Jacqueline Garcia is an incredible actor with a sharp wit and keen sense of irony. I met her several years ago when our kids went to preschool together. After I started running, I would trot nearby and listen to the wry humor flow from her mouth like water from a faucet. Her opinions are pointed, intellectual, and hysterically funny.
Today, I am thrilled to post this essay by Jacqueline Garcia. She took time out from her busy schedule as a working actor and mother of two boys to write this piece. As with many writers, she didn’t know what she meant to say until she finished writing and could step back to see what hit the page. Jacqueline talks about the insane chatter that happens in women’s heads, and how running in the company of other women can silence the hysteria, if only for a few minutes.
Jacqueline can be found on-stage in The Den of Thieves @ the Vintage Theatre (Denver, CO) 11/6-11/29.
For ticket information,visit http://www.vintagetheatre.com/ticketinfo.htm
Running with an eating disorder and other mental illnesses.
by Jacqueline Garcia
If a one hundred pound woman ran 75 minutes at a 10-mile an hour pace, how many calories would she burn?
This isn’t the prelude to a joke. This is a practical application of math which some adult promised I would futuristically use if I did my homework. It is also the stream of consciousness of a runner with hideous, Lycra sausage legs. Clearly, my runner’s high is an endorphin-fed state of pathology.
I have a deep and abiding love for the written word. And as a rule, I am adverse to first person narratives. I mean, truly, didn’t part of you just want to say to Carrie Bradshaw, “Shut up about your sex life, you aren’t very cute at all!” Or tell Randy Pausch, author of The Last Lecture: “While I’m very sorry for your ordeal, do you not see the irony in trying to convince people not to be so self absorbed and indulgent by indulging your own self-absorption in a lecture series about your own fabulously altruistic self?” But alas, sane people don’t talk to their televisions and good people don’t speak ill of the dead. So I guess that I’ve further established that I am insane. And not such a good person.
During Saturday morning parking lot role calls I look around and wish that I could say about running some of the loftier things that my lovely running mates do. It’s shameful, but the principle reason that I run any given morning can be found right there among the APA’s seven categories: mania, melancholia, monomania, paresis, dementia, dipsomania, and epilepsy. Although, I think I can rule out epilepsy. Maybe I’m just crazy.
It’s necessary to prepare the mind and body for a ten-mile run, especially when your head is already hard to live in. For example, visualization techniques are useful for making sure that the uterus stays strapped in, Lamaze breathing is helpful through the first ten brutally painful minutes of dilating lung spasms, and disassociation from the disturbing sensation of butt and thigh jiggles is a must. And, if at all possible, I suggest always running in the company of women. Women talk! They talk like hens. Some of them even talk even when they’re out of breath, which can sound a lot like they’re being interrogated at gunpoint. I could actually kiss these women for distracting me from myself with their hundred different, parallel conversations. Literally, if I were to lay a big, painful egg right now I might not notice. I am absolutely enjoying the company and the rhythm of motion.
However, I am very thirsty. “Can I have sip of somebody’s water?” I don’t carry my own water, as the water belt is a really unflattering running accessory on some people, namely Me.
The morning light has begun turning everything a sort of early-morning-soft pink and I wonder what mile we’re at. It’s pretty. Beautiful, even. There are souls in this running group who are far more evolved than I. People who rightly celebrate the “Ohm” quality of nature by actually whipping out a camera and snapping a photo. I’ve seen them capture the humbling awe of wildflower faces. If I were to take a picture, if it were to occur to me to even bring a camera, my photo would probably unintentionally frame deer scat.
Anyone familiar with Frank Warren’s Postsecrets; Confessions on Life, Death and God? This is a project where people write down their darkest truth and mail it to Frank’s filthy PO box. Life, Death and God? Really, Frank, God? Way to guile other people into writing a wildly commercially, successful book for you. Okay, sure, you had the ugly idea to be a textual voyeur first. And the creator of Crocs had the idea to make ugly shoes first. But what a blight! Wouldn’t we be so much better off without these hideous examples of gross commercialism that masquerades as art and fashion? Again, I majorly digress. But I would like to say that My god is a jealous gasbag who cares way too much about what people thinks of how she looks while she is wearing me. How’s that for a secret, Frank? Does that sentence make me heretical? It sure doesn’t make me agnostic, as it clearly acknowledges an existence of God… even if that God is presumably me? Dear God, dear Me, Oh no I’m also a narcissist! I knew it.
And just like that, my grace is gone. My feet have no purchase. I’m going down. Taking a digger. The universe is reaching her boney, tree root hand up out of the dirt in reprisal for my sin of conceit.
Then again, maybe it isn’t as linear as all that. I’ve always been a faller as much as I am a runner…and usually in the last stupid mile! The flatirons are Delphic to me and I stumble like a sinner through the valley of death. Falter, falter, falter. I often gash open my knees or elbows and bleed all over the trail just daring bears and cougars to find and finish me. It has been suggested to me by a friend that what I really am is a cutter. That I continually need to inflict physical pain in order to not feel the emotional pain of life. Boo Hoo.
So does this mean that instead of using a razor blade like some high school aged emo girl, my implements are flagstones and gravity? What am I, a cavewoman cutter?! Man, I’m old as dirt. Where’s my damn car.
1066 calories. That’s how many calories I’ve burned. But I’ve also stock piled endorphins and anecdotes and have earned a soy latte to wash down a handful of Prozac. Ah, that’s better. Once again, I’m so glad that I went running. The doctors can’t institutionalize me if they can’t catch me.