Sunday, June 27, 2010

Kyrianne Jane Tuttle Willson

It's been the most surreal day. Everything I do is draped in this feeling of being an aunt and this little person really being in the world. I can't get over the idea that she is somehow totally Shea and Drew and at the same time, now finally something totally separate from them. How did they do that? I am okay with the genes and the organs and the ten fingers and toes- but how did they give her that little light: the will, the soul?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Born to be Barefoot

After reading Born to Run during the majority of my flight from Tucson in April, I did the smallest amount of research possible and then ordered barefoot running shoes online. They’re called vibram five-fingers and they look a bit like alien shoes-- I’ve thought about this quite a lot-- mostly because we’re not used to the fact that we actually have five toes. Seeing them all splayed out there encased in black nylon (or bright red, mossy green, even sunshine yellow) looks strange and sort of flips my stomach like I’m trying to politely avert my gaze from some abnormality. After all, since the advent of cushy heels and gel pods, what exactly are toes for? The annoyance of clipping nails, the weirdness of what gets jammed between them, the frustration and agony of smashing them against doorframes and table legs.

In fact, its been a long time since I’ve had something good to say about my feet in general. When I was a kid, I waited for shoeless summers with a similar intensity as Christmas morning. The first sign came when even grown ups abandoned puffy winter coats, then okay, yes, we can wear short sleeved shirts and finally! the shorts get unpacked from dusty boxes, and last, but certainly not least came the shoes: off with the shoes, bare feet all around! One summer I became so used to treading around without shoes that I walked six blocks to a babysitting job without even noticing there was nothing on my feet.
And yet, somewhere along the way, everything changed. There are many things that may have let to the hating of my feet, but if I had to pin in down to one experience, my guess would be the horror of skating in 3rd grade gym class.

Six weeks out of the year they heaved in great wheeled cubbies full of shoes to fit the wide spectrum of sizes necessary to house the wide spectrum of grade school feet. Think about it for a second: do you remember the third grader whose hands and feet were the size of Barbie shoes? The one who towered above you with dolphin heraches thundering down the stairs? The blessed middle-sized child no one remembers at all. And then they made a spectical of the whole thing by calling you up by size. Size 5 and under, you can retrieve your skates. Okay, now size 6 and 7. Anyone else? Oh yeah, size 7 and up. And three of us would stand in the sea of petite hands struggling to pull on and lace skates over small and normal feet. All seemed to halt as they turned to look up. There’s a size above 7? Really? How? And there we were, apologetically running to the last cubby by the wall, pulling out our clownish two-tone red and green skates (the only colors in that size) and ducking our faces (now the same color as our skates) down to begin the slow attempt at fastening these massive (do they have to be on wheels?!) bodies of canvas and laces to our snow-sled size feet.

Then on a camping trip with my dad I fell over a rogue tent stake and gashed the big toe on my left foot. The toe has healed, but the nail never did.

Then when I started running, they started to smell; am I to blame?!

Then in college when I started running more than sitting by the pool, I got a horrible ring around my ankle: the dreaded sock tan. I stopped wearing sandals. I hated the sight of my feet. And thus we have the present condition. I am flat footed. My feet are white as dolphins and twice the size. My toenail is cracked and discolored. Why, why, why and how could I ever learn to love my feet?

But then I read about barefoot running, and it took me about two paragraphs to be persuaded. Feet are surprising complex (housing as much as 25% of the bones in your body)not to mention architectually brilliant with toes and arches that all function in special ways giving us the ability to walk, run, balance, grip and jump. And yet we, particularly as ahtletes, have spent the last 30 years encasing them in increasingly complex imitations of an already complex, functional form. As Chris McDougall points out, no architect in her right mind would build supports beneath an archway if trying to maintain the integrity of the design. Even a child could deduce building with blocks (though probably without being able to articulate why) that the strengh of the arch comes when force is applied from above. So this is what I take from Chris’ conclusion: I have spent the last fifteen years (with increasing intensity as I have begun running more seriously) actually weakening my already almost non-existant arches. Ack!

Now that I have my vibrams, however, something of my childhood is coming back. I remember the freedom and sweetness of relying on my toes, of loving what my feet can do, how spry I feel, how able to balance and hop and go at a moment’s notice. Last weekend we went camping, and tide-pooling I found my greatest pleasure came not from the star-fish we uncovered the size of a house cat, but instead from the way my toes held and engaged the ground beneath me. Climbing, hopping, balancing, loving them all the (substantial) way from heal to grippy toe.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


I know, I know... It's June. And its been almost- no, over- a month since I've last taken a minute to process my thoughts in this space. But as the weather outside is still so very frightful, I feel somehow justified in my wait. Yes, I have a lot on my mind, but a lot of it seems to be about large moments, and waiting. Waiting, but everything still manages to plunge forward at such an incredible pace that I can hardly catch my breath.

So we're waiting for sunny days, waiting for the baby (34 weeks along now I think?!), waiting for the endless list of wedding chores to be accomplished (and yeah, at times actively persuing this reality), waiting for vacation, waiting for packages to come in the mail (!!), and I've been waiting for something else too: waiting for it all to come together, to mesh in my mind: what's been happening, my witness to it all. Waiting for something that's unfolding so fast I can no longer hope for cohesion, but brace myself instead for collision. And hope that its manageable, resportable and just plain fine.

Shea said when she first told everyone she was pregnant, she was overwhelmed at her response to their questions. They couldn't stop asking about the sex and what they would name the baby; they wanted the props, the fill-in-the-blank baby. But all Shea thought was "Holy shit, this is a w-HAT now growing in my stomach?" I mean, its a baby in there. A real, live human (wo)man. A short little alien creature that she's somehow responsible for creating and maintaining and how can you even begin to puzzle this out let alone start thinking oh- the sex, oh- the name: yes, it'll be a boy and we'll call it Henry. Nobody thinks to bring up the real issue, you know, not that fact that its a boy or a girl but that its HUMAN.

This is almost exactly how I feel about getting married. Its not just that we're getting married in less than two months or that it'll be in IL and that I'm wearing white and he's wearing beige and we're eating a cake made by his grandmother. It's not that we'll be putting on rings, but what it is that they signify, which is unanimously unclear. Does it have to do with taking out the garbage, with moving across the country, with working at the grocery store day after day? Does it mean I have to go to church, have to agree, have to have an opinion?

Another reason I am slow to blog is the increasing attachment Pat has to his computer which greatly hinders my own access. And so, I bought Patrick an early wedding gift. And though it is actually mine and I sit typing these words upon it, it was Pat's sanity and happiness I had in mind when I bought this sweet little netbook and waited for it to arrive in the mail. It is the size of a large paperback novel, and just about as heavy. So hurrah! Independent blogging!