Parachute journalism and rural America’s revenge — Beth Macy

While everyone was so sure Hillary Clinton was going to win, I looked around my rural community and saw a different story. This story. I’m not saying I wasn’t shocked–I was. But I had an inkling things weren’t going to go quite the way everyone said they would. And this is why. (Shared post–I did not write this and the picture isn’t mine, either.)

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Below is an essay I first published for The Ochberg Society, a now-defunct grassroots group of journalists who cover trauma, upon the publication of FACTORY MAN in 2014. I’ve been thinking a lot about the people featured in my essay and in that book recently. Last week on Election Day, I traveled back to Bassett, Va., to […]

via Parachute journalism and rural America’s revenge — Beth Macy

Slow rebeginnings

Slow rebeginnings

It’s been a weird year for my garden. The whole attempt to grow seedlings, in or out of the greenhouse, has been a disaster. Of probably 200+ tomato plants i started from seed, I have four I could actually plant.

Everything is growing slowly. Seeds I planted right in the soil are taking forever to germinate, though the soil is moist, the ground is warm and there’s been plenty of sun. I have Jack B Little pumpkins seeds two weeks in the ground and not a single bit of green is peeking up.

Tulip bulbs rotted in the ground this spring. The hosta, columbine and astilbe starts I planted never showed. (It didn’t help that I got chickens, who tore up the ground in that area–no, they don’t have access to the rest of the garden–but the starts were doing nothing for weeks, so I can’t blame the chickens.)

The cilantro seeds never took. Ever.

But the salvia came back on its own and is lush. The snapdragons I put in are growing their leaves, even though there are no flowers yet. The hydrangea I bought in three different colors seems to be thriving.

I just don’t understand.

And why are the lush, double-blossom begonias so hard to find? Everyone’s got the singles, but I don’t want them.

I guess the answer to the rest of it is….time for soil testing!

It’s supposed to be good when you stop!

It's supposed to be good when you stop!

On the last 8 minutes of my run, I suddenly felt like someone grabbed my uterus in both hands and squeezed. Now let’s just say the timing of such an event was off by at least a week. I decided I would breathe and run through the pain, because exercise is actually quite good for cramps, and if my system had decided to go off schedule, this was probably the best thing I could be doing for myself.

The pain just got worse. And worse. And worse, until it felt like someone was not just squeezing, but twisting. I had about a minute and twelve seconds left to go, so I just kept on. It’s like labor. You ride it out. It was going to stop when I stop running, so hang in there and finish the run.

My timer went off and, because stopping dead and standing is not a good idea after a run, I slowed to a walk.

That invisible person inside me decided my uterus was taffy. Squeezing and twisting became pulling, and now wrapping it all around the base of my spine. And yanking.

The pain did not stop after I walked all the way home in near tears, gulping and gasping against it. Finally, after 30 minutes of slow subsiding, the pain quit.

I decided to see if anyone else out there was having the same problem, and if they were, what they were doing about it. What was the cause? More importantly, what was the treatment?

Search “menstrual-like cramps while running” and you’ll find what I found: a lot of women posting the same symptoms, a lot of other women “me too-ing,” and a lot of other people misunderstanding and not offering real help.

It’s not gastrointestinal. I know where my frigging uterus is and I know what it feels like when it hurts. So stop telling me it’s gas or IBS. It’s not menstrual cramps. Though at my age, my cycle is harder to predict, I am pretty damn sure that it’s not coming back after one week.

Why in the world would my uterus be cramping off schedule because I’m running? And why are there lots of women with the same symptoms, but no answers?

Only one of the women posting the question mentioned she had run without eating. That she had gotten up and run before breakfast. Someone else said do not do that–your glycogen stores are depleted and your body will go after less efficient sources of fuel such as fat stores (GOOD!) or muscle groups (BAD!).

As it happens, I had also run before breakfast. I came home and had a V8–what I always drink right after a run–and later, some breakfast.

I’m still kind of sore.

I am good with my uterus, a muscle inside my body–also getting toned, but I’m not good with that kind of pain during and after running. I’ll try eating something before my run Sunday morning and see if that makes a difference. If not, I may need to use my brand spanking new health insurance and go see if everything is in working order.

Any more me-tooers out there? Or anyone with a genuine answer?

On the road again

My athletic club membership ran out and I couldn’t find the day passes I thought I had. I must have given them away. We might be buying a condo at the end of the week, but I didn’t want to wait until then to run.

