Friday, June 29, 2007

Yeah... about that

Remember how I was SO grateful here because of this whole slew of reasons and I wasn't going to let myself get upset about the teeny tiny fact that I didn't win a trip to Mexico?

Well, that is all still true. I did not win a trip to Mexico.

The next best thing, however, is when your best friend wins a trip to Mexico.

Don't worry, I don't believe it either.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Almost Poetry

We spoke of sun and sand and sea
Of trying to find purpose and life and honesty

He said he liked beaches and mountains and rum
Didn't understand those who didn't like fun

I said my two favorite things were flip flops and freedom
He agreed, I could barely believe him

He said he loved family and together and friends
I loved hearing that so much I wanted to dance

We laughed and mused well into the night
Shared made-up fantasies of catching the next flight

He believed in hard work, always knew it would pay
I nodded my head so much he asked if I was okay

He told jokes and grinned, turns out he wasn't so shy
I couldn't tell if he was nervous, I laughed until I cried

It all seemed so perfect, no keeping score
And it could have worked out, if he wasn't seventy-four

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Whole Mess of Gratitude

Sometimes I realize how lucky I am and it stops me in my tracks. I'm on the way down the hall to fill up my water bottle at the drinking fountain and I get half way there and I just have to stop because I'm nearly consumed by the thought of just how good I have it.

I am still high from all the feelings of the relay experience. I just can't believe the way twelve people can come together and accomplish something with such strength and humor and spirit. And it doesn't just stop there, I have a wonderful family, too. A family who watches my dog while I'm away and waters my flowers and brings in the mail. I wouldn't be able to have half the freedom I do without the foundation they provide. And a grandmother who turns eighty-one this week. Eighty-one! I'm just amazed by her, and her stories and wisdom. I'm so thankful she's healthy and here to share with me.

And I have friends, near and far. Running friends, school friends, and yes, even blogging friends. I do consider that a friendship, you know. We learn together, laugh together, share some good times and some crap times. That's got to be one definition of friendship and don't let anyone tell you it's not.

Things like this are so easy to overlook if we aren't careful. We can be so driven to what's next that we forget to take stock in what's right now. I don't want to forget that. I don't want to be the girl that's so upset she didn't win a trip to Mexico on the radio this morning that she forgets she has plans every night this week with friends and is going to sing [badly] at the top of her lungs at a concert on Saturday. And I am so definitely not that girl because do you know how long it's been since I've gone to a concert? At least three months and that, my friend, is far too long.

There have been some bad times lately. Some disappointing people, some crud so deep even your tallest boots would fail you but you know, today is just one of those days where it's not front row. Yeah, those troubles are out there, looming somewhere. But all I've got to do is let them be, let them stay out there in the back for the moment. You see, there are these bright, blazing lights shining up front here and for now, that's all I need.

Maybe it's just a life full of plans or having just come off a great running experience but my gosh, I have some good stuff and good people in my life and I'm just so incredibly grateful I can barely stand it.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Don't let my lack of articulation fool you, this thing was incredible

The relay was, in short, awesome. As a runner, the chance to participate in a true team effort does not come around often. If there were any words describe how truly remarkable it is to live in a van for over twenty-four hours with five other people and come out of it saying you'd turn around tomorrow and do it all over again I don't know them. It is impossible to capture all the moments of hilarity, support and spirit.

I was really lucky to be in a van with five positive, selfless people. I believe that must be the key to a good relay experience. If you have people that aren't willing to put their own pain or exhaustion aside for the moment, you'd have a very difficult time.

My team, and so many others I encountered along the way, were fantastic. The first legs of this race were unbelievably hot. The desert-like heat was somewhat uncharacteristic for the Utah mountains. When I ran my first leg on Friday morning, it was already ninety degrees (F). Temperatures would later rise above 100 degrees (F) into the afternoon. It was incredibly draining and I thought if this is how I'm starting out, barely unsure if I'd be able to complete 6 miles in that heat, how are the rest of the legs going to go? If a block of ice in my hand didn't even feel cold, what were the teammates following me going to do? At one point, a kid standing at the end of a driveway with a hose sprayed me right in the face and it felt so good I just stopped and stood there, letting him spray me. I was soaked but dry in less than four minutes. Hot, people. Very, very hot.

