The Day I Raced Across the Brooklyn Bridge

The first day I ever went running in Brooklyn was the summer of 1997. I had been married for just over a year, and my husband was doing an internship in Manhattan. Since I was finishing out the school year (I worked at a middle school in Utah), Travis had been in the city for 1.5 months before I came out. I arrived at night, and we went straight to our friends’ apartment in Brooklyn, where all four of us would live that summer in about 300 square feet of space. Good times and a lot of Tetris... but I’ll save that for another post. The next morning I woke up and began to get on my running clothes. Travis was waiting for a futon from Ikea to be delivered, and convinced me to not run until after it came so he could accompany me and show me where to go. I thought this was very sweet and chivalrous of him, especially since I can be quite directionally challenged at times. So we sat around most of the morning until I got antsy, and decided to head out on my own. As I peeked out the window to check the weather, I saw a man getting cuffed by two sets of cops right across the street. Suddenly it became clear that Travis was less concerned about me getting lost than getting killed.
After my shady introduction to running in New York City, I quickly learned that the Brooklyn Bridge was the longest stretch without stoplights or cars. The biggest obstacles on the bridge were the tourists, who think nothing of stopping you full-stride to ask you to take their pictures, or point them in the direction of Junior’s. It became my habit to run across the bridge at least twice a week, and I did it under all kinds of conditions. I did it with a baby jogger. I did it in 15 degree weather with the wind threatening to blow me off. I did it while a Korean boy band filmed a really bizarre video. And then there was the time I raced across it.

It was a lovely spring day in 2006. We were preparing to move to the suburbs, and had lived in Brooklyn for 7 years. Our apartment was a good 1.5 miles away from the bridge, so by the time I got there I had already put in substantial mileage down the promenade and across Cadman Plaza park. As I ran up the steps to the bridge, I felt great. My two kids were at home with their dad, and the weather was perfect; bright and clear, but not hot. I tied my sweatshirt around my waist, cranked up the Killers on my iPod, and got ready to cruise.

There were two men, probably in their late 20’s, ahead of me at the entrance to the bridge. I had noticed them in Cadman Plaza park, first walking and then beginning to jog. It was evident they were just starting their run, and I couldn’t help but label them Brooklyn Heights softies as I blew by them on the bridge. Since they were now behind me I can’t verify what happened next, but I have a feeling that a look was exchanged as I passed them, and with mutual consent it was decided there was no way they were going to let me get away with passing them. Within seconds, both of them (one on each side of me) sprinted by, smirks plastered all over their faces. Well, they had messed with the wrong lady today.

I quickly increased my pace, and found Mr. Brightside, my go-to song for speed. They seemed surprised when they glanced back a few minutes later, and found me right on their tails. The pace was quite a bit faster than I’m used to running, and I think they found it fast as well, because after we were about halfway across the bridge one of them dropped off and began to walk. I nearly gloated aloud as I breezed by him, but I was trying to keep it classy so I just smiled. I stuck right behind Mr. Speedy the entire way, which in my estimation is about a mile. When we had reached the stairs at the end of the bridge he stopped and turned around, again showing shock that I was right behind him. He went back to meet his friend, and after I had looped around the end of the bridge, the three of us came face to face. As I jogged by, I met both sets of eyes. I saw shame in one set, and grudging respect in the other. Granted, I had not “won” the race across the bridge... but I had soundly beat one of them, and shown I could keep up with the other. I didn’t say a word, but I wished I had yelled, “Nice race guys! Now I’m going to run the two and a half miles back to RED HOOK where my TWO KIDS are waiting for me to come home!” I sure showed them.


Kickboxing in the Bedroom

Since I was a junior in high school, I have worked out pretty much every day. It all began when I started running as an “independent study” PE class. Still not sure how I convinced them to let me do that, but since getting in shape the first time was so horribly painful, I vowed to never get out of shape.

I really stuck to that, too. My “days off” from exercising at BYU consisted of church and hiking the Y, starting not from the parking lot of the Y but my apartment at 700 North. I took family and friends on walks they called “death marches”. The morning after having my first child, Travis mentioned he couldn’t believe I wasn’t going to go running that day. I tell you this not to brag (well, maybe a little) but to illustrate that working out is not something I take lightly.

Travis, on the other hand, is a fit guy but has never been one to do a “conventional” workout. No gyms for him; he prefers to ride his Swedish Army bike over the Manhattan bridge to work instead. Three weeks ago this all changed, when he and his sidekicks (co-workers) decided to join a kickboxing gym. Thus the ass-kicking began.

