let her (let’s just go with her for now) grow up to be confident in who she is, even if that “who” isn’t quite what we expected.

momdadme_muirI’m sure when I was a little two-year-old tow head running around pulling puppy dog tails, my parents didn’t expect that one day I would change my hair color a ridiculous number of times, date a boy in a band, stop going to church, get tattoos and buy a motorcycle. (Not necessarily all at the same time, of course.)

I’m sure, when they tucked me in at night, they had very different ideas of who I would become.

But they have let me grow up with grace. They let me make decisions they didn’t understand. They let me disagree. They let me go.

It couldn’t have been very easy for them.

But the freedom they gave me has made me a better me. And I think it’s one of the many reasons I actually get excited when my parents are coming to town, while many of my friends live in dread of that day.

If we start now, and we practice really hard, I hope that Boy and I can give Bean the same freedom and let her fly.

-Lo, who somehow also grew up to be taller than both her parents.

In Dog Years

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

mood: content | drinking: tea

leeloo_12years

It’s true, what they say about dogs being man’s best friend.

My parents bought me a puppy when I was five years old. We lived out in the country and they wanted me to learn the responsibility of pet ownership. Mitzi the Beagle became a good friend of mine, accompanying me on most of my childhood adventures.

Mizti was joined later by Biskit, a blonde Cocker Spaniel, who had a natural mohawk and the sweetest temperament. They were better friends to me than I was to them. I went off to college and left their care to my mother, leaving them behind as if they were teddy bears I had outgrown.

I channel some of my guilt over my unfaithfulness into my love of LeeLoo, my current best friend of 7 years.

Although, let’s be honest, LeeLoo is easy to love for her sake alone.

Boy and I decided we wanted a dog 2 years after moving to San Francisco. (And after trying, unsucessfully, to cultivate warm fuzzy feelings for a tank of tropical fish.) We did our breed research and settled on Boxers–a medium-sized short-haired dog with a good temperament.

Then we scoured websites like Petfinder.com for a friendly face and a good backstory. We noticed LeeLoo’s giant underbite right away, and added her to our list of potential candidates.

Early one Saturday, we drove the 50 miles south to San Jose. LeeLoo was there, with Bay Area Boxer Rescue. She was 5 years old and had been abandoned by her family in LA: sent first to the pound, then to the LA Boxer Rescue. No one wanted her. So they sent her up north to try her luck, and that’s where we found her.

LeeLoo was the first dog we looked at, but after spending nearly 2 hours with her, we couldn’t leave her behind. When we left for home, she was in the backseat.

I quickly learned that being a dog owner in the country doesn’t mean squat when it comes to living with a dog in a metropolitan area. LeeLoo, Boy and I had a lot to learn about each other. We learned quickly with the help of a dog trainer named Dennis and logged a lot of hours of together just roaming the streets, sidewalks and park trails of San Francisco.

LeeLoo soon proved herself to be a loyal, loving and hilarious companion. After 7 years together, we know each other well.

She’s traveled with us on countless roadtrips all over California, up to Portland (where she met her famous Internet boyfriend, Henry D. Monster), down to Phoenix and all points in between. We’ve explored the beach, climbed the mountains; I’ve brushed snow from her paws and pulled out a few cactus needles, too.

She’s always waiting at the door when I get home and no matter how bad my day was, she manages to make me smile.

LeeLoo is part of our family, and today she turns 12 years old. That’s something like 84 in dog years, but as I told her this morning (while handing her a piece of birthday bacon), she doesn’t look a day over 65.

Boxers don’t often live into their teens, and many of them go before their time due to cancer. We’ve been lucky so far, and we’re hoping LeeLoo has many good years left to her. (If 7 naps a day on the couch can add years to your life, she’s going to be spry well into her second decade.)

Here’s to you, LeeLoo. We’re going to celebrate by going to the beach later, with a stop for some cheese on the way.

-Lo, who believes that dogs know a lot more than you might think.