Surprisingly, once the temps cooled down, I was a new woman. The pace picked up and I felt that I could actually run again. I was certain that second leg would be my best of the relay. My third leg was run at sunrise the next morning. I'm not going to lie, it was tough. I was spent after that third leg. But it, too, minus the heat, was fantastic. As hard as I worked, as tough as it all was, this relay made me feel like a runner again. I wasn't worried about injury or time, I just went out there and ran. It felt good to push myself and even though I thought there was no way I'd complete the third leg without walking, I not only ran the entire thing but kept my pace about a minute below what was projected. I could not be happier.

Largely, though, the running in this relay was almost secondary. It was the team that pulled me through, I have no doubt. The support, the encouragement, the inside jokes in the van, those all got me through. A moment didn't pass where we weren't laughing about something and with sleep deprivation looming larger with each passing hour, everything became even more hilarious.

I'm lacking both sleep and sufficient words right now to communicate how special this event was. Simply put, I'm so thankful to have been a part of it, I can't wait to do it all over again and, in my opinion, any runner not willing to try one of these some day is missing out.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Living Anyway

At it again. There are roads to drive, roads to run. I’m off to do the relay thing. It’s brand new to me, I really don't know what to expect. I’m doing it anyway.

I haven’t conveyed my anxiety about this event to anyone. There are a couple of reasons but perhaps the most important is I’m just not properly trained for it. In my mind I’m not, anyway. If you look at either of the training schedules and then compared them to my log, it is, in a word, frightening.

The race organizers encourage diligent training for this. From what I hear of my team and dozens of others, many choose not to follow the plan anyway. This does not make me feel any better. The plan has you running two or three-a-days (I have done a few), doing speed work (does not compute) and running hills (which I’d like to avoid but here in mountain land, I fortunately cannot).

I have not been running this way.

I have been running for fun. I have been running for stress relief. I have been running to get the travel weight off and the sun on my face. I have not been wearing a watch. I have been running just enough to not piss off my knees. People around me are very disapproving of this. They think I am crazy or "asking for it" by running. I am running anyway.

(Sidebar: These are the same people, however, that send me ridiculous email "surveys" that I never answer because they ask questions like: If you died and were trapped in a bubble and could see no one for the rest of eternity, what three things would you take with you? And then they get upset when instead of saying photos of my family or inspirational novels I respond with beer, birthday cake and Jimmy Buffett. I just don't think about being trapped in a bubble of the afterlife. I prefer to think about life.)

My doctor, the ever-wise, blue-eyed comedian that he is, says running cannot make my knees worse. It is up to my discretion and my pain tolerance, at this point. That’s sort of like putting me behind the counter at an ice cream shop and telling me it is up to me what to do with the ice cream that day. Does he not know me at all? I have permission, I CANNOT CONTROL WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.

There’s another side to this, though. It’s the me side. The side that cannot wait to get on the road for 500 miles just to complete 178 more with my team. A team of men and women of all ages, from all over, of all different abilities. The fun, the running, the work, the up all night, the celebration, the smell of the van after fifteen hours or more. I cannot wait.

So there might be a little pain. So I might be slower than I’d like. So I might stink. Might. Might. Might. If I can’t make it any worse by running, then I’m going to go ahead and make everything else better.

I won’t live in the might, I’ll just live anyway.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


"If Jon Stewart were here, what would you say then?"

"Why do you always refer to celebrities by their first and last name?"

"Don't change the subject."

"No really. Just say Jon, I know who you mean."

"You can't just say Jon like you're talking about your neighbor or something."

"But what if he was your neighbor?"

"Well I wouldn't just say Jon then, either."


"Because I'd prefer to use the term Secret Boyfriend."

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Just Like That

I was just sitting here, and like a flash flood this memory just came to mind. It's late Autumn, almost Winter. The snow is falling outside and hundreds of people are crowded into my high school gym for a basketball game against our biggest rival.

It's hotter than July in that place. You're having so much fun you can barely stand it. The bleachers are rocking. The anticipation might kill you right there. As the clock ticks down, the volume goes up. You can't even hear the ref's whistle, it's so loud.

"Warm up the bus! Warm up the bus! Warm up the bus!"

