This is the tree about which I am talking. (Sometimes proper grammar sounds really stupid, doesn't it?)

29

Date: May 6, 2014 at 11:16 am- by Ali- Comment(s): 74

Last night, my BFF Michael came over to deliver some wonderful treats. She’s a great friend and an excellent neighbor. One of the magical treats was a huge bag of Starburst. She knows what I like.

This morning, Brian came back from his training ride as I was getting out of the shower.

With a big, goofy grin on his face, he looked at me and asks, “Did you eat Starburst for breakfast?!”

“No,” I told him. Because I hadn’t.

“What’s that smell then?” sweet Brian asked.

I just sort of gave him a little smile, and then he realized: “Is that mango soap?!”

Mango soap on the left, grapefruit candle on the right. Zebra plate underneath.

Mango soap on the left, grapefruit candle on the right. Zebra plate underneath.

You’re damn right you smell mango soap, buddy! (And good idea on the Starburst for breakfast…)

I’m celebrating today. I’m celebrating happiness and a slight semblance of health. I’m also celebrating a hat trick: three bathroom stop-free runs in three days.

I already told you about Sunday’s run.

BOLD! (That's Brian's team. I'm an "honorary member," which means I get all the gear and am invited on none of the group rides.)

BOLD! (That’s Brian’s team. I’m an “honorary member,” which means I get all the gear but am invited on none of the group rides.)

Yesterday, I was able to get out for a lunchtime run along the West Side Highway — the route where I fell in love with running a few years ago. It was a beautiful day and I ended up covering 7.1 miles without making a single stop.

Take my breath awaaaaaay.

Take my breath awaaaaaay.

Then, this morning, I made my way to Central Park, and when I tell you it was a perfect morning to be out there, I really mean it was the most perfect day of all time. Everyone was out. Everyone was happy. Brian was in the park riding and I saw him three times, and that always adds a little pep to my otherwise husky step.

Brian out for a training ride.

Brian out for a training ride.

This morning, I ran 8.5 miles and I did not have to stop and use a bathroom even one time. I ran happy and dare I say I ran healthy? I even got to spend a few minutes at the end chatting with Bernie. But then someone sat on him, so I left.

BFFs. I wonder about Bernie In Real Life almost daily.

BFFs. I wonder about Bernie In Real Life almost daily.

So that’s my hat trick: Three runs, no stops. This feels downright monumental. I know not to get too excited about these things, but I’m also in a perpetual “you can’t bring me doooooown!” (name that musical) kind of mood these days.

Instagram was made for springtime in Central Park, I think.

Instagram was made for springtime in Central Park, I think.

While Brian and I were driving back from Massachusetts on Sunday evening, Kelly Clarkson’s song “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger” came on the radio.

“Ugh, change it,” I told him right away. “I hate this song.”

And then I backtracked.

“I actually don’t hate the song,” I claimed. “I just hate the title of it and I hate that quote. I hate when people say that to me when I’m sick.”

It’s true: Whenever I’m in my darkest, lowest places, someone inevitably comes around to optimistically remind me that “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

And, inevitably, I hate that person and refuse to give into this quote. Because when I’m so sick and so sad, I don’t believe that having Crohn’s and dealing with those flare-ups will make me stronger. I only feel like it’s killing me.

An old shot, but a classic.

An old shot, but it’s always relevant.

Crohn’s disease doesn’t make me stronger physically, no. It kicks my ass.

But I guess I’m somewhat on board with the quote now. Because mentally, I am a hell of a lot stronger than I have ever been. This disease — its big ups and those down down downs that come on without notice — has changed me so profoundly over these past few years.

STRONG ENOUGH TO DRIVE A TRACTOR VROOM VROOM. I was actually terrified this thing was going to somehow turn on while Tyler and I were playing on it. That's probably why you're not supposed to "play" on heavy machinery.

STRONG ENOUGH TO DRIVE A TRACTOR VROOM VROOM. I was actually terrified this thing was going to somehow turn on while Tyler and I were playing on it. That’s probably why you’re not supposed to “play” on heavy machinery.

