#ABalletSeries

Created in #procreate during #commuteart by Jerlyn M. Thomas

I still don’t know what I will be doing with these but I started drawing these during the later part of last year and made them into a series. I would certainly love to do some of these live. In the meantime, here’s a consolidation of most of them. They were all drawn on my iPad during my commute to and from places in NYC on the MTA.

I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring

BowieRIP David Bowie. This post is about relationships you guysssssss… and it’s mostly random babbling but it’s about epiphanies.

This past year has been incredible for me in terms of growth—well, that’s me reflecting on my self, it’s all I have. I truly wish that somehow I could have transported what I learned to 21-year-old me. However, since that wasn’t the case, it was last week that I realized how far I’ve come. It also made me realize that I had dated some pretty terrible people (and I didn’t deserve it).

I’ve made it my purpose to master the subtle art of not giving a fuck but I also know that I had to handle maturity and closure today. With that said, closure is this blog entry.

I’ve been dating someone, still haven’t disclosed his name online, and many of you know he exists (c’mon that Irish Guy in my photos all over the social networks wasn’t hired to appear with me for funsies). We’ve decided not to be Facebook friends, we’ve discussed our futures, and have been somehow coexisted with our very different lifestyle, opinions, views etc. Trust me, we love each other.

It’s tough to avoid comparing the relationship you’ve had with your exes with your current partner/lover. If you’re better than me at that, that’s ok however I had a nice long list of everything this guy was doing right that I absolutely LOATHED about my past relationship. The disgruntled me had addressed my ex boyfriend multiple times in past blog entries and unfortunately this current guy went through the same. Thankfully I never told him outright “Well, when you do this… you remind me of my ex.” I’ve never had to because it never happened. I kept wondering if this was real. I fell in love, he showed me what it was like to really date someone the proper way. I didn’t realize how damaged I had been.

My ex and I WERE a terrible match. It was by far my absolute worse relationship. It was extremely abusive. While pointing fingers, I realized years later it’s because he discouraged me from everything I’ve wanted to try. I spent most of the relationship rebelling and not knowing why. I knew something was wrong. He made fun of my body parts, thought he was more intelligent than I was, belittled me and wondered how would it ever be possible that I, someone without a masters degree, ever got to the point to earn more than he did within my first year of working. I always wondered why he found pleasure in knowing he was doing better than everyone and comparing himself. Those values weren’t my own!

Many years later when I met the same types of guys, I remember one prior to this relationship who tried to tell me that he didn’t like some more body types—my hair, I immediately told them they had to go. I didn’t know how toxic he had been until I wondered if I really had been ghosting men because incompatibility or because I had been afraid.

Fast Forward to 2015: Remember the 30 things I wanted to do before I was 30? Well, I wrote that list mostly because of all the things I felt held back from doing. After my brother passed away in 2008, I subconsciously spiraled out of control. Hardly remembering faces, just getting more into work, I focused on running and lost myself in it. I still love it. Running saved my life. I learned how to love myself again and refocused my energy. Then somehow met my current boyfriend and confidant. I can talk to him about everything, he genuinely cares. We spent months just focusing on each other and developing our lives.

Then it happened. Facebook and its mutual friends and its alerts. “You must know this person.” THANK YOU. Facebook displayed that my ex now has a kid and is married/getting married. Of course I went into the rabbit hole of photos.

I was completely surprised by my response—I couldn’t help myself, I’m human after all. It was like the time I had spent with my current boyfriend didn’t exist for a moment when I began thinking: Wow, I just made 30. This would’ve been me but, did I really want that to have been me?

Then I got back to real life: Jerlyn, you’re in no way ready to have these things. This isn’t your time. Are you forgetting everything you’ve experienced in the past year? Then out of nowhere flashes of the things I’ve done in the past years since my ex and I have broken up. I remember his ex girlfriend calling me up after 5 years we had broken up and crying to me. Then I was thankful of him no longer being a part of this drama. Then I remembered running. The same thing that he did daily and I was never good at.

Yet today I do more than he had ever done. I remembered the 9 marathons, 5 ultra marathons, triathlon and short races that I’ve done since 2008 when we moved out. I remembered taking the risks in my career that I had always wanted. I remembered publishing a book with my illustrations. Then I looked at myself. Would I have been fine with procreation with someone like him? With that abuse. Nope, sorry I dodged a bullet.

