Things I Wish I Had Known When My Dog Died
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On Jan. 4, 11 years and 26 days after I walked out of an animal shelter in New Jersey with a little white and brown dog attached to the end of a brand-new leash, she died. On this day, an undiagnosed tumor pressed down on Emily’s brain and told her that she needed to escape, which made her usually soft, cuddly and often napping body go wild, endangering herself and me. The humane thing to do was put her down.

I don’t think anything could have prepared me for that moment, or the searing grief that followed. But if I could go back in time to console myself, I would tell myself these six things:

New York Times, March 23, 2017

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Crossing the Finish Line 25 Pounds Lighter
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On a recent dreary morning I dragged myself to the gym. I’d run two miles in the rain earlier that day and really didn’t want to do my usual 20 minutes of weight lifting. But I showed up anyway and tried to blast myself through my routine with very loud and fast music playing in my ears.

I was about to cut my workout short when a trainer who works at the gym came over to me.

New York Times, October 8, 2015

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The stick shift: a love letter to a fun but fading American driving style
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Last August, I flew from Philadelphia to Ft Worth to buy my dream car: a 2002 Jeep Wrangler. TJ model, soft top, cherry red, no rust and, of course, a manual transmission. “Of course” is, in part, tradition. Is a Wrangler really a Wrangler if it’s an automatic? No, not really – and I felt that way even though I had never driven a car with a manual transmission before. I wanted to become a member of this shrinking club: that of the stick shift driver.

The Guardian, August 18, 2015

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Extra incentive to finish the New York City Marathon
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After I dressed for Sunday’s New York City Marathon, made sure I’d pinned my bib on straight, and put Clif Shot Bloks, ChapStick, and a $20 bill in my pocket, I took a Sharpie out of my backpack and wrote the number 261 on my right wrist.

“What’s that?” my mother asked.

“I’ll tell you later.”

Philadelphia Inquirer, November 9, 2014

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It’s All Good
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“We are famileeee!” the silver-haired volunteer yelled, singing along with Sister Sledge’s disco classic as it pumped out over two speakers. He was standing on the side of Martin Luther King Drive in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, swiveling his hips to the beat, and holding out a plastic bottle of water for me.

Runner's World, June 2014

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Running as Therapy
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I started distance running in 2007 because, in the short space of six months, the person I was dating left me for another woman, I bought a house (a rash decision) and my grandfather died.

I did not handle this well. As I was helping my mother pack up her parents’ house, I found myself too drained to move and lay down on the floor and sobbed. My mother suggested I try therapy. I signed up for a 10-mile race instead.

New York Times, March 20, 2014

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Shore Trip Confessional: Altercation on the Garden State Parkway

Last week I played hooky from my day job and drove to Cape May. The goal: Lock myself into a hotel room facing the ocean and work on a possible book project while enjoying what I consider a profound luxury — room service.

I was more than halfway there, on the Garden State Parkway just over the bridge between Ocean City and Sea Isle, when the front passenger tire blew. I pulled off to the side of the road, and after the shaking in my hands stopped, reached into my wallet to pull out my AAA card.

Philadelphia Magazine, March 26, 2014

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When a Woman Runner Becomes Men’s Target
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My favorite thing to wear for cold-weather running is a pair of violet capri-length tights that I bought for $10 at the Nike Outlet in Atlantic City. The material is sweat-wicking, and the bottom-leg elastic is snug but not so tight that I can’t slip a pair of knee-high compression socks under them. This setup is more comfortable for me than ankle-length tights.

They are perfect for running, but when I wear them I become a target. My rear end was smacked by a group of men passing me on my way to the gym; a cluster of teenage boys paused while shoveling snow to give me their opinions of my butt; and two men in a City of Philadelphia vehicle yelled out of their window how they thought I filled out my colorful pants. (Yes, I reported this to the city. No, there was no follow-up).

Philadelphia Inquirer, February 17, 2014

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The Bars of My 20s Have Closed

The end of Sugar Mom’s marked it: The bars of my youth are gone. The places I haunted as a 20-something are closed. Alfa, Sugar Mom’s, Bar Noir, Mad RiverLucy’s Hat Shop — kaput. Add Khyber Pass to that list, too, because while Khyber today is a very nice restaurant, it looks nothing like it did 10 years ago: a grimy club bar with writing on the bathroom walls and a second floor that shook when the band played too loud — which was always.

Philadelphia was not the same back then, either, not when I got my ticket to drink legally in 2001. No one was trying to re-brand the Gayborhood for marketing purposes. The dining scene was Le Bec Fin — period. No one was trying to convert everything into a condo. Of course this was before the domination of Facebook and Twitter, but we’d never have created a hashtag to make ourselves feel better for choosing Philadelphia. We were not city snobs. We didn’t need to tell people why we hung out in the city, or scream for validation. We just did.

Philadelphia Magazine, January 30, 2014

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I Dream of Conniff
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We weren’t allowed to listen to Christmas music in my family until our Thanksgiving dinner. Then we would play two albums in quick succession:Christmas with Conniff and We Wish You a Merry Christmas, both sung by the Ray Conniff Singers. These albums — vinyl, of course — would continue in constant rotation through New Year’s Day, along with John Denver and the Muppets, Anne Murray, Elvis, and a compilation from a variety of artists put together by the ladies of Avon cosmetics.

The Magazine, December 24, 2013

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Naked Face
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…I still felt left out, already slightly behind the puberty curve. I wore a bra and deodorant even though I didn’t need them. I hadn’t gotten my period yet, and there was no reason to shave my legs. Makeup was one part of womanhood that didn’t need my body’s internal clock to forge ahead, and I could not participate. Even the Girls Scouts had marked proper makeup application as an essential life skill.

The Magazine, January 21, 2014

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Waking Up with Eczema
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During my latest eczema outbreak, the routine was typical. I wake up and remove from my hands the white cotton socks that prevent me from scratching overnight, then press a tissue to my closed eyes to remove the pus and blood that have accumulated in the folds of my eyelids. In the bathroom, I try not to dwell too long at the sight of myself in the mirror before patting my skin dry and slathering it with lotion. I wrap bandages over the raw and weeping patches in the crooks of my elbows — a stopgap, really, since the bandages will soak through in several hours. I take Benadryl to calm the itching, and ibuprofen to temper the swelling and pain, before heading to meetings in an antihistamine haze. I hope no one stares, but they do.

New York Times, December 15, 2011

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What a Cow Taught Me About Running
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What’s running rock bottom? For me, it was being passed by a cow in a half marathon. The cow was ambling beside a fence, and she outpaced me on only about 100 meters. Still, she did it.

Until then, I’d been running for about five years. I was an O.K. runner, better than most. I didn’t expect to be offered a Nike sponsorship anytime soon, but I usually placed in the top three of women in my age group for local races. Prizes included a gift certificate to a taco joint called Macho Taco, a pair of Vibram FiveFingers Shoes and a gaudy trophy with what looks like a man on the top. Nothing fancy, but validation that I was doing something right.

New York Times, August 18, 2011

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The Cost of Bliss? $1.15 a Cup
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This year, there will be no more trips to Wawa. There will be no more $1.15 mornings and, sometimes, afternoons. This year, I am giving up coffee. I will take that $1.15 and buy myself something nice. That’s $8.05 a week, as much as $35.65 a month, and $419.75 a year. I could buy a winter coat, memory for my computer, a new TV. For myself, for the money, for the TV, I will break the $1.15 bind.

Philadelphia Inquirer, February 7, 2005

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