We knew we were going to win.

Man, those were fun times.

Who knows where that came from. Basketball isn't really my thing. High school seems so long ago. But a memory like that, it's welcome any time.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

it is

It’s the place that took years to find and yet, the one place you have always known. It’s warm air, hot sand, crickets and tree frogs. It’s full of life and devoid of chaos. It’s tall palms, winding roads, open-air jeeps and warm rain.

It’s diversity, commonality, sugar cane and love. It’s open waters, full sails, dinghy docks and pirate tales. It’s early morning swimming, Mic’s too-spicy Bloody Marys and laughter floating across the waves. It’s wisdom from a legend who describes himself as just a man. It’s the boy who stopped to visit and never left, the girl who followed her heart and all the dreams caught in between.

It’s away from it all and close to your soul. It’s blackened shrimp at that table by the dumpster and drinks on the curb. It’s the sun on your face high on the hill and the rooster crowing at four in the afternoon. It’s a friend where a stranger once was, a sunrise only matched by it’s own sunset, slowing down and lying low.

It’s the secret you want to keep yet can’t help but share. It’s the beach where everything seems possible, where you seem so small. It’s peace, it’s hope and in so many ways, it’s just like home.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Hey, Good Lookin'

Woah, well, post about weight and some folks are just all about the emails. Even if it's your own weight, the people, they've got a lot to say.

Rest assured, I'm not starving myself.

I eat quite a bit. And often. With friends, with family, even alone. In fact, here lately, I've been cooking my little butt off. (Yes, all irony and puns intended. And then some.) I've also been inspired lately by this girl who not only has been creating some fantastic delights in her kitchen but also seems to share my affinity for recipe substitutions.

Maybe it's the simplicity of the cooking I do or the fact that I am not sure I've ever completely followed a recipe but I find it to be quite easy and generally find myself a lot more satisfied eating what I've cooked at home rather than something that was prepared in bulk in some kitchen. There are always exceptions, but it's also, generally, those places that one shouldn't go to while wearing the same clothes in which they just ran five miles. And my kitchen? We don't mind a little post-run stank around here.

Not totally following recipes, though, does give one an enormous amount of creative license. While I don't despise onions, I'm not entirely fond of them, either. So the other night, while making stir fry based on this recipe I decided onions? Yeah, not so much. Squash? Oh yeah, baby.

And you know, it fit in just fine with the broccoli and asparagus. I did add it toward the end of cooking, though, which turned out to be a great decision. Ironically, squash is not at it's best when it's, well, squashy.

Stir fry, as many probably know, is the perfect runner's meal. It's all the things you need in a meal and it all ends up in one bowl. And to those of you making your stir fry from frozen vegetables let me just say while I completely understand the time and convenience factors, try fresh anyway. You will be so impressed with yourself.
Oh yeah, and there's chicken in there, too. But I've got to say, for some reason I can't really put my finger on, taking pictures of meat that you're cooking or eating or anything else just seems weird. Maybe this is because I am not really a fan of preparing meat but I am a fan of eating it so I just get over the preparation and cooking portion. Does anyone else feel this way?

Another too-simple-for-words cooking adventure of late was influenced by my latest trip to the Caribbean. Where they have fish. Where I had fish. Where I had mahi, iron content be damned, every chance I could.
I found this recipe and got all excited because the salsa portion of the recipe totally reminded me of an absolutely fabulous mahi sandwich I had while sitting in a seaside restaurant over-looking the bay on the last full day of my visit. It was while enjoying that mahi that I listened to sailor jokes and became friends with a young boy that told me not only was he going to become a famous drummer one day but if I came to see him play, HE WOULD LET ME IN FOR FREE. I always knew my involuntary adoration of musicians was meant to be.
What was not meant to be was the mahi. Trying to find good mahi in Colorado is like trying to find Rocky Mountain Oysters in the islands. I settled for tilapia. It was a very acceptable compromise.
The recipe, though, and it's fabulous salsa, called for onions. And I had every intention of using the red onion I just knew I'd bought. But when I opened the fridge, alas, there was no red onion. I was so sure I'd bought it. Who knew my onion aversion was so deep.
Instead, I decided a jalapeno and some roasted red peppers would have to do. And once again, they did.