Finding Gratitude

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

mood: quiet | drinking: koolaid-tasting vitamin water
us_house

In the spirit of the impending holiday, I’m going to make myself a little list of the things I am grateful for.

I’ve realized recently that I’ve spent the better part of this year griping about all the changes in my life. Time to step back and take a breath and notice the things that haven’t changed, or that have changed for the better.

So. Here they are, off the top of my head: Ten things that make me happy to get out of bed in the morning.

1. Boy. Through good, bad and ugly, he’s always there when I wake up. It’s an easy thing to take for granted in the hubbub of everyday living.

2. LeeLoo. She’s had a tough year, and is coming up on her 12th birthday, which in dog years is rather geriatric. But she’s hanging in there and is always ready with a lick and an eloquent Boxer sigh.

3. Our new home. We’ve only been sleeping under its roof for 10 nights, but it already feels like home. It’s cute, it’s cozy, it’s ours. And at night, you can see the stars so brightly and the ocean thunders so loudly. I feel incredibly lucky to be here.

4. My family. Mom & Dad were here just a few weeks ago, and my sister and I were talking about how weird we are, among most of our friends, that we actually enjoy spending time with our parents. I’m grateful for that kind of oddity.

5. My friends. Recently a small group of good people gathered for chicken pot pie at a cozy restaurant in the Castro to celebrate my birthday, and I looked around the table at all these people who love me–just love me, asking nothing of me in return–and I was overwhelmed with my good fortune to have all these lovely ones in my life.

6. Books. I’ve been reading so many good ones lately. Right now I’m nearly finished with Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood. God, I love books. I love getting lost in another world or being enraptured with the turn of someone else’s phrase. I would be lost without words in my life.

7. New acquaintances. You’re never too old to make new friends, and I’ve made two new forays in that direction recently, meeting Louise, the friend of a friend, and Julie, who took my photo for her art project I live here: SF. I love those unexpected moments when you connect with someone new and think, “Huh. This chick’s pretty cool.”

8. Etsy. Yes, I know, it’s geeky. But this website has opened me up to a whole new world of artists and crafters and seamstresses and amazingly creative people. My sister bought me a Lisa Falzon print off Etsy for my birthday this month and I’m totally in love with it. How else would I have discovered an illustrator in Ireland and have one of her pieces hanging on my dining room wall?

9. Creative outlets. My writing group, first and foremost. The girls in this group rock my face off every time we meet, and I’ve written some things this year that would not have been possible without their input. And then there are the cinepoems. Michelle and I just continue to work so well together and continue to churn out new ideas. We just finished “Homogeneous” and already we’ve got another shoot in the works for December.

10. San Francisco. As I said in my last post, I just really really love this city. It’s a beautiful, weird, wonderful place and I’m so happy that I get to call it my home.

As it turns out, there’s so much to be grateful for, even in the midst of a truly crazy year. And I am, I am grateful. And lucky. And blessed.

And so are you.

-Lo, choosing the bright side.

The Other Side

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

mood: visionary | drinking: new tea

nightbridge

October has, thus far, been a month of Happenings. I feel like we’re finally coming out the other side of months of upheaval and change. Certainty awaits.

Among the biggest of those happenings is the happy news that we close escrow on our new house next week. I can’t wait to get those keys in hand! Of course, after I get those keys  I’ll need to grab myself a paintbrush, too.

But it will be nice to have something to DO, finally, after all these months of waiting and wondering where we would end up. I’ve happily submitted my change-of-address forms to the P.O. too, because it makes it feel official. (As if signing a mountain-sized pile of loan documents doesn’t.)

Amidst all the good news this month there has been sad news, too. Last week an old friend of mine died. Her name was Heidi, and I have known her since we were 4 years old. We grew up together, carpooled to school together, rode bikes, walked our dogs, attempted to learn Spanish.

In high school, Heidi was in the cool crowd while I hung out in the front row with the other nerds. But she never made me feel slighted, and when we ended up at the same junior college for a year or so after graduation, we went nearly everywhere together.

