Friday, September 28, 2007

A big week of little things

There's something not altogether right about how fast a week goes anymore. It was a good week, though I'm not sure it makes for much of a story. Aside from being noticed on my runs, there isn't a huge amount of news, per se.

I'm sure you don't want to hear about two of the many reasons I should not be allowed to go into Target. Or maybe you do? (Seriously, what is it with that place?) But yes, I will buy shoes at Target or Wal-mart or Bloomingdales if they called to me as much as those did.

Probably the biggest breakthrough of the week is something in school started "clicking" as they say. I went from holy crap I will never understand any of this to holy crap I get it and thank you, Heaven and Earth, there is some hope! And that's probably what I missed most about school, those moments when you can actually see yourself learning- you feel as if you're actually a witness to something. In this case, it felt like witnessing a miracle. Of course, if you'd have asked my college-aged self what I'd miss most about school a decade(ish) later, she would have said beer. Silly girl, she had no idea how twenty-almost-eight would feel.

Yeah, I'm turning twenty-eight soon. I have to say, it feels good. I can't say that I feel much different, and since I still find time to act like I'm twenty, I guess there's good reason for that. Can't very well say you're old when you're running around your childhood front yard in your bare feet with a one-year-old on your shoulders. Okay, fine, that's not the only way I act like I'm twenty. There is still a beer here and there, too.

Having always been sort of obsessed with balance, however, I can say I see more of my ability to appreciate it now. Or maybe it's just the fact that I've learned to accept some things more than I used to. Either way, that part does feel better. Which is good, because everything else seems to hurt just a little more than I ever remember it hurting before.

Okay, I'm all over the place so I'm going to stop. Enjoy your weekend.

Oh yeah, I'm going to cut my hair.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


In general, when we don't hear from someone, we may be tempted to think nothing is going on. No news is good news. The blog world teaches us differently, however. When someone is not offering up new posts, new bits and pieces of their life's musings, the opposite is often true. It's not that so little is going on (though this can certainly be the case) that there is a loss for interesting subject matter but more likely that there's so very much filling every day and every moment that it's nearly too much altogether.

Many of you are moving house, changing jobs, raising children, working, taking care of life, building things, going on new adventures and more, so I know you can identify. A couple days ago, for instance, I made a list of everything I need to do before October and not only was the list fifty-eight items long, I realized October? Well, that's next week. You understand, I know you do. And it would be one thing if everything on that list were as simple as comb hair but we know that just isn't so. There are much more demanding things to be done, like paint bathroom and talk to advisor at school . It's not often we have nothing to share, oh no; it's just finding a place to begin to share it is a task in itself.

Some things, though, just stand out. Some things happen and you just cannot help but share. I was running yesterday, about two miles from my house, and got my first "holla" of the year. "Holla," you ask? Well, yes. A "holla" is a name my running friends and I came up with years ago for when you're running down the street and someone, usually a man, yells something at you as he (or he and several others) drives by. It didn't have nearly the connotations then as it does now, but still it's an interesting phenomena, right? It's sort of strange that this is the first time it's happened this year but most of my running has been on trails, so I guess it's the law of averages.

And no, it's not one of those I Still Got It moments because, let me tell you, the holla is, by nature, not that attractive. I mean sure, when you're thirteen and you and your friends are walking down one side of the road and the group of boys/girls on the other side of the road start yelling something incoherent but clearly hilarious across that road, you are amused. This is surely some thirteen-year-old form of flirting and flattery. It may even be true as we get older, sixteen maybe? You're all driving for the first time, in your first car, and you want to get the attention of someone. You may yell out the window, I can understand this. I did this. But not any more.

Yesterday was a special one. I was running, from my house to meet my sister for a few miles and heard some loud music. Never a complaint from me, about that, of course. Well, apparently me looking toward said loud music was advance-like. Apparently, when you look toward a car with loud music, it means objectify me now because when this car turned the corner and drove by me, and it's passenger yelled "hey, baby" boy, did I feel hawt! I mean, that's awesome, right? A guy in his mid-forties, in the passenger side of an '89 minivan that, instead of rolling down the window, one must OPEN THE DOOR to yell something out to me as they drive by is down right sexy.

I'm glad it happened, though. What with the pace of life right now, what else would I have to talk about?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Wherein my heart rate is immeasurable

The best thing about the last forty-eight hours is that a homeless man made me do some speed work.

Here I just might as well say hi, I'm overwhelmed with work and school and running, though I need it, is getting on my nerves. For one thing, I'm still not running as "fast" as I'd like to be. I'm currently cruising along at around a 10:00 pace and while that's acceptable, I find myself thinking I can go faster. I just don't.