I also added green peppers and later, the avocado. If nothing else, it was pretty.

And here again, I have no photo of the fish. I have a feeling, however, that it's less because of the I'm-creeped-out-by-photos-of-meat issue and more the once-food-is-in-front-of-me-I-must-eat-it issue.
The fish did need something other than salsa with it, though. I went with my all-time favorite side, sweet potato fries.

I have no idea if this is an "appropriate" culinary pairing but in my world, you can never go wrong with these. Never. Slice them, toss them in olive oil, sprinkle them with pepper or your favorite spice and sea salt, pop 'em in a 350 oven for 30-35 and that's it. They are always good and always remind me how much I love sea salt. Why the entire world isn't cooking with sea salt and no other sort of salt is beyond me.
No worries, internets, I do not starve myself to lose weight. In fact, when you're cooking like this, you're even more inspired to eat. You find yourself saying "oh, you know what would be good with this" or "next time, I'm going to add..." and before you know it, you have twenty more meals planned. For that evening.
Instead of asking yourself what's for dinner tonight, you just day dream about ingredients and spend your days searching for all the possible recipes that call for lime.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Let's not beat around the bush, this is a big long post about my weight

Attention: Sensitive Topic Alert. Alert meaning, yes this is my opinion and my experience and no way am I, girl who tripped over her own foot this morning, dumb enough to think that this topic is the same for everyone. Ye rest assured, I be not stupid.

I'll start a while back, because I can. I was a really active kid. I grew up outside, running and barefoot and on my bike. In the winter, we made snow angels and snowmen and snow forts and only came inside when we were soaked from the inside out and the outside in. I begged and begged my mother to stay outside even after the sun went down. I went outside first thing in the morning to swing, where I'd stay for hours. This carried into young adulthood. I was never graceful and never the super star of the team, but I was always doing something, always going. In high school, I'd put on maybe six or seven pounds over the winter and then the first nice day of Spring would come and, almost like magic, those extra few pounds were gone.

This was a similar pattern in college, too. In my later years of college I did forge quite the bond with Coors Light (mmmm, yeah, still takes me back today) and therefore, I just spent more time in the gym. It was all so easy then. And my body, so cooperative. I was never a size 2, oh no, my friend. But I was in good shape, entirely manageable and only the occasional fat day, really. I know, shut up, right. I say that now, too.

Then, college ended and real life began. With bills and schedules and someone to answer to. And a desk job. Though I've worked since I was a teenager, I have never had to just show up all day and SIT DOWN for most of eight hours (or ten, or twelve). I never realized what that, combined with age, changing metabolism and blah blah blah, could do to a person. Really, I did it but still, it was sneaky fat. In six months I'd gained about 15 pounds.

That's about when I started running. For a while, it got me back on track. I wasn't my college weight but I was close and by the time I was twenty-four, I'd sort of stabilized. I never really weighed myself after that. I couldn't be bothered. My pants fit, I was alright. Then, over the winter of 2005, I was handed some challenges by life. Looking back, I thought I dealt really well. I WORE OUT A BELT ON A TREADMILL, for crying out loud! And then, winter ended and in March 2006, I began to pack for an island vacation and found that I had only two pairs of shorts that fit. Out of about twenty. It freaked me out and body-wise, weight-wise, 2006 only went down from there.

I struggled all year, during running, during injury, everything. I made excuses, "it's hard to lose weight while marathon training" and "you can't run as much as you need to in order to maintain your weight, you're injured." They were true, but they were excuses. I know it's not rocket science, you have to burn what you're consuming. Even someone that hates math can add that up. Nonetheless, I didn't. I went up and down 5-10 pounds all year, but never really losing what I should have to be healthy and never really focusing long enough to figure out why. I ignored it. And in December of 2006, I ran my first marathon at a weight heavier than I've ever been. In my life. It's a myth, folks, that you have to be a waif to be a runner.

Then, the calendar turned to 2007. I avoided the lose weight resolution and was focused on repairing all my injuries. Knees, ITBs, hips. I went back to lifting twice per week. I was starting to feel good again. I could run a little, and when I wasn't running, I was on the elliptical machine (we became best friends). So I started weighing myself again. I'd get on the scale and see little to no change. I'd write on my blog about how I'd weigh myself after having toast for dinner. It was silly. (The weighing, not the toast. Toast is never silly.) Then, sometime, and I'd be lying if I said I knew the moment, I just asked myself "when did this become acceptable for you?"