Heidi married shortly after I graduated from college, and asked me to read a poem at her wedding. After I moved away I only saw her rarely, but kept up with her from a distance as she got her nursing degree and had two children. She was diagnosed with breast cancer a couple of years ago and survived.

But cancer reappeared earlier this year and claimed her life last Sunday. Her funeral was yesterday and I wasn’t able to attend, but my thoughts have been with her and her family these last few days.

I have only lost two friends my age so far in my life. Which is lucky, I know. But it’s still so strange to think of people around me suddenly not being there anymore. Mortality is a mystery to the living.

…I’m at a loss for a segue. I seem to just be rambling along here anyway.

Last weekend Boy and I drove across the Golden Gate Bridge to the Marin headlands. We had no particular destination in mind, we just wanted to go somewhere, to be moving instead of sitting at home. We ended up high above the fog, in the dark, watching the clouds close in on the bridge down below.

And I thought, for the hundred millionth time, how happy I am to live here. And how lucky.

My parents fly in today from Illinois, so there’s a family reunion in my very near future. They’re bringing my Gramma Ruth with them, her first trip to California and her first time on a plane, I think since 1968.

Boy and I are in charge of bringing pies to the family festivities, so I’d best get off my duff and up in search of flaky crusts.

I’ll be back next week with a set of brand new keys.

-Lo, getting up and at ’em.

Little Sister

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Mood: Dogged | Drinking: Drinks

mother_of_god

My sister’s birthday is this weekend, so I thought it was an excellent time to post a poem I wrote about her.

The poem was featured in a small anthology published last fall called Remembering Faces. The theme of the book is poetry by women about women who have made an impact in their lives.

My woman of choice was my sister…

Little Sister

I broke mom and dad
in with a blazing trail
of beers, boyfriends
and broken curfews
so you didn’t have to wait
’til 18 to get your first kiss.

On your first day of school
you didn’t go as yourself
but as my little sister,
second Witmer.
Teachers thought they knew
what to expect.

In the shadow cast
by my relentless claim
to some sort of significance
you quietly carved out the shape
of your own existence.

All our lives
you’ve come in second
in everything but this:

I push open the door
to the white room
in which you labor,
a stranger to me,
flushed and new.

Your smile speaks a language
I have not yet learned,
heavy with the rhythm
of wet mystery
and expectation.

When they bring him to you
all wailing and warm
you beam like the mother of God,
stretch out your arms
for the first time
and without any effort
surpass me.

*****

— Happy Birthday, Beanhead! —

-Lo, big sister.

Passage

Monday, November 10th, 2008

Mood: Un-birthday | Drinking: Warm Dr. Pepper

casket

Today, my birthday, was also my grandmother’s funeral.

I was asked to do a reading during the service, and I read two poems, one that I wrote last Tuesday, the day after she died, and one that my writin’ group friends, Melissa & Kathy recommended. I’d like to share them both with you…

The End

I hear the sirens
from the end of the driveway
winding up Meheula
riding to the rescue.

It has already been three minutes,
three minutes and a lifetime.

On the floor inside the house
daughter cradles unseeing mother
rocking,
waiting.

The end comes
sooner than you want it to
and no matter how much you prepare
you’re never really ready.

Today in the dappled green park
birds flocked
to wheelchair and stroller
as side by side,
grandson and great
grandmother
flung crumbs to waiting beaks
and flirted.

Her last day was lived in the sun
lit up with laughter,
encircled by love
high above aquamarine waves.

It has been four minutes,
four minutes and 85 years.
The sirens spin closer now.
There’s no more time
to say goodbye.

***

Remember
by Christina Rosetti

Remember me when I am gone away,
gone far away into the silent land;
when you can no more hold me by the hand,
nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
you tell me of our future that you plann’d:
Only remember me; you understand
it will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
and afterwards remember, do not grieve:
for if the darkness and corruption leave
a vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
better by far you should forget and smile
than that you should remember and be sad.

-Lo, in remembrance of Mary Ellen.