Of course I’m not saying that his current lady hadn’t dodged one as well. I’m saying that I’m so grateful that we finally found the right people for us and I’m genuinely happy that we did. The most unfortunate thing is that we don’t get that maturity sometimes for some time in our life. I needed life experiences to get me ready. I also needed to have been with someone who I felt completely one with. Back in the time that I was in a relationship with him I wanted to see myself marrying him and never could. I wanted to see myself having children with him and that wasn’t possible. I also remembered introducing him to my folks when I wasn’t ready. It wasn’t right. Then I felt incredibly happy for him. He found someone for himself and I had too!

While in thought, I thought of my current boyfriend and all the weekends I spent laughing, meeting his family and finally telling him that I’d love for him to meet mine. Nothing forced. I remembered my boyfriend holding my hand, I remember the sweet notes that he wrote to me when he packed me lunches in the morning, I remember him treating me exactly how I imagined a boyfriend would treat me. He walks over to open my door every time. I’m not embarrassed being myself around him and him around me. He talks to me about getting married. We discuss what our children might look like. We talk about our beliefs. I reminisce about my childhood and he’s completely fascinated. He cherishes me. I’m finally happy. I know that we can’t predict the future but this feels quite right.

Yes, it’s tough to avoid comparing your exes. If it wasn’t for my ex, I would have avoided certain things I’m who I am because of him.

You might be more mature than me if you don’t compare but this was a perfect time for me to find closure.


P. S. I totally let him know that I was happy for him, and he has a lovely family now. I call all this growth :).

What’s up 2016! Peace out 2015!

Here we go again, another yearly round-up (I’ve been doing these since 2008 you can see the previous ones: 2008,20092010, 20112012, 2013 & 2014). This has been the best year of my life despite the nutty things that happened. Unfortunately, we did lose my 2nd grandfather this year—RIP daddy sparrow—I really wish that time allowed me to see him another time before he had passed.

I went back to Facebook to find some of these that I forgot, you guys wonder why I post so much—it’s because I have a terrible memory.

ThankYouI made 30 this year and before I post the infographic this is the group that I want to thank (in no particular order): Emily, Dee, Steph M., Gardenia, Jessica, Lee, Gee, Beth-Ann, Lynda, Julian, Larry, Daniil, Arthur, Frank A, Frank F, Miguel, Ronald, José, Lauren, Jacri, Jackson, Joy, Mark, Martha, Richard, Joycelyn, Kentom, Skyler, James, Delia, Carl, Janel, Nkoli, Angie, Christine, Hilary, Arlene, Vlad, Ryan, Stalina, Jerlie Beanz, Corey, Chemda, Justin, Elaine, Christian and everyone else who taught this was a super great idea and just wanted to be a part of it!

I did a trip this year #thebig30bdaytrip and you guys sponsored me to go to the airport, choose a country out of 3 and book a flight. I left immediately and landed in Antigua. That trip made me realize how fucking blessed I was for having people (even just followers from my Instagram!) in my life that cared about me. It also made turning 30 so memorable. I also decided to pay it forward continually, as long as I am able.

usquit a job after 3 years where I remained stagnant in my career. I started a new job and then closed the year realizing that I’m a much better freelancer. I went back to “school” and started working on my own company. I ran 4 marathons, 4 ultramarathons (with 50 being the furthest), I finally ran a marathon faster than I expected and did my first triathlon. I also finally met the ONLY guy I’ve dated who has made me feel the most comfortable about being myself and has been the most supportive (YES! A RUNNER, HALF IRONMAN & WORKOUT PARTNER! I love him so much). Hopefully I’ll get to write about him one day.

I really hope that 2016 will continue to give me great adventures. I was very blessed this year despite the things occurring around the world. Thank you! Here’s what I was able to create to document my year—of course more happened but only had time for this!

Bye2015

No one gives a damn if you don’t change your profile photo to blue white and red

ProfileHopefully my point is made in that statement. I changed my profile to the Tricolore.

What was probably meant to be a heightened awareness on social media turned into a backlash in the past few days after what occurred in Paris. When I read a status in opposition I quickly responded to it thinking that it was just said without tact.

