Hallelujah - Leonard Cohen

Saturday was a big day here in San Francisco. It was sunny. No fog. No drizzle. No spring showers. Just big big sun. Of course, since we are here, there was some attending breeze, which is part of what I love about living here. I love the sun, but I hate being too hot. Unless there is a pool and an air conditioned room someplace near. For instance, when maybe you pile a bunch of lesbians into a mid century modern house for a week in Palm Springs and you go out and do a huge grocery shopping and the rest of the week is spent meandering from the pool to the jigsaw puzzle to the kitchen to the pool and in the cool evening, a final jaunt to the hot tub under the stars. I just mean, for instance. Other than that, I like it here, mild and easy. Rain? I'll take it. 

As a result, I usually run in long sleeves. This provides me protection from tattoo inspired inappropriate comments from strange men on Market Street, some comfort from the elements, an assurance that there will be no weird shirt chaffing under my arms, and a great place to wipe the flow of snot that accompanies all chilly jogs. But buoyed by this development in heat, I took Saturday for a nice trial run at going a long distance on our first real summer day here by the Bay with an alteration to the sausage outfit. I donned an actual tank top. 

Now, since the weather here is of the mild variety and since we have been in our non-shiny seasons, there was much for me to forget about with the sun. Most notably that it will burn a person. This situation is much like how I feel when I hear men and women talk about their process of creating a family. Since a lot of my time is spent in my beloved gay ghetto, I actually forget that when men and women have sex with each other, this could very well result in a pregnancy. My people are always trying so damn hard to get pregnant, coming up with different plans involving so much temperature taking, money, huge conversations with different couples or seducing strangers in bars, I forget that simply doing it (with a man) on a random tuesday afternoon could do the trick for folks. I plumb forget that sex with men gets ladies pregnant. And like this, I forget the simple scientific fact that the sun will fry a lady's winter shoulders. Needless to say, I left the house without sunscreen. 

Here are some results from my outing: 

I knew I wanted to be out there for two and half to three hours. I also knew that my left heel was killing me, as I unfortunately spoke too soon about the new running shoes fixing everything. My soul was still a little on the flaccid side of the bed, and I was beginning to live once again in my deep fear of failure. I knew I couldn't run for very long that day. Or maybe I put that spell on myself, but no matter how I arrived at that place in my head, there I was. I decided to just stay put anyhow, whether I walked or ran or what. Just stay put, I thought. And as miracles do happen: I did it. I walked about a third of the time. I did sprints as well. I ran and I walked. I walked and I ran. I had no deep thoughts. The time was not very interesting. I plunged deeper into the idea that I was losing it during crunch time. I could not find the feeling of being happy that I had persevered when normally I would have quit, although I could see that as true, but instead I felt flat. Almost bored. But not quite. 

Then I got home to find I had in fact, missed the sunscreen in a big way. 

Meanwhile, my coach has sent me my final training schedule. The thing is so daunting. Not because it's unreasonable, but because I am having trouble finding the belief in myself this will take. Between now and the race I will have to pack up my home and move, go to work many hours a week, run a few hundred miles, and get back on the wagon with sugar. Did I mention I fell off the wagon last week?

Well, I did. 

See? I feel like it's all slipping. The nutrition. The performance. The body pain. I am losing sight of why I am trying to do such a weird thing. 

I suppose this is the thick DOUBT portion of the program. The part of the training that stands in for how I feel sometimes in life. 

Wait, why am I doing all this? 
Why do I have to go to work for 40 hours? 
Why am I trying to write a book when there are billions of other books for people to read? 
Why am I writing a blog about this?

I think being Jewish has always for me been about a heritage of intellectual inquiry. I was taught to ask all the time, Why? This inquiry would be my path to a learned life. And now it feels like part of being a Jewess, non-practicing, yet wholly identified, is about that piece of accepting that the places where Why doesn't work, are the biggest lessons of all. That Why is not a spiritual question, and that sometimes a girl must just throw her big Jewish nose to the sky, square her sunburned shoulders to the dark and walk ahead with even breath, believing that mostly the Not Knowing is, in fact, the Why

And speaking of writing a book, I am embarking on a five day trek of working solely on the running and the writing on Saturday with the writers Rhiannon Argo and Michelle Tea. You will get a break from this running talk and a sashay through the marathon of the novel.

And speaking of being Jewish, I cannot leave you without saying how crushed I am by the events of this week concerning the flotilla that the Israeli forces invaded. It's like how if a child grows up being abused, their chances of becoming abusers are painfully and tragically higher. I feel like that's what this looks like to me. We are a people who for centuries have been hunted and tortured, picked on, singled out and humiliated. And now here is the moment we go nuts, preying the same way on a people that just wants to eat. To live. I am devastated by my tribe. And I know my name appears on this thing called the SHIT List, Self Hating Israel-Threatening Jews, because our culture makes us pick sides. But I am on the side of kindness. Not the side of land rights. And frankly, I would think we, of all people, would know better. 

And so I say for myself, in a voice clear as a bell, Not In My Name. I am so sorry to the families who are suffering in this occupation in Gaza, but also to all of us, Jews and Gentiles alike, who are suffering in the occupation of our very minds. I grew up int he shadow of death camps, Hebrew school teaching us to stand by our homeland no matter what the cost. But now I feel like the cost is too high. I want my people to be free, but not at the expense of the humans who live next door.

I feel afraid to post this. Like I said, I know it's not popular to be a Jew who speaks out against the actions of Israel. And I know this is a blog about running and writing. And I know I took a harsh left turn back there. I respect the space for all Jews to disagree with me. To defend their homeland by any means necessary. I want to be able to argue amongst ourselves productively. I guess I just don't see how approaching a literal white flag with an Uzi makes any sense at all. 

Peace to us all.

Sara Elise


  1. thank you for writing and running and making left turns for the phrase "not in our name". love, corrie

  2. i love this blog; your honesty; your verve; and your courage. [from sandra t.]

  3. have you read this? it helps me, as a jew, a little:


  4. You're absolutely right to speak up. Sometimes, as a non-religious gentile, I don't feel like I have the right/credentials/whatever to speak up on either side, for anything to do with religion, and it doesn't sit right with me either.