I’m a veteran kickboxer. Several months after my daughter was born I came to the realization that taking an infant running in her baby jogger when it’s 13 degrees outside is probably not the best idea. I was desperate for another form of exercise, and purchased several Tae Bo DVDs that I use three times a week to this day. When my son was about 6 months old, and was going to bed before his daddy came home and waking up after he left, I’m certain he thought that Billy Blanks was his father. I would load the DVD and the second Billy came onscreen he would begin to smile and coo. I didn’t hear him do that in response to Travis until months later.

Granted, Tae Bo and REAL kickboxing are probably somewhat different. But Travis is acting like he just invented Cadbury Mini-eggs or something. Every time I turn around, he is posed in an “attack” position... it’s a bit like living with a ninja. You never know when he might strike. Every night after he’s “kicked ass” he comes home and asks if he looks buffer. Then he shows me all his bruises from the workout, and finishes off by pleading for a massage. Please. If I acted like this every time I worked out we would be in serious trouble.

So today, we were “sparring” (his word) in the bedroom while taking a little break from packing. There was not much actual physical contact until I faked a roundhouse kick, not really intending to kick him. Travis blocked this kick by a full-force knee into my shin. It hurt like hell, and still does. Tomorrow is Sunday and I can’t wait to wear a knee length skirt so I can point out my enormous bruise to anyone and everyone. Do I hear a domestic abuse case brewing?

Damn You, Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake!

Those fetching Merediths. They asked if they could have Mercer’s first birthday party at our house, so it would be easier for Palmers and us to both attend. Stacey showed up with absolutely everything... she wouldn’t even let me make a salad. She brought the cups, the napkins, the ice... and a Godiva chocolate cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory. And then you know what they did? They LEFT IT AT MY HOUSE. I don’t even like cheesecake that much, but something about that gold box called to me every time I opened the refrigerator. When they left there was only about 1/8th gone, so I have single-handedly eaten almost an entire cheesecake by myself. Disgusting. I’d look up the fat content of the cheesecake online, but I think I’ve punished myself enough already.

Random Garment Sightings

This evening I had the pleasure of going to an upscale Manhattan spa for a facial. It’s one of the perks of having a husband who does design... free services and product tend to drift our way. At every other facial I’ve had (all four of them) the technician left the room while I took off my top(s) and slipped under the blanket on the table. For some reason, this woman didn’t. She just commanded “take off your top!” and began preparing the mask. As she was Russian, I didn’t really feel like I could argue. So I took off my shirt and then decided to take off my bra, slip off my garment top, and replace the bra. I noticed her looking and explained, “Oh, this is just an undershirt.” She quickly said, “You can keep it on... wear whatever makes you comfortable” and I said, “It’s mostly just to keep me warm, but I should be okay under the blanket.”

A blatent lie, obviously, but I didn’t really feel like getting into the deep religious significance of the Holy Garment. And this isn’t the first time it’s happened, either. When I was teaching school in Chicago, I had just returned from Thanksgiving break. Being pregnant at the time, apparently I “popped out” while everyone was on holiday. My good (non-member) friend Stacey ran up to me, and lifted up my shirt yelling, “Let’s see your belly!” and froze when she noticed that my stomach was covered with tight white cotton fabric. I said very quickly, “sometimesiweartwoshirts” and wrenched my blouse back down to conceal my little secret.

What are some of the random explanations you’ve used for your garments?

My Daughter, the Insomniac

My children definitely take after me in the sleep department. Legend has it that I napped until I was in first grade. My kids napped until around three and a half, but when they gave up their naps added many hours to their nighttime sleep to make up for the loss of daytime sleep. They have always gotten around 12-14 hours of sleep per night, and drifted off easily (with the right props, of course).

Lately, though, my 6 year old has been having a very difficult time falling asleep at night. I’m not sure if it’s that I’m trying to put her to bed earlier than her internal clock likes (left to her own devices she would go to sleep at 10 pm and arise at 10 the next morning), or the massive plasma TV we installed on the wall adjacent to her bedroom with surround-sound speakers in the walls. Probably a combination of the two. But every night she dinks around in the dark for an eternity, trying to fall asleep. I then literally drag her out of bed in the morning around 8, and begin the mad dash to school which starts 30 minutes later.

Her brother falls asleep promptly, but moves around a lot. After the side of his crib broke off (long story) we moved him to the twin bed, and she’s been residing in the three sided crib. He still falls out of the twin bed and for some strange reason my daughter lies on the floor to go to sleep. When you open the door to their room, you never know who you’ll find where. A few nights ago I opened the door and heard a thud as the door hit her head. She had fallen asleep about 1 foot away from the opening, and didn’t even flinch when the door whacked her.