It was a relative of mine who lives in the UK and I wanted to explain why it might seem like more people on her feed seemed to care about France than other countries with recent turmoil. However, I didn’t realize more people shared her misguided opinion.

I explained that France was one of the United States oldest allies and there certainly had a huge population of French citizens all over the world. Not only that, Paris is a pretty popular location—even I had the chance to visit. However, even if I hadn’t been there, I would have changed my profile, it’s my choice. I pointed out that recently our country of birth, Dominica had been affected by a hurricane. It hadn’t made as much news as France did because of our numbers. There’s just not that many of us in the world who are from there, or people who know of us. However, my timeline is filled with our past peers. That’s how we work—by numbers.

The article that made me write this entry can be found here.

First, let me state what changing my profile means to me because it seems like the author shed light on this—that the people should know why they are changing their profiles. It never even crossed my mind that changing my profile was meant to be questioned. We all changed our profiles to stand in solidarity. It baffles me that this isn’t blatantly obvious.

It’s likened to saying: “my condolences,” “I didn’t know each of the deceased but we feel for you.” “It sucks what happened.” “We experienced 9/11 we know you’re going through a tough time.” “We stand with you.” “This could have been us.” “We are all changing our profile in awareness if people haven’t already heard.”

I’m sure there are other reasons but I’m assuming that they all fall within those thoughts. I don’t understand why these people are trying to take away from the tragedy by making it seem like France deserved it. And, that is my point.

When a friend of mine shared the article on his profile I commented by pointing out that clearly the author needed to write something controversial for hits (and I’m helping) because there is absolutely nothing profound about taking a negative stance on this. It’s nerve-racking the opinions people will have just to make it in the news. So, it wasn’t a surprise when I saw an article about the profile changing backlash. We could have kept only the victims and our countries pursuit of the terrorists as a forefront, but no, social media has to have a hissy-fit about us not doing enough.

Really, you want to do something more than change your profile? No one is stopping you! Go do it!

Social media gives all sorts of tactless and insensitive people the platform to voice nonsense. All the points established about other countries that Facebook didn’t make a profile changing app for… You guys do know it’s an app right? Go create it! If you cared so much about Lebanon and Russia and the other countries you mentioned, why haven’t you voiced that prior? Is it somewhere on your feeds history?

I posted my opinion once I realized that more than one person changed the terrorist attack to France’s support of slavery, Haiti and a mention of African countries I finally had enough. Then, suddenly there were attacks. Ok, people are assuming this is much more than solidarity. However, why hadn’t I seen posts on their timeline earlier about this. Is this a huge fuck you to France?

I decided to hide my initial post (on the left) when finally a peer wrote a novel about I should take back my statement about France being one of the US oldest ally. I think he misunderstood what I meant, which is normal when people are passionate about things but choose to speed read and not understand people’s point. I have freedom to choose to do what I need to do with my post. I certainly didn’t want to waste my time arguing with someone who I foresaw as much more intelligent than me and explain to him how to be sensitive without getting a history lesson.

Then I reminded myself: this is why my entries have been more about running than that of politics, religion and sexuality. 

Everything controversial I avoid. It’s no one else’s opinion because I’m getting older and more conservative in my mindset. Conservative in the perspective that making the choice to change my profile photo does not affect anyone in a negative way. However, if someone thinks you showing your support is wrong, they clearly don’t have much else going on in their day—perhaps?

I received a direct message from a peer who I wasn’t sure wanted to be linked. He agreed with me. He placed everyone in three groups:

  1. The people who show their humane sign and illustrates some form of solidarity be it through their profile pics, pray for Paris, etc. (this is where he and I fit in)
  2. The “What about Kenya? Paris has enslaved Haitians, etc.” (there were posts about these but I think they also felt a profile change was warranted)
  3. Gun lovers who feel that arming every American with guns will solve the problem and blames Obama during their rants. (This makes absolutely no sense).

Furthermore he went on to say, “what’s disturbing to me, especially when it comes to African Americans (sic), is we’re so misinformed about information that it’s easy for them to repost something without doing some actual research. Bringing up history doesn’t resolve any issues that occurs today. Some of them didn’t stop to think that there are black people in France and the tragedy affected them as well. In one instance a man’s cellphone saved his life from a bullet and he was black! 