I also think I could run a little longer than I am, but for some reason I get out there and four miles feels like enough. My long run on the weekend is maybe six or seven. I have no reason to push it. Heck, I can barely fit it in. And (imagine I am talking to running here, not you) for that matter, I'm kind of annoyed that I have to run at all- I kind of want to say forget it and go take a nap. I mean, I want to run but then it's just there and it's this thing. Believe me when I say if it weren't for that pesky (read: necessary) weight control "issue" I'd probably just drop this crap altogether. At which point I'd probably have to go into therapy. Man! This is just not going to work, no matter how I argue.

But I guess the point is I'm running anyway. Yesterday I had to fit it in at lunch, which was welcome because I was having the sort of day in the office where people not only know you're too busy but warn other people to stay away for the sake of the greater good or something. Or maybe they're just being nice to the crazy girl.

I decided to take a different route so I wouldn't get bored (the mind games we play) and headed South from the office instead of North. I had my Garmin with me so I thought I'd just make up the route as I went along. About 1.5 miles into my 4, I crossed under a bridge. I was about 3/4 of the way through when I hear this raspy, yet loud, voice yell "go go go!" And then I peed my pants. Okay, I did not but it was dang near. Instead, I picked up the pace a LOT, looked over my shoulder and saw a scruffy, bearded, homeless man standing at the edge of the bridge waving the standard bottle-in-a-paper-bag arm and squinting in the sun. Also, no one else was around. It is not an exaggeration to say that I ran like hell, all the way back to my office.

That last mile was a solid 8:15. I hate speed work.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Somewhere between pressure cooker and all-out bonfire*

I suppose there is risk in everything. There is risk in liking, most definitely risk in loving and hopefully some kind of assuring risk in committing. There is risk in expression as much as there is risk in keeping your thoughts to yourself. And though I don't have a site meter and doubt there are more than a couple dozen people around here on any given day I sort of feel like I've had this blog long enough to understand the risk in having an opinion. An opinion on the Internet, that is.
I've had plenty of opinions prior to my blog experience, of course, but I'd venture to say this is it's own kind of special risk. Perhaps that's just my way of feeling good about what I write and how I share it, or because I love other blogs too much, but whenever there's a little bit of disagreement I wonder if I'm not getting scared. I mean, I want to share my opinions and I don't mind if no one agrees but I start to wonder if that's okay. I start to think about the chance of offending others.
I struggle between writing from my gut and writing in a way that will allow me to relate to my known readers. I mean, without naming names, how does one go about sharing life's details without offending anyone between the ages of twenty-three and fifty-something? How do you write if you're constantly thinking about what the college student, or the father of four or the wacky cyclist or the pastor or the One You Call Your Internet Mom are going to think? How do you even begin to be authentic? And I don't mean what those people are going to think of me personally, I just mean in general. While I'd say I pretty much do whatever I want, I do like to think I do things with intention. I believe we can be careful without being too self-conscious.
I'd also like to think I make an effort to think about what I say and how I say it. So when I write about the peace I feel floating in crystal clear water, it is really how I feel. And it is not just because I had a beer on the beach that day; though I can honestly say I feel like being able to experience moments where you feel at peace in your life and where you are, where you've chosen to be, are a blessing, even if they include a beer. There is nothing wrong with that.

I struggle a little about sharing some of my adventures and the experiences I'm able to have, fearing they'll come across as gloating. And though I've said many a time that a life well lived ought to be shared, the natural doubt that comes from so much good contributes it's share of guilt. I want to be sure that somehow, through sharing, I absorb the experience and the gratitude I feel in an otherwise impossible way. It is not just the experience itself that feeds me, but the perspective I get by possibly relating to another that makes it better. Richer.

The truth is, there are hard times in life. There's bad stuff in my life and your life and the life of the guy next door. There are things I don't like about myself, that's for sure. I try to work to make these things better, sometimes. For instance, I know I can become a better writer and photographer and maybe even a better runner. I know I can be a better friend to some and I know I can become better at knowing when to let things go.
I am learning. I keep telling myself I can learn to like créme brûlée, but that's probably not going to happen so I'm learning to be okay with liking mole (pronounced mo-lay, F.Y.I.) and finally building up enough of my oh-so-white-girl tolerance to handle food with some kick to it.

But you know what I think? I think we all know that. We know all about the hard stuff. We live it and deal with it every day. We all struggle with our choices and the demands in our lives and try not to lose our minds on those days when we have seventeen different things to do and, oh yes, they are all important.
So when it comes down to it, when I sit down to write a post and wonder to myself what is sitting in my mind's queue waiting to come out, I guess I don't think about the risk I might be taking as much as I'd thought. I try to aim to create something a little lighter, perhaps more interesting than the oatmeal I had for breakfast but less interesting than, say, politics. (Heh.)
I guess my point is, when I might be so lucky to have people read what I write and then have something to say about it, I'd rather it happen in a way that feels good. I'd rather enjoy the little bits and pieces of life we can be so quick to glaze over. I'd rather be serious yet still joke about ridiculous, silly things. It's a tricky balance and it's not always possible but I've tried it both ways and I think it's better this way. If it's true that there's a place for every one of us, and all our words, then let mine be the place where I can slow down, do my best to absorb everything that's good and most of all, share it with care but without worrying about the risk.
Coming to that conclusion here, in black and white, as they say, is a lot more refreshing than I imagined it could be.