The Unbearable Lightness

Friday, November 7th, 2008

Mood: Numb | Drinking: I should be!

verybadday

When I was little, I loved the book about the boy Alexander and his “terrible, horrible, very bad, no good day.” Something about the drama of that statement seemed hilarious to me at the time.

But I have had a terrible, horrible, very bad, no good week, and am not yet finding it hilarious.

The lead-in to this supersonically shitastic week began last month when my parents were visiting and we got a call from my aunt, who lives in Hawaii. She has had my grandmother living with her for the past year and a half. Three weeks ago, Nana was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

Upon hearing the news, my mother decided to fly over to Hawaii so she could see her mom and see what she could do to help. My sister decided to go with her so she could introduce her 10-month-old son to his great-grandma before it was too late. I decided to go with them to be of whatever support I could.

So on November 1st my mom, my sister, my nephew and I boarded a plane to Oahu. I’ve never been to Hawaii before. It’s a very strange experience, going to a vacation spot on such an anxious family errand. Everyone else was wearing bikinis and flaunting their newly acquired tans while the three Witmer women jostled about on various harried excursions, sweaty, disheveled, toting a tired baby and wearing decidedly un-tropical shoes.

Thus began what has quite possibly been the worst week of my life. The photo above was taken on Sunday, November 2, at sunset on the North Shore near Haliewa. It was possibly the last truly peaceful moment I will have in quite awhile.

On Monday, while I was at my aunt’s house, Nana suddenly complained of chest pain, then head pain, then her knees buckled as my aunt was helping her walk. I lunged across the room to help catch her as she fell, and my aunt and I lowered her to the floor where she lay, gasping for breath like a fish on the shore, eyes rolled up in her head.

My aunt and I were the only ones there at the time, so I called 911, then called my mother as I stood at the end of the driveway waiting for the ambulance. My mom and the paramedics arrived at the same time, and she and I drove behind the ambulance to the hospital in Wahiawa.

Nana was pronounced dead 20 minutes after our arrival.

That was Monday. On Tuesday, amid the shock of grief and initial frantic funeral planning, I anxiously watched election returns come in. I had cast my vote early at city hall once I knew I would be out of state on election day, but I missed the thrill of that early morning democratic ritual, wearing the sticker in to work and walking about the rest of the day feeling oh, so civic-minded.

I didn’t have access to a TV, so I was scanning several websites at once and instant messaging with Boy, trying to keep up as states were called blue or red.

Of course, I am overjoyed that Barack Obama is now our President-Elect, and I am filled with hope at what that means for the future of our battered country. But the thrill of victory was tempered by the passage, here in California, of Proposition 8, which takes away the right of gay couples to get married. Such a crushing blow for equal rights everywhere.

That was Tuesday. On Wednesday, my sister and I woke early and packed our bags because our return flight for the mainland was scheduled for that afternoon. First, though, we stopped by my aunt’s house to help deal with decisions that needed to be made: When were my aunt and my mom flying back to Illinois? When should we have the wake and the funeral? What relatives still needed to be called? Who were the pallbearers going to be? What photos of Nana did we have for a memorial? What clothes should she wear in the casket?

So many decisions, so many emotions, and no time. As my sister and I checked our bags at the airport in Honolulu, I realized I had left my credit card at the Mililani Kinko’s where we had been scanning in old family photos so Boy could use them to make a memorial DVD for the funeral service. I’ve never forgotten my credit card anywhere. What a time to do it!

Seven hours later, give or take, my sister, my nephew and I landed at SFO a bit bedraggled and worse for wear. I crashed into bed at about 2 a.m.

That was Wednesday. On Thursday, I woke up early and headed into work, my head full of all I needed to do to prepare for yet another trip. I needed to tell my boss that I would be taking bereavement time and traveling to the funeral. I needed to catch up on work I missed because of the trip to Hawaii.

Instead, I walked into work only to find out that I, my best friend, and about 1/3 of my company were being laid off. I was completely blindsided. I knew, of course, that the economy was awful, but I naively assumed that my job would be safe. I was wrong.