I just fear sometimes that our signs of solidarity is being confused and labeled trendy. Having a different opinion makes you “anti-whatever” and the ignorance level has risen to a new level. We’re slowly losing our well-being and it’s sad to watch at times. But I just wanted to take the time to say I identify with what you said. I find the best solution when I see something I completely disagree with on Facebook these days is to keep scrolling!

On the friend’s whose profile shared the article stated human behavior:

It’s really interesting that the post reads she does not need to broadcast to the world her support or solidarity however she did so in writing the post. Psychologically as a group called humanity come together to support others who have been affected by tragedy. If we go back to 9/11 and everyone had the American flag in their homes, cars on buildings is a way to feel united. Being united gives humanity a sense of well-being to see that other’s feel as they do. This is psychology 101. However back to the post that I just read why comment on it at all I would never judge or post if a person does not choose to have the overlay on the photo. And as far as action how does she know that others have not took action? Silly girl you have a lot to learn about human nature.

Succinct.

Even with all this though, I can’t give up hope on humanity. I do hope we’ll learn to live peacefully one day. In the meantime, just accept everything for what it is. You don’t care about Paris so you didn’t change your profile picture. Slavery has nothing to do with us standing with France. Bring Back Our Girls, Beruit, Russia all these places got media coverage. If it didn’t, find better media sources! It’s perfectly ok for you to change your profile in solidarity, or not.

 

My life is headed in any direction—TCS NYC Marathon Take 2

MedalLoveI ran the New York City Marathon last year (if you ran, or read my recap, you remembered how miserable it was despite loving that I was running in NYC). I really didn’t want to attempt to race it again. Everything hurt back then, the course was awful. I regretted not stopping to hi-five the kids in Brooklyn.

It was my 5th official marathon distance and this time around, it was my 9th official (not counting training runs).

nineAlso, as if covering over 7 marathon distances wasn’t enough in 2014, this year, I uped it to a couple more… 9+ ultra distances which included Disney Marathon that I ran with a good friend (Delvin), 50K around Manhattan with Sky, 2 marathon training runs, 33 mile RAGNAR ultra, North Face Endurance Challenge 50-miler, Revel Rockies in Colorado, Marine Corps Marathon and finally, New York City. I also did my very first triathlon in the summer and registered for some random distances throughout the year, even winning top spots in my age group and first place female in our infamous beermile. What an encore—if I don’t signup for the 60K. I’ve got a problem.

Weekend of activities

Like last year, I represented my gorgeous country of birth, the Commonwealth of Dominica, again at the TCS New York City Marathon Opening Ceremony. I made my outfit again! This was one of the highlights of my year because I’m very proud of my background.

It was once again creole weekend leading up to Dominica’s own Independence Day on the island so seeing posts of madras on my facebook timeline just made me feel like I was celebrating with the country itself. I tried telling my grandmother and family members about the event but I don’t really think they understood the entire ordeal and how important it was haha.

Leading up to this day:

HandstandjadeI had quite the year, which I hope to write in my yearly wrap up. However, I had ran a marathon only the Sunday before and I honestly didn’t know what to anticipate for this one. Yes, I ran two marathons a week apart. I was in my very own headspace because I had lost my job some weeks prior and thankfully I am with someone who is super supportive of my goals because I was no longer certain whether I was going crazy by signing up for the two marathons or was I really just giving myself a challenge. I am convinced that it was the latter. I had some random crazy battles happening in my life as well and I was calming taking care of them. Running powered me through.

Race outfit“… and no matter what happens, be sure to enjoy the race.” –Jo Ann.

That was the first thought I had when I got to the start that morning. My intention had been to dress up (since I missed out on Halloween) like Michonne from the Walking Dead but when I saw the temperature, I felt better about my lack of prep. I decided to take my New Balance 890s V4 on their final race journey (they are falling apart since they were my favourite—I’m not purchasing new running shoes until I get a “real” job) and I color coordinated even with some fun sun glasses that I had from the Pride Run.

I had no idea what was going to happen but I knew that no matter what, I’m just going to laugh my ass off—even if I walked and just run happy.