And that was it. That was when I realized that yes, things with cheese on them and cake and ice cream were good, but that wasn't my problem. My problem was me. I'd somehow, over the course of four years and "adult" life and marathon training, I'd allowed my weight to become acceptable. I'm a realist, I will not ever weigh 115 pounds and wear a size two. What I do know is that I don't have to be where I am if I don't like it. It's strange, really, because my weight has never made me unhappy. Occasional fat days have always been my thing- I still made friends, got new jobs, ran races, had adventures of a lifetime, worked hard and fell in and out of love with everyone from a friend to the guy that does the weather on Channel 11. What it came down to was that it just wasn't right. It wasn't what I wanted for my life any longer.

I don't have control over so many things but this, this was all me. And I could do something about it, so I did. I am. It's every day.

Monday, June 11, 2007

No Fix

It's hard to see someone you love hurting. It's really, really hard when that someone is the person that so often has taken your hurt away. No matter what the pain, talking to her somehow made it better.

When you fell into the pool, because you've always been graceful like that, and scraped your entire leg, all you wanted was her. When you didn't get picked for the team (probably the lack of grace again) you just wanted to see her. To tell her. When your friends gossiped about you, when you tripped in the hall, when you got your heart broken, she was the only one you wanted to see.

This person, as if there were any question, is my mother. And she's hurting now. Because of life, because of love, because of death. And all I want to do is take it away. I want to reach inside her heart and mind and remove the memory for a while. I want to take the feelings and coat them with sugar so they might go down a little easier. I want to have answers.

You never really realize, until it stares you in the face, how your happiness can be wrapped up in those you love. How one person, in just their being and who they are can symbolize things in life that you've come to know. Things you've come to count on.

Now that I'm older, we have better conversations. Conversations that are deeper and more real. It is a blessing, but it is also a realization. I remember that feeling, I got it for the first time in college. It's when you realize your parents are just people. They know a lot, but not everything. They have passions and dreams and feelings, just like you. It's so odd, that feeling. Knowing that this person, when it comes down to it, is someone you love beyond even your own ability to understand but also, that they're real.

It's the real that I see right now. It's not because I think I can save her. It's not because I think she can't handle it. It's not some parent-child reversal. It's just my reaction. She's scraped her knee and me, well I can't find the right band-aid.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

If she's on a flight to Vegas tomorrow, it's not my fault

I babysat a four-year-old this weekend. She has life totally figured out.

Miss Independent (the four year old, not me, duh) : "I'm going to get married one day."

Me: "Oh, you are? When?"

Miss Independent: "I don't know, sometime before I'm too old."

Me: "Who are you going to marry?"

Miss Independent: "I don't know yet. I'm still trying to choose."

Me: "Oh really?"

Miss Independent: "Yeah. There's a lot to choose from you know?"

Me: "Really? Well, no rush. You have time to think about it. Those things take time to figure out."

Miss Independent: "Yeah, I know. I will have to decide. It will probably take me at least all weekend."

Thursday, June 07, 2007

And a good day to you, sir

"Do I have time to get some coffee before this meeting?"

"The coffee machine is gone."


"Why do you care? You don't even drink coffee."

"I do today, brother, I do today."

You know when you, a 27-year-old woman, start calling your coworkers 'brother' that it's an off day.

And today was a textbook off day. The kind of day where you feel like everyone is looking at you like you've forgotten to wear pants. But they're too nice to say anything so they just stare and think "thank God that's not me without pants." I was so off most the day that all thoughts popping into my head about what I need to write about and how it ought to just start spilling out but isn't were superseded by the thought that maybe I really had forgotten to wear pants.
So, instead of agonize over writing and thought organization and trying to come up with something with purpose or intent, I will just post some photos and call it good.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Home Improvement for the Illogical

Owing a house really is a satisfying thing. Walking through a door that you know is yours, that no one (save the bank that owns you and your life) can take it away from you, is a great feeling. Whether you bought it and moved right in, remodeled it or built it from the ground up, it's your space. Your life. And for a while, even after you've signed ninety thousand documents stating otherwise, you live in a sweet fantasy where you can hammer a nail into any wall you want and then paint the whole place purple if you so choose.