So I took my butt out into the sunshine and onto the road.

Lesson learned: Treadmill progress does not equal road progress.

I kept to my four minute intervals, so at least I could do that, but it was NOT comfortable and I’m sure my speed overall and my distance were much lower than my treadmill time.

In other words, today’s run was a great success.

What, slower times, discomfort and backsliding are not success?  They will be tomorrow, when my body, which is cursing me right now for making it do more than it was prepared to do, adjusts all the levels, repairs all the muscles and ligaments, and stokes the internal fires, just like it always does when I shake things up.  

Getting out on the road today was not only the right thing to do.  It was the BEST thing to do.  I won’t be running Bloomsday on a treadmill.  I’ll be running it on asphalt, up and down hills.  In real weather.  Actually carrying my weight through air resistance and having to fight gravity.  

Running inside on a treadmill was the right thing to do when it was snowing and Denton Road was slick with ice.  Things have changed now.  It’s time to get out there and move.  

Who’s with me? 

Time Away

I’ve been gone a long time. About the time I stopped posting, my father found out his cancer had returned and he had only a little while left to be with us. It seemed more important to spend the time with him, rather than to post about food, fashion and crafts here.

He died January 7th. Only now am I beginning to feel my time is my own again.

I fell off the Primal wagon. I may try to jump back on, but right now, I am just keeping track of what I eat, EXACTLY how much (as in, I’m weighing it), and how I feel after. I’m running every other day, close to 5 miles each time.

My world is pretty small at the moment. I’m concentrating on good habits and discipline. I’m still not in a place where my emotions do much soaring, but they’re also not doing a lot of plunging.

For now, that’s good. I have plans. I have big plans.

But for a little while longer, I need to live minute by minute.

Wednesday Knitting

Wednesday Knitting

Latest knitting project: a drop-shoulder pullover with fullness in the sleeves and lace banding on all pieces.

It’s a pattern from 1994, so the styling might be a bit out of date–I’m thinking of the sleeves specifically–but it looks like it’s going to be comfortable and cool this spring and summer. I’m thinking of wearing it with a tank, a wide belt in a neutral and jeans. Early in the season, booties will work, and then later, shorts and sandals.

This is the first sweater I’ve ever worked with straight needles in the neckline. Most ribbed collars I’ve done with circular needles. I know how to seam the neck invisibly, so I’m not intimidated.

Unrelated note: still doing Primal, still holding steady.

Coming back from pain

On Sunday, I injured my lower back doing squats.  Monday, I seemed fine by afternoon, but I woke up Tuesday morning in real pain, and worse, instability.  I couldn’t control my own movement with the easy, fine touch that we all take for granted.  Even being careful, I would hit a place where the pain would shock me and make me recoil into another place of pain.  Then I would recoil from that, and the overcorrections would cause their own pain. 

I spent much of Tuesday in bed with a heating pad.  

Yesterday, I woke with less pain, but the same instability.  I felt my back and belly were weak, that the girder of muscles that kept me upright had taken a vacation and gone off to someplace it didn’t hurt.  I used the heating pad now in a seating position and set to work finding exercises to bring them back.  

I found this.

The middle exercise looked impossible to me yesterday.  I couldn’t do even the mild yoga from Prevention that I was supposed to do for the day.  I managed Warrior II on the right (injured) side, and then was supposed to place my right elbow on my right knee and stretch my left arm over.  I almost went to the floor.  

The prospect of sitting flat on the floor with straight legs and my hands behind my head, by itself, even without the lean forward, was enough to make me want to cry.  

But late last night, I tried it.  

It was amazing.  The backs of my legs screamed, as the therapist said they would, but the pain in my back was gone, everything was open, and I felt in control of my body for the first time in a few days.  

I even felt good enough to do about 15 slow crunches.  

That’s the priority when this is over.  I’m going to get my core stabilized and strong, so this doesn’t happen again.  I don’t care if I ever wear a swimsuit again–who wants to see my tiger stripes, anyway–I just don’t want to feel out of control like this again.  Enjoy Hawaii, belly, because when you get back, we are going to WORK!

Can you imagine how much worse this would have been if I had been 15 pounds heavier, with heart palpitations and wheezing?  

I hit the road for 25 minutes today.  It hurt and I’m sitting with a heating pad on my lower back right now, but it needed done.