Commuting that morning

Unlike last year’s commute to the start thanks to AirBnb, I got on the 2nd ferry—I missed the first one because of the train. I found out later that my boyfriend had been on the same one. I knew how important this marathon was to him because he only does one per year so we didn’t coordinate to meet. He doesn’t carry his phone on race day so there was no way for us to know.

I wore my space blanket from the marathon last year (I kept it—keeping this year’s also) and I brought an old towel and blanket just in case.

I chatted briefly with a few runners on the ferry to Staten Island and another woman (Miya), who BQed later that day, sat next to me on the bus that took us to the start village. We said our goodbyes when I took off to find my corral after going through security.

Seriously, how many times do I have to go potty?

Thankfully after grabbing some coffee I ran into some familiar faces (like Yenory who was running NYC for the 1st time) and we chatted abit. That helped me take the edge off and I made my way to the start with Eric (Ultrarunning friend) from the Trail Whippass. We decided to use the port-a-potties prior and made our way into the corrals 10 minutes before they closed. We had very different corrals.  I immediately lined up again in my corral to use another port-a-potty while downing my Generation UCan. I don’t know why but for some reason, I get nervous pees at these important races.

It’s go time!

Finally doing my business left me with less than 10 minutes before we were supposed to take off. We were able to make our way through the gates when they took down the ropes but I realized there were pace groups for 3:05 in my corral. I became frantic. How did I get here? Am I in the right corral? I felt at ease when I briefly saw something close to 3:30. Sure, I’ve been training at 7:50s for marathon pace and I assumed I would have ran at least a 3:25 at the beginning of the year but right now, NOT after another marathon a week from when I ran a 3:54 (with a bathroom break)—no where close to 3:25! I had made up my mind to run by feel—and feel it would be. I looked around calming myself down and got amused by all the men urinating on the buses that were dividing the corrals. One of the bus drivers tried, with no avail, to get the men to stop whipping out. I shook my head in amusement and realized I probably would have done the same also—however, I just hoped I wouldn’t have to pee in the middle of the race again like I had at Marine Corps Marathon.

I ran happy

Photo by Jason Pacheco
Photo by Jason Pacheco

The view at the beginning for me was much different. Last year, I ran beneath the bridge and thankfully this year I got to see the view from above. I took it all in, and very slowly. I remembered from the Marathon Preview Panel we had for my team that Simon told us to take it slowly and stay in the middle because people would be trying to exert themselves by passing each other. I went “sexy pace” and pretended that I was warming up and ran it in 9:16. Clearly I didn’t know what would happen so I just checked with my legs constantly to make sure they were doing ok. I had no idea if they were recovered already.

A FRNY running teammate chat with me a bit because he liked my gear. He seemed on the mission to finish so I waved him on and told him don’t worry about the bridge being so crowded. It would clear up. He took off as soon as it opened and I decided to speed up a bit since we were going to into mile 2. I was familiar with the downhills so 7:57 pace felt really comfortable. I could hang here, I decided. If I felt anything, I would stop. I was still treating the first 5 miles as warmup but the warmup just felt so good.

When I looked at Garmin Connect, I realized the upcoming miles were basically sub 8s except 3 & 11 which were around 8:02/8:03. I still didn’t think it was that bad. I wasn’t looking at my watch. Later, I realized I could have potentially BQed if I had planned better but that actually wasn’t the goal that day. It was perfect conditions! I wanted to be uninjured and do a possible PR at the end of the race. Besides, I had taped 3:45 on my wrist and not 3:30.

Staying focused

Someone at the back of me called out, “Hey, I follow you on Instagram!” I looked around and saw a familiar face. My boyfriend. WHAT was he doing here? I said, “Aren’t you supposed to be ahead of me?!”

Photo by Luciano Rezende
Photo by Luciano Rezende

The funny thing is, I wasn’t thinking of him during the race because I figured he would be way ahead. My goal was to hopefully make it at a decent time to contact him when he was done before he headed home (we had our separate after marathon plans). A few days prior we both agreed to run our own races and I had said whatever I needed to say to him before this race. Don’t get me wrong, I sort of wish we had decided to run this one together. 

He mentioned that his corral was packed with runners who weren’t supposed to be lined up there. I felt terrible for him because he was looking forward to this race all year. We wished each other luck and we’d call each other.