I was in such a bad place last year at this time that I even scared myself, let alone scaring my loved ones. I was so unstable and just so incredibly unhappy. I was sick and exhausted and I cried to the point of dehydration.

So maybe this disease has made me stronger after all.

Or maybe the strength comes with age.

I turn 29 today.

Lovely flowers (those are tulips, right?) in front of my second-favorite Central Park bathroom. This photo was taken on my leisurely walk home last night. Special.

Lovely flowers (those are tulips, right?) in front of my second-favorite Central Park bathroom. This photo was taken on my leisurely walk home last night. Special.

I am not where I ever thought I would be at 29, I suppose.

Growing up, I assumed that at a fairly young age, I’d be married with children, a house, a car or two and a thing people refer to as a “401(k).” I didn’t ever have a “plan,” just loose expectations based on my own parents’ lives (married at 23, Ryan at 25, me at 27, happily ever after soon thereafter).

If nothing else, having a chronic and unpredictable illness has taught me that making plans — life plans, lofty plans, long-term plans, dinner plans — is actually kind of overrated. (And if you’ve been reading this blog for longer than a year or so, you know that this is a major shift in mindset; but a good one.)

TOO MANY PLANS. Yes, I prefer paper calendars to Google Calendar. Always will.

TOO MANY PLANS. Yes, I prefer paper calendars to Google Calendar. Always will.

I hate that I feel like I lost the past two years of my life — I don’t have an abundance of happy memories from age 28. My disease took over and I didn’t get to do so many things. I didn’t get to run all those races I registered for, I didn’t get to take that trip to Hawaii with Brian, and I didn’t get to plan or attend Tyler’s first birthday party. I missed out on so much.

NOT Tyler's first birthday party. This is his second birthday party, and he didn't understand the concept of blowing out the candles. Instead he smacked the cake with his hand and yelled "It's Mickey!" It was cute and I didn't care that he punched a hole in his own cake.

NOT Tyler’s first birthday party. This is his second birthday party, and he didn’t understand the concept of blowing out the candles. Instead he smacked the cake with his hand and yelled “It’s Mickey!” It was cute and I didn’t care that he slapped a hole in his own cake.

This disease — and perhaps the wisdom I’ve gained in the past 29 years — has made me appreciate today. I appreciate every good day.

Lyrics from one of my current song obsessions: "Chasing the Sun" by Sara Brarieislailes. Not sure about the spelling of her last name, but that seems right enough.

Lyrics from one of my current song obsessions: “Chasing the Sun” by Sara Brarieislailes. Not sure about the spelling of her last name, but that seems right enough.

I may get sick again tomorrow and that may lead me down a spiral that sucks away another two years of my life.

But I just had a great weekend, and a few great weekends before that, and today started the best way I can imagine.

Brian, should we frame this for our apartment? Probably not, I guess. But let me know what you think.

Brian, should we frame this for our apartment? Probably not, I guess. But let me know what you think.

I am basking in every single one of these good days.

As I walked home through Central Park last night, I couldn’t stop taking pictures of all the gorgeous flowers in full bloom. At one point, I stuck my face right into a pink-flowered tree.

This is the tree about which I am talking. (Sometimes proper grammar sounds really stupid, doesn't it?)

This is the tree about which I am talking. (Sometimes proper grammar sounds really stupid, doesn’t it?)

I realized at that moment that I was finally in a good, can’t-stop-smiling kind of mental place: I had literally stopped to smell the roses…or cherry blossoms.

Last year I made a whole bunch of birthday wishes for myself. Some never came true (Celine Dion hasn’t committed to a New York City residency and I didn’t get to run the Brooklyn Half Marathon), but so many of the important ones eventually did — it just took a really, really long time.

Screen shot 2014-04-27 at 3.11.56 PM

Back at yoga! Back at spinning! Back with Bethany! BACK WITH JENNY FROM CHINA after she abandoned me and my love at the end of second grade.

I ran a lap of the Reservoir…and then I ran many more laps, and even the New York City Marathon.

I’ve enjoyed a few days without pain.

I got to be at Tyler’s birthday party.

If that smile doesn't just make you melt...it's because you're an asshole. Noooo, kidding.

If that smile doesn’t just make you melt…it’s because you’re an asshole. Noooo, kidding.

