Saturday, February 23, 2008

blue skies, brown skin.

This morning, when I woke up, I could see a piece of the sky through the window where my curtain is pulled back a bit. Clear and blue. Yesterday had been a red-stick-tease. It began cloudy and gray; around mid afternoon, it turned sunny and warm; by early evening it returned to gray and the temperature dropped to a chill; finally, by evening, the clouds moved just enough to let the sunset come through, but the chill remained.

It was 43 degrees when we woke, and now it’s in the high 60s, for sure. I am sitting on the soccer field of my high school Alma matter. I only live about seven blocks away, and I come here both to practice running for the triath and to let my dogs loose. Earlier, I let the dogs run the field, but now they are leashed up and sitting beside me. I’m typing and we’re all three basking.

People are walking the track that surrounds this soccer field. Two boys are playing football. Cars are in the parking lot, so I assume there is a play practice going on inside the school, or maybe students are taking the SAT – is it time for that, or was that last semester? There are also two teenagers who’ve created a makeshift ramp in the parking lot, and they are skateboarding.

Today is a “recovery” day – meaning no exercise. Yay. Yesterday I ran for 45 minutes. I had to break it up like this: 20 minutes of solid jogging, 5 minute walk, 15 minutes of jogging, and another 5 minute walk. The joy came in this – I’ve never run 20 minutes straight before. I managed to do 7 laps around the track in that time, which is 1 ¾ miles. My triath is a super sprint – i.e. it is abbreviated distances for all events. So I’ll only have to run 2 miles.

I’m feeling really good right now about the biking and the running. So I’ve just got to get better at the swimming. Once I’m there, I’ll be working on combining/transitioning between the three. On Thursday, in my class, we swam a total of 1000 yards (my triath is only 350 yards - 14 lengths of the pool). My husband c. asked me, “Did you feel like hopping on a bike after you were done swimming?” Ha. No. No I did not.

Today, c. and I went to the farmers’ market. We managed to purchase some of the best tasting spinach I’ve ever eaten (I used it in a sandwich today), tomatoes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, chorizo sausage, carrots and fresh crumped oatmeal, along with 2 cups of coffee, all for under $30. We’ve got our veggies and my breakfast for the entire week – and we’ll use the chorizo to make a bastardized version of grits and griads (a Cajun dish of grits and beef stew – think polenta with savory stew if you need it to sound fancy). We’ll eat that with spinach.

Then I went to the grocery store and spent another $30 bucks on 2 ½ gallons of milk from two local creameries (one an artisan creamery, one not – I like skim, c. likes 2%), locally caught drum fish, native oranges and grapefruits, and some really good bread that is made at a bakery in Lafayette, LA and delivered down to BR three times a week. Okay, I bought a frozen pizza and some yogurt too. (And a powerball ticket – send good vibes!!!)

Along with some asparagus, pork and orzo we already have, we’ve got groceries for a week for the two of us for only $60 – and most of it was locally grown and processed. I am pretty proud of this accomplishment.

So, speaking of exercising and farmers’ markets – I’ve been reading a blog called STUFF WHITE PEOPLE LIKE. If you read the comments, you’ll see that it clearly offends some people. But I think they need to lighten up and admit their fulfillment of the stereotypes. It lists things including: farmers markets (check), microbrews (check), bicycles (check – the only reason I didn’t suggest we ride bikes to the market today is because it’s a recovery day, and I’m not supposed to exercise except maybe yoga/stretching), yoga (check), sushi (check), dogs (check), wine (check), indie music (check). The site also lists gentrification as one thing white people like – and I know about gentrification inside and out from my previous life as a planner – the social, economic, cultural aspects; none the less, I fit the stereotype of purchasing in an “authentic” neighborhood, etc. It also lists the top ten hip-hop songs white people like – I think c. and I have all of them, and it lists Common as a musician white people like (again, check). I don’t know if alt country and classic country are on the list, but they should be.

As I read and laugh at this blog, I find myself wondering: How did this brown girl get so white? Then, my brain not skipping a beat, wonders: How did this brown girl get so southern? And yes, I am so southern…I smile at strangers. Say hello to them on the sidewalk. Break into spontaneous conversation with strangers in the grocery line.

This past Christmas, I found myself conversing with friends about the “southern-ness” of one of my good friends, a., who lives in LA. We were amused by how embarrassed a. was getting because we were, in a public bar, talking about various forms of birth control. We were commenting on the exact face a. makes when she wants you to stop talking about whatever it is you’re discussing. It is a very polite, restrained smile, and her eyes are communicating that the topic is totally inappropriate. Very southern. So we were discussing this, and laughing about it, and commenting that she is, in some ways, so like her mother. (I’m sure she is cringing, but also hopefully grinning as she reads this.)

This leaves me wondering more – where’d I get my southern-ness? (Not my mom!) On the night of my birthday, a friend – also an a. - was, jokingly, wearing a condom tucked into her bra so you could see it peeking out from beneath her shirt. It had been irking me all night. Finally, I plucked it away, and said, “Uh-uh. You have GOT to get rid of that.” It was my very own brand of southern reserve, a degree of etiquette which compelled me. She looked stunned and amused and said, “You know I’m joking.” And I just said, “Trust me. I’m doing you a favor.” I felt very much like a sorority girl telling her sorority-sister she isn’t allowed to smoke in a bar. Or like a debutante preaching about the no-white-after-Labor-Day rule (not one I go by.)

Now I’m on the hunt for blogs about STUFF BLACK PEOPLE LIKE and STUFF INDO-AMERICANS LIKE. I suspect I could check off quite a few items on those lists too. Here is the link to STUFF WHITE PEOPLE LIKE. Enjoy it! It’s funny for god’s sake. Laugh at yourselves. Or at white people. Or both. I do it all the time.

SONGS: Blue Skies, Willie Nelson and Brown Skin Lady, Black Star

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