My new plan involves her starting the night in our bed (where the surround sound is somewhat muted), with a subsequent transfer. It’s worked marginally well, but the kid has a staggering array of stall tactics. Apparently last night when she was in our bed she took off her pajama top and tied it on top of her head, and then fell asleep like that. So when Travis went in to move her to the white trash crib, he walked out holding her wearing no shirt and the weird pajama headdress. If only my digital camera hadn’t been out of batteries.

At any rate, I’m looking for some advice here. How on earth do I get this girl to go to sleep at night? Any tried and true suggestions? And don’t suggest Benadryl... if there’s even the slightest bit of moisture under her nose she gets it, and she still can fight sleep for hours.

American Idol is Usurping My Life

I’ve been waiting forever for someone I know to be on a Reality TV show. There were several near misses; Zora from Joe Millionaire was from Boulder, my friend Brooke knew someone on The Biggest Loser... but until this season of American Idol, there was no one I knew personally.

Then came Ace Young.

I’ve known Ace since he was a wee child. We’re not close friends, but I like to think he’d be able to pick me out of a crowd. His older brother Mark certainly could; we were in the same cooking class in high school, and he often entertained me while my cream puffs burned across the classroom. But Ace---about 6 years younger than I am---was always around at ward functions. His specialty was singing hip hop renditions of carols at the ward Christmas party with his mom and brothers.

My mother was the one to break the news; you’d have thought Ace was her son, she was so proud. I’ve never been a religious watcher of the program (I mean come on, it’s no Bachelor), but I could definitely identify Fantasia and Rueben for you, and I might even be able to hum a Clay Aiken song if tortured. Suddenly though, Idol has taken over my nights... with a vengeance.

I had no clue what a time commitment this show would be. They spent the first 5 weeks just showing the try outs. It was amusing at first, but after three nights at an hour per show, the whole mocking bad singers vs. the occasional jubilant success story was getting oooooooooooooooooold. So I skipped a few weeks but lucked out to see Ace’s try out. I could tell by the look on Paula’s face that he was “going to Hollywood!” She probably even owns several of these.

After tryouts came another few weeks of whittling down the massive group into 24 finalists. I tried watching some of these episodes; but frankly, it was just too much. How many sets of singing twins are there in the world? Finally the top 24 were announced; I was happy to hear that Ace had made it that far. I began watching in earnest again, but didn’t realize how often this freaking show is on. Again, three nights a week for hours and hours with about 20 million commercials packed in. They’ve ALMOST convinced me to buy a Ford.

Months after the premiere, they announced the top 12. This was a huge relief, as now the show would be condensed into two nights a week, but each Tuesday night show was a whopping two hours. What up Fox? How much time do you think we have to kill? We watched the first week of this and were almost as shocked as Ace when he appeared in the bottom three on results night. Mr. Supportive (Travis) softly muttered that he hoped Ace got kicked off the show, just so we could get our weeknights back. I half agreed with him.

So here I am now, sitting at my computer 45 minutes after the show has ended, frantically dialing so I can vote for Ace. The first few times my call failed and now I just get a busy signal. I should REALLY be loading the dishwasher and making lunches for tomorrow; it’s unbelievable how manipulated I’ve been by a TV show. Although I really can’t put all the blame on them; my mom has also pressured me to vote since Ace’s mom is her visiting teacher. My 5 year old daughter is pulling for Ace too, and has even picked out the song she wants to sing when she’s on American Idol... Puff the Magic Dragon.

All this, and I just found out the show goes until MAY. What’s a girl to do?


We were both born in Boulder, Colorado, one of us in 1973 (Sara) and one in 1979 (Carrie). Though six years apart in age, our lack of maturity has kept us close emotionally. Sara lives in Brooklyn, NY and Carrie resides in Denver, CO. Both of us consider ourselves urban ladies, who manage to be active in the LDS church (Mormon) while maintaining semi-hip wardrobes. If you’re looking for Doctrine-rich blog discussions, you better keep moving. There’s no guarantee you’ll find any such thing here.

Sara: I have two children, ages 6 and 4, who keep me relatively busy. My husband Travis also keeps me busy, since he thinks I’m his full time secretary. We’ve been married for 10 years in May, and I’m hoping for something fabulous from him on our anniversary. My typical day includes running (literally) my kids to and from school (we’re chronically late), usually in the freezing cold wind or snow. We own a car, but barely drive it since there’s nowhere to park it once you get where you’re going. I spend a fair amount of time reading, exercising, playing with my kids, and fighting with people’s housekeepers in the laundry room of our building (more on that later). We are planning a move to the suburbs of NYC in the next month which I plan to overdocument on this blog. Read it and weep.