Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Safety Seat


A few days ago I went, for the first time, to the new incarnation of The Lyric, a funky, artsy, local movie theatre. The new building features an industrial-looking lobby where you can buy food and drink along with your movie tickets. You can eat at stand-up tables or take your goodies to enjoy in one of three small theatres. Once inside, you can relax on a comfy couch or choose a more traditional seat to watch the movie.

As it happened, the small theatre that was showing The Darkest Hour, was quickly filling up at noon (!) on a day between Christmas and New Years. A theatre employee encouraged people entering the theatre to forget about “the safety seat” and fill in each row.

I’d never heard the seat that so many of us often leave vacant when it is possible to do so when we enter a movie, concert, or church service referred to as a “safety seat.” It’s the one we subconsciously perhaps, protect ourselves by, leaving the seat adjacent to an occupied one vacant. We choose instead to sit down leaving a vacancy next to us.

Safety seat, I thought, interesting term.  I gave it no more thought. But it must have been in the back of my mind when I went to a Martin Luther King-inspired church service this morning.  Ordinarily I  would have chosen to create a “safety seat” next to me, but today I plunked down in the first empty seat I came across.

The service included several powerful readings by people of color, giving the basically all-white congregation an uncomfortable glimpse into the reality of another world. 

Perhaps it wasn’t logical, but it dawned on me that eliminating “safety seats” and sitting down--or standing up--close to people in one way or another different from us, might be a small gesture toward achieving racial justice. 



Monday, January 8, 2018

Reliving the running life


It started off as nothing more than a vague idea. Between the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2016, I contributed to a weekly column called The Running Life for the Fort Collins Coloradoan, my local newspaper. Four of us runner-writers each wrote a piece once a month for the Explore section of the paper. It was great fun and all of us enjoyed hearing from our readers. The paper liked it because we did it as volunteers and we obviously had readership.

Then the newspaper powers-at-be announced a change of format. For a reason I don’t understand, they got rid of the Explore section, its talented editor, and the four of us. It wasn’t really as if I’d been fired, I reasoned. After all, I didn’t get paid in the first place. About that time I began to blog more frequently, quite often on the topic of running.

By the end of 2017, I’d finished writing a novel, White Shadow, mostly probably the only work of fiction I will ever attempt. I was ready for a new challenge. Compiling and revising the 53 pieces I wrote for the Coloradoan seemed like an interesting idea. It wouldn’t be too tough, and it would put me back into the world of non-fiction where I belong.

A few weeks ago, I began reviewing the articles, sorting them into sections such as people, events, advice, accessories and personal experiences. I began with the articles about people I’ve gotten to know through running.

Before long I realized that these people were still around, still running and that I’d need to update the articles about them. I have been truly amazed by their responses. They’ve been climbing mountains, riding bikes across the country, running up to 100 kilometers at a time and are full of plans for 2018. It has been a delight to add to each of their stories.

I am on number 13, so it will be a while before I finished this project but I am not sure I want to. It is so much fun!


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

A history with hair



I just got the haircut of my life—and it got me to thinking about my history with hair— defined in my antiquated Merriam Webster as the slender threadlike outgrowth of one’s epidermis—also described as the pigmented filaments that form the characteristic coat of a mammal. I am one.

I didn’t give my hair a second thought until sixth grade. Up until that time, all I remember is my mother sending me off to school with two long braids down my back. But all that changed when the braids got whacked off and social dancing after lunch in the gym at John Hay School every Tuesday afternoon became a high point on my social calendar. My hair HAD to look good.

The only way I figured out how to accomplish this was to have my mother cover my head with tiny pincurls which I went to bed with on Sunday nights. On Monday mornings my hair was a frizzy mess. By Tuesday, social dancing day, the tight curls had simmered down and my hair was, I thought, at its very best. Of course, that only lasted for a day.

Fast forward to high school and college which I proceeded through with medium short, medium curly hair which I enhanced myself using no longer existent bobbie pins.

Later, when I was a young mom and had no time for such frivolities, my hair got shorter—and shorter. So short that it would have been impossible to improve it with a bobbie pin or even a curling iron. And it stayed that way for eons until, about four months ago, I decided to let it grow.

Even though I have this wonderful and talented neighbor who cuts my hair, the growing out period was, well, just plain awful. But I persisted. I could make it look okay for 15 minutes or so before it resorted to the wild old woman look. I hung in with it through Christmas, but then, one morning the next week, after I’d washed it and messed with it and it looked as bad as ever, I was done.

I called my beloved haircut lady and said so. Okay she said, tomorrow morning 8:15. By 8:45, I was back to my old short-haired self and life was good.  I’m glad I did it, but no more experimenting.  It is what it is.