I’ve slept through the night, I got a new couch and I did eventually get my Pepperidge Farm cake (it wasn’t as delicious as I had remembered).

Best of all, I got to remember what it feels like to be healthy. Maybe not fully, but good enough really is good enough for now.

I’m embracing a new job, a change in environment and atmosphere, and a lot of really valuable, quality relationships. Sometimes it seems like a miracle that I have friends left after these past few years. I know I haven’t been the most fun, the most available or the most tolerable, but that makes me cherish the people in my life so much more.

This is my office now.

This is my office now.

Thank you for sticking with me through the past year. I imagine reading my nonstop complaining about being sick wasn’t entertaining at times, but the support I found through this blog has been life-changing. The Tweets, comments and emails I’ve received on my worst days are the ones that kept me going. You have kept me going. You helped me get to 29.

Now for real, when are we going to have our Cheese & Dairy Queen & Pitch Perfect Singalong & Baby-Sitter’s Club Movie Viewing & Lurlene McDaniel Book Club Party? I already said I’d host, I just need a headcount. And someone to bring the Dairy Queen.

So let’s do this, 29. Hit me with your best shot.

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Spring Duathlon At Smolak Farms Recap

Date: May 5, 2014 at 7:34 am- by Ali- Comment(s): 32

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Happiness = sweaty hugs.

Happy

Date: April 27, 2014 at 8:12 pm- by Ali- Comment(s): 54

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He has a son now, and I have a lot of split ends now.

Changes

Date: April 18, 2014 at 8:27 am- by Ali- Comment(s): 92

Three years ago, I found myself in a pretty bad place. I was in a relationship that had deteriorated—though I refused to acknowledge the reality of the situation for too long. So I was blindsided when my boyfriend at the […]

 
NYC. The sunshine state.

On My Mind

Date: April 15, 2014 at 5:47 pm- by Ali- Comment(s): 87

First, a note about Boston: It seems wrong to write without acknowledging the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombings. I hate that that’s how we reference the anniversary. I don’t like that “Boston Marathon” is attached to the word […]

 
Awwww my old familiar route along the West Side Highway! Remember when I used to live over there? I guess not, because I didn't really have this blog up and running yet.

My Happiness Hat Trick

Date: April 7, 2014 at 9:09 pm- by Ali- Comment(s): 37

When you’re sick, weekends suck. It’s not like, “Oh, sweet, it’s the weekend, I can get lots of rest and feel better by the time the workweek returns on Monday!” No, not at all. Instead, being sick on the weekend […]

 
For my 22nd birthday, the guy I was dating at the time took me into New York City (I was living in Connecticut then) to take me to dinner at the Loeb Boathouse. He was so pissed that I had never heard of it. He also turned out to be a total dick, so it's fine. My mom is not going to be happy that I just used that word. She hates it.

The Triumphant Return Of Thankful Things Thursday

Date: March 20, 2014 at 10:52 am- by Ali- Comment(s): 88

Big things are happening. Huge. On Tuesday, I ran to work! It was cold and wonderful. My first morning run! On Wednesday, I fully reacquainted myself with public transportation. I rode the subway three times and took the bus once. […]

 
Look at that stunner!

!!!

Date: March 12, 2014 at 9:27 pm- by Ali- Comment(s): 70

Last Friday morning, I was taking my usual obnoxious expensive cab to work, and the driver asked me the most annoying question a cab driver can ask, which is, “Which way do you want to go?” (I always think they’re […]

 
This seems better than any side effect-filled drug, no?

My Great Escape

Date: February 28, 2014 at 10:43 am- by Ali- Comment(s): 108

This is a “15 Thing Friday,” if you will. I had a post ready to go that ended up being just another “I have Crohn’s and I hate it so much every day lately” update. Boooooring at this point, right? […]

 
OH GOD, THAT IS SO BEAUTIFUL.

February 18

Date: February 18, 2014 at 9:39 pm- by Ali- Comment(s): 26

I was going to stop by the internet today to tell you about the very disappointing failure that was February 10. About how I showed up for my appointment, so excited in my tracksuit, and Study Lady was just shocked […]