But like anything else, things change. The closets that you never imagined having enough "stuff" to fill are now bursting at the seams. The beautiful, soft carpet now has strategically placed rugs thanks to that time the dog got into the trash after Mexican food takeout night. And maybe, you'd also like a pantry.

So this is sort of where I am right now. I'm ready to move, maybe. Or maybe not, maybe just make some house changes. But that's a slippery slope, that house stuff. New paint leads to new floors leads to new throw pillows and on and on. The "Makeover a Room for $200" article you read is now lining the floor under the windowsill you had to paint because you replaced the window because as long as you're hanging plantation blinds, you might as well replace that old frame and, good heavens, you have spent your $200 and THEN SOME.

I have a few things on the list: painting, a couple new doors, and new flooring are at the top. Those all, of course, are cheaper than moving to a new place. But if I put new floors in, I want THE floors. I want the perfect hardwood floors that I can spend all day cleaning because they are so gorgeous. And the dog can spend all day tracking in mud and whatnot on them and it won't matter because it's "so easy to clean." And life will be grand.

I make all these logical excuses for this home improvement stuff. "The house will sell better some day" or "you'll love coming home to it." Yes, it's all true. In reality, none of this logic nonsense is my priority. Mostly, I'm into the change of the paint, the doors, and especially the floors. Because other than the ease of cleaning a nice, sealed, good-quality hardwood floor, I can also put on my boots, throw some hay on the floor and stomp out a line dance any time I want.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

No Need to Rush

It's a beautiful day. Eighty degrees, sunny, quiet but busy. Really just beautiful. The kind of day where your chai tea tastes perfect, you hit all green lights and everyone you encounter is in a good mood.

Except you.

You are going through a let-down, a salt water withdrawal. You download and upload your seven hundred photos in hopes of reliving the entire thing. You email with friends, reminisce about that sunset and that key lime pie, and somehow, try to catch up with reality.

You know it's right, this feeling. You know that there's an important balance between everyday work and your escape. It's just right now, you have a very skewed idea of what that balance is.

So today, merely the third day back in reality, I think I'll make mahi for dinner and key lime pie for dessert. I'm already back, there's no reason to rush the rest of it.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Carribbean Conversation

I think coming back from vacation is the closest we'll ever come to knowing what our own birth was like. There we were, all happy and warm and content and then, it's all gone. And we're shoved into (or back into) a world with cold air, loud people and responsibility.

Not that there was doubt beforehand, but the gods were on my side on this one. I had busy times, quiet times, times with friends and alone time. That was probably what I needed most, though I frequently have a hard time admitting it.

Everything I might have been worried about in the beginning was nothing more than a distant thought once I stepped off the plane. It's so easy, when you leave so much of your little world behind, to just be here. To just be in a place where there are no measures, no expectations and very few people to care who you are or what you're doing. Of course, there are those there to see and be seen. There are always those. But they don't take anything from you, from your experience.

The sailing was great, even with uncooperative wind.

"I don't know," said our Captain, "I think the mountains are calling me again."
"I understand," I told him. "Just remember, Doug, it gets cold up there."

A day on White Bay. Or was it two?
"How long were you there?"
"Just for the day."
"I think so... I'm pretty sure. You get sucked into some kind of Live Slow vortex over there."

Some time spent snorkeling... never a disappointment on St. John.
"Did you see the shark?"
"WHAT?! What shark?"
"Oh... ummm, nothing. Turtle. I meant turtle."

In come the waves, out go your cares.
"It is a known fact that all troubles and cares dissolve in sea water."
"All of them?"
"Yes, but as a Plan B, we have rum."

Palms growing any way they choose.
"This is supposedly the nude beach."
"Like all year round?"

What else would you rather see when you walked over a hill?
"Doing a head stand in salt water hurts."
" Honey, I think doing a head stand always hurts."

One of the billion photos I took of boats.
"One day, I promise, I will have my own boat down here."
"Cool, can I be your first mate?"
"Sure. But the first mate does all the work, you know?"
"Never mind. Who drinks all the rum? I want to be that guy."