I continued on seeing some familiar faces and pacing along some fellow whippets. I tried feeding off their energy for a few miles but I really didn’t know how long I would have lasted. By mile 15, I knew I would get into my head.

If you start walking now, you’re going to keep walking.” I need to have more positive thoughts! This is when I wish I had my iPod.

It happened. I walked on the bridge. I knew it would keep happening. I got back into my brain and shook it off. I didn’t have a real goal anyway! F’ck it, let me just get over this boring section of the course! So, mile 15 and 16 (8:32 and 9:25) suffered with lots of walking.

Then miles 17-19 I was back! There were people! I took some Gu since I figured the fuel from the Ucan was done by now and suffered through the mileage. I knew that I was slowing down again. I kept alternating with Gatorade and Water because I was sweating profusely. As I was running up 1st avenue, my boyfriend’s mother and sister called out to cheer! It was great to see them! I also wondered why they were still area (maybe they were tracking me also or were watching other runners as well)  I hope that they were just spectating because I hadn’t seen him along the course. I actually told people not to track me haha since I thought I’d be walking the entire thing

Photo by Ben Ko
Photo by Ben Ko

The sun had started to come out (and I hate the heat) and I was beginning to feel it. I was beginning to annoy myself also. I somehow got something stuck in my shoe and I kept hitting my shoe on grooves to remove it. I was worried about twisting my ankle. I kept thinking that my feet would get damaged if I don’t get that object from under my shoe. I wasn’t sore, I wasn’t tired, I was annoyed. This was a new experience at a marathon ever.

It finally came off, and I have no idea what it was but 20-23 were ran closer to 9 minutes for NO REASON but lots of walking. I remembered last week when I suffered on Marine Corps Course because of the emotional battles within myself. I pushed through there, I might as well now!

Photo by Thomas Yong Hwan
Photo by Thomas Yong Hwan

I met another whippet who was struggling. We decided to be each other’s run/walk buddies for a bit. I felt bad because I had to leave her and continue on. I hate seeing suffering through marathons! Even worse being teammates! Regardless, this is still a race and I intended to do my best even if I’m in mediocre shape—I knew she understood. I refocused to thinking that I was still having a good time. 24 was the slowest I did walk on that hill. I met Ray on there who ran to take my photo. It was great to see him!

Photo by Ray Schwartz
Photo by Ray Schwartz

I looked at my Garmin finally. When I realized I could pick it up and actually PR it was too late. I basically walked away a BQ!

I entered the park to make up some time. I was familiar with Cat Hill so going down would be easy. I heard one of the coaches calling out to me and I waved. I heard some others but weren’t sure who they were! Later I realized it was actually my boyfriend’s mother and sister again! They snapped a photo and I looked really strong when I got into the park! I felt strong!

However, I HATE going out of the park and reentering to end this race. I started walking again! A woman passed by and said, “Hey you’re wearing fast shoes!” I looked down at hers, she was wearing the same one I had! The New Balance 890s V4!

“Thank you!” I started jogging. I had gotten into my head again thinking “What if I run the same time again?” I ran 3 marathons, different courses, at the same damn time. I needed to get out of my 3:47/3:48 rot.

I did. 3:43—my best time. Well, it’s a great PR from last week… 11 minutes faster running a marathon a week apart and almost 5 minutes better than last year’s NYC marathon.

Happinesssssss

12208739_10101505812591535_1890836645623624556_nFor all that I’ve been through in these past weeks and months. This experience was needed. I needed something bright. I needed to feel like I overcame something. I’m certainly running from something. The marathon is filled with so many contradictions! What a rollercoaster of emotions I went through!

I’m really fortunate right now despite some setbacks in the past few weeks. I’m not signed up for any races for a while (because I have to find a job—or jobs—since I’m freelancing).

So, I’ll keep everyone posted. I’m focused on shorter—although that 60K is damn tempting.

I have a great support group of family and friends—along with a fantastic man who has made this journey bearable. By the way, I beat my boyfriend’s time unintentionally (he told me he owes me flowers). Apparently, while I had a great race, many others didn’t—but the marathon is like that. According to his mother, no runner is ever happy with their time.

Thanks so much for the final photo Wamsi! Also grateful to have received my medal from a fellow whippet. What a great way to end this race!

You’ve officially followed me to marathons 8 & 9!

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 12.59.59 AM