That was Thursday. Today I woke up and wondered what else was going to go wrong. At 11:30 a.m. I found out: a friend from high school called with news about her family and a crisis they are suddenly going through. Somehow I wasn’t surprised to finish off the week with a bang.

So now I am packing my suitcase so Boy and I can get on a plane in the morning and head back to Illinois. There will be a wake on Sunday, and a funeral on Monday – which also just happens to be my birthday.

It all seems so surreal. I’ve never called 911 for a medical emergency before. I’ve never before waited at the end of a driveway, knowing the sirens I could hear from a distance were coming for me. I’ve never before stood in an emergency room and watched a doctor come out to tell me that he’s sorry, but they did everything they could. I’m still having trouble believing it’s all real.

One of the executives at my company on Thursday, after I had gotten the news about my now non-existent job, asked me what I was feeling. I just started laughing and looked at her and said, “I have no idea what I’m feeling!”

That’s still true, to an extent. It’s been a helluva week, and it’s too much to wrap my head around all at once. I think that underneath it all, I’m ok, and I believe that I will be ok. But from here on out, I’m just taking one day at a time until I come out the other side.

I’m grateful for my family. I’m grateful for one unexpected good surprise, that I get to spend my birthday with them. I’m grateful for my supportive and compassionate friends. I’m grateful for the way LeeLoo wiggles her butt so hard whenever I walk through the door. I’m especially grateful for Boy and for the way that he loves me.

So now I’m going to go be with my family, and remember Nana, and eat some Chicago pizza. The rest of it I’ll deal with when I come back.

Anyway, that was my week. How was yours?

-Lo, breathing in, breathing out.

I Ran So Far Away

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

Mood: Rested | Drinking: Water

tiffany

Last year at this time if someone had told me I would run not just one but two half marathons, I would have fallen over laughing.

But change is possible. With a smidgen of faith, a lot of hard work, three pairs of running shoes, and a little help from my friends.

Last year at this time, I had just started running. I could barely run for a block or two before feeling like my lungs might be full of fire ants.

And now? Now I’ve got 13.1 competitive miles under my belt — twice. Not to mention a couple of 5ks thrown in for good measure.

It’s an amazing thing.

So is running with 20,000 other women (give or take a few brave men). The Nike Women’s Marathon and Half Marathon in San Francisco is billed as a women’s race, and marketed with a whole lot of pink banners.

And I have to tell you, it’s very different, running a race course with a bunch of women. A woman bumps into you and actually says she’s sorry. Women on all sides cheer (and sometimes drag) each other on, mile after sweaty mile. Compliments about hairstyles, t-shirts, and choice of footwear are easily passed about between strangers.

I never really considered a half marathon to be a nurturing environment, but in this case, it was.

I ran my first half marathon in Phoenix back in January, after training for 3 months with Team in Training. This time, I trained myself (with occasional accompaniment from my fabulous running buddy, Allegra).

On race day, Boy dropped me off a block from Union Square in the wee dark hours of the morning and from that point until I crossed the finish line, I was on my own. I trained on my own, ran on my own, and finished on my own, and goddamn, am I proud of myself! 😉

I finished the Phoenix Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon course in 2 hours, 55 minutes, on a hot day over flat roads with only 3 months of training to back me up.

My goal for this Nike race was to beat my own time, and I did: 2 hours, 52 minutes, on a foggy morning over San Francisco-sized hills with a year of running experience behind me.

The best part, besides crossing the finish line, was all my friends who got up early to come and cheer along the way, including my juicy nephew, Jude, and my parents, who just happened to be in town from Illinois. Thanks to all of you!

The other best part? Turquoise Tiffany’s boxes held aloft on silver platters by handsome tuxedo-ed men. And one of them (the box, not the tux man) is all mine.

I’ve been resting up all week, after a nice post-race soak in the ocean, and I think I’m ready to run again.

Time to go pound some pavement…

-Lo, who doesn’t photograph well when sweaty.