Happy Birthday Mr. President - Marilyn Monroe

Yesterday morning I got up early, made coffee in my new special mug, sat right down and started typing. No weird fucking around on Facebook, no Bejeweled Blitz, no online browsing for mid-century modern reading chairs. I was excited to write. I had so much news to report. I typed and typed, feeling like a nice hostess at a party, regardless of the fact that I have no idea who even comes to the party. I felt downright buoyant to have the opportunity to relay such a weird time in my life to people, my life as a stranger in a strange land. So I laid it all out, the week's events falling from my fingers like rain, easy and cool. When it came time for posting, time to attach the photograph to the header of the text, I clicked save to head, for just a moment, to a different browser window. Upon my return, one lonely paragraph waited for me, stood by me, while the rest of the text vanished.  The carefully chosen links resided someplace in the intervapor, the metaphors escaped to the ether, and my heart sank, a battered galleon on the high seas of self-publishing. I sat dumbly, a quick journey to the state of Denial, clicking and reclicking different buttons thinking the words would return, a prodigal son on horseback. No such luck. So I stood up, and headed out the door in the sausage outfit. Now, before I get to that, let me try and re-piece my last few days together.

It's been a big big week here, winding down to the infamous starting pistol. Physical therapy has uncovered many things. So far I have been working with Kevin, a delightful Irish lad with seemingly no body fat. He has appreciated both my t-shirts (Sonic Youth and vintage Harley) which puts my aforementioned fragile ego at ease, especially when he has me do this thing: Nice, charming Kevin hands me two thick rubber bands. Not like oversized ones from a desk, but more like oversized, new fangled, non-stick massive bands for the hair. One is placed around the middle of my thighs, and one is placed mid-calf. I am then directed to stand behind a masking tape line in the middle of the rehab studio. The line faces an enormous mirror. The last time I stood in front of such a mirror I lived in New York City. The town was eating me alive with underemployment, heartbreak, and low self-esteem. I decided I should at least take some of my long standing sadness into my own hands and begin a journey to taking my life on a sunnier stroll. I attended a sliding scale dance class. I love dancing. Not like the New York, I'm A Dancer kind of dancing, but just some hot rump shakin', steam releasing, basic funky Blood of Abraham kind of movin' it around. It was a beginner class. African dance. Beginner. BEGINNER. I found myself in a room with about thirty people, all with some kind of command of their bodies. Smaller bodies than mine. I looked into the reflective mural and saw a hunk of humanity moving in time, a togetherness of intent and joy. And I saw myself, a beat slower, three sizes bigger, oafy and graceless on the outskirts of the picture. Within ten minutes, I left the room. It was all I could do to gather my things and depart before the tears erupted, the volcanic self-loathing so much deeper than I had ever imagined. Magma of humiliation and defeat ringing hot in my ears, my throat. That moment has been my teacher and my guide. I first learned to be kind to that girl sobbing in an old New York hallway, and then from there, well, a woman can accomplish anything, really. The mirror in the rehab room reflected a body also bigger than its companions, just as clutzy, but the head topping it off showcased a face full of humor and willingness. After accentuating the pear shaped nature of my vessel with the bands, Kevin had me stick my ass out and squat from the knees. I was to sashay sideways along the tape, never letting the tension in the bands release. Back and forth across the line, I watched in the mirror as the woman there awkwardly made her way. And finished.

Kevin assigned me a few more tasks having to do with squats and stretches, closely eyeing my movements, making tiny corrections that translated into enormous efforts in my body. Turns out, that at some point in these movements, my hips kind of collapse and give up. After some time with the movement study, Kevin takes me to a treatment table where he provides ART. A girl might be tricked into thinking this is some kind of wonderful massage, but really, it's torture in service to making an effort to create relief from longstanding compensations the body has made. In my case, it looks like the right glute, more commonly referred to as the ass, does not work so good. In fact, when isolated and asked to offer resistance to Kevin's pressure, the right side gives out as if it were made of tissue paper. The left side, on the other hand, performs more like a battalion of Marines. After all these years, it seems like my parents foreshadowing may finally have some grounds. I am literally, half-assed. 

Kevin gives me homework. Dr. Greene cracks a bunch of things. My foot is still recovering from the long needle it had in it. But yesterday the schedule had 12 miles on it. And as you know, the show must go on.

The good news is, when I headed out on my run after my new exercises, bruises on my ass from the ART, and fueled up with some farm fresh eggs for breakfast, my body felt so strong. I had taken two days off from the shot in combination with my treatments and my stride felt downright athletic. I climbed the long Mission hill with no complaints in my mind at all. Everything felt long and ropey inside my limbs, easily prepared for battle with the road. My posture felt sure and my core engaged. Course, the bad news is, my left heel didn't feel ready for the pounding. Not twelve miles of it. Each step felt as though someone was tugging the skin around the outside of the foot into a nail. I decided that I would finish out the hour and return home, not risking pushing it too hard right here in the home stretch. I can elongate some milage during the week in response to this, but if I fall apart before the race, my heart will break. So like many people have urged me, I chose caution so I have the option to push when I must. I finished five miles in 55 minutes, sustaining an 11 minute pace for longer than I thought I could. The run felt exhilarating, even with the truncating decision. I actually loved it. Except when that dude passing in a car made a kissing noise at me. Attention nice men: the most disgusting thing you can do verbally to a passing lady is make a wet kissing noise at her. It's nauseating. And so briefly, I did have a murderous feeling flare up. 

My fear is that I am like a contestant on American Idol that you root for in the early weeks. And that as the pressure mounts, as the deadline approaches, your contestant begins to doubt herself, make bad choices. One week she selects a Whitney Houston song showcasing her valleys where in fact there should be rare heights. The next week she picks our friend Celine Dion and you watch as she slowly unravels, Simon shaking his head while clutching his Coca Cola sippy cup. She forgets how to do her own thing, the thing that got her there in the first place, and in the face of a massive audience, loses her way, blinded by the light. I am afraid to run with 25,000 people. My friends and family flanking the race, watching me inch along in pain and blundering, bulky. I know I must constantly reinvest my stake in the process and not the destination, but it is what we are taught. Goals. Achievements. Accomplishments. Blue Ribbons, Finish Lines, and Gold Medals. I know the antidote to my fear is to believe in the singular step as the reward. And sometimes I can. 

But mostly, I need help.

Which is why I want to tell you that this week has been an incredible windfall of encouragement. I have, out of the blue, received so very many letters and notes from people, kind and inspiring words that have kept me focused on the singular step, the jog toward a new peace, and also a huge thank you note to the woman who walked out of the dance class. Her courage to let her heart break provided me with a doorway to fuse the torched thing back together. 

The race is two weeks from today. 
Fourteen days.
Dos semanas.

It also feels like a good time to mention that the writers for this years RADAR Lab are heading off soon to toil away on their work. I can't say enough times, that as difficult as this marathon process has been, writing my novel has been around a million times harder. This race is to raise money to keep this program alive. The funding has been mostly cut. In the name of this marathon, please help keep writers writing. 


Sara Elise

PS... You'll note from my photograph that some curtains have been purchased for the new living room. Thanks for asking.

PSS... Happy Birthday Coach Cadwallader!!! Renaissance Butch.


  1. A sometimes-wise woman (my sister Nikki) told me once "better to call it a day than call it an injury." Probably the HARDEST advice to heed, but it is absolutely right-on. Look how awesome you felt after a shorter but faster run. If you'd have trudged along, you'd have probably forgotten the good parts and been pissed at yourself instead.

    Trust me, you will feel like a rockstar on race day. It doesn't matter that your friends and family (and me, from a distance) won't be able to cheer you on every mile - the crowds are amazing and if you're like me, you will get chills from people hooting and hollering (but not making kissing noises) at you. Enjoy it, revel in in! There aren't many opportunities to get cheered on in life, so I take it where I can get it!