* Alternately titled: No this is not just a sneaky way of posting more photos

Thursday, September 20, 2007

You can have cake either way

Yesterday I was sitting in class when a girl two rows over announced "in two more weeks, I will be twenty-one." I'll spare you the monologue about how hearing this made me feel old and so nostalgic I could almost smell the scent of a dorm room again and just say I was intrigued. I continued to listen as she described all the ways she planned to celebrate this milestone birthday including, of course, the almost obligatory "club hopping" night she and her friends were going to head out for on the weekend of her birthday. (Sidebar: Is it not okay to call this "bar hopping" anymore? Or even a pub crawl?) She proudly announced that, on the day following her umm, hopping excursion, she and her boyfriend were going to spend the day together.

"I told him there are three rules," she went on. "One, he has to make it all a surprise, two, it has to include cake and three, he cannot burp or fart or watch sports all day!"

While I wholeheartedly will agree with rule number two (because when is cake a bad idea?), I still cannot wrap my mind around this rule thing altogether. First, making rules? Um, high-maintenance much? Second, "he cannot burp or fart or watch sports all day?" Okay, is she trying to kill this guy?

I watched as two of her friends nodded along in agreement. "Awww, how sweet" was among the many phrases uttered. It was like they were saying yes, this is a good idea. Force the guy to do something, give him all kinds of conditions and expect nothing but perfection. This is true love. THIS IS REALITY.

I tried to think back to when I was twenty-one. There's no doubt there were things I did that I can look back on now and think my gosh, that was hugely stupid. Like the time the idea of a twelve-hour Checkers tournament fueled only by tortilla chips, Velveeta cheese and Arbor Mist seemed perfectly normal. Twenty-one is no doubt a great age to learn that the choices you make today, the beliefs you're tooling along with so happily can all come to a screeching halt tomorrow when you wake up and realize cheap cheese* ["product"] and even cheaper wine are getting you a whole lot more than you'd predicted. In other words, you learn to think ahead. And you learn to detect what's right and wrong for you, and what's real. Perhaps you even realize it's a choice.

I think that's what, at twenty-one, most of us don't realize about love and adult relationships in general. Rules are not always going to apply. There is going to be imperfection and unpredictability, and heaven knows there is going to be burping and farting. I'm thankful I realize this. I don't know what age it happened and while there is some charm in the fantasy, I'd rather choose the reality.

Later yesterday, while I was Interneting instead of homeworking, I read a short blurb from an interview in Essence magazine with Duane Martin and Tisha Campbell. In this portion of the interview, they were asked by the interviewer to defend recent divorce rumors.

Interviewer: So for the record, are you getting a divorce?

Tisha: Hell no!

Duane: Listen, let me tell you something. I will chew her ass up and swallow it before I let someone else have her.

For some reason I like that approach more.


*Okay, so I sort of still like cheap cheese.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Because I spend most days talking like a pirate anyway

Update: Someone sent me this earlier, too. I work with tech people who want to be pirates, which is totally understandable.

It's true, my friend. Today is International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Which means, of course, all ye proper grammar ought be forgotten, matey.

And while we're at it, let's go ahead and not take anything else too seriously, either. Last night, when I got home, I went about my regular routine of dropping everything in my arms in the doorway and going to let the dog out. I noticed I was in a particularly cheerful mood, which is something that tends to stand out after twelve hours at work. Generally, 12 hours at work makes me seem more like a zombie than a peppy local morning talk show host. Obviously, when I'm talking to the dog in Spanish and singing her "Dinner Song" to her (what? Doesn't everyone do this?) it is going to be a good night.

I sat down to check my email and the first one I opened was from a friend that reminded me to not forget that "all day tomorrow [today] you are from ARRRRGGGGHHHHKANSAS!"


But if I'm going to be from Arkansas and talk like a pirate, it probably wouldn't be a bad idea to drink like one, too.

Now mind the helm, me hearty!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sometimes More Than Others

On my recent trip to Mexico, we signed up for one of those guided tours. Not the kind where they stamp your hand and shuffle you through like cattle but certainly the kind that you take when you're in a foreign country and you want to go through the jungle without getting eaten by jungle creatures, lost, or worse, be out so late you miss the Red Sox game.

Through some streak of luck, reservation confusion and the magic that is "Mexican Time" (which is just like Island Time for any who may be more familiar with that concept; believe me when I say EXACT SAME THING), we ended up on a smaller, later starting tour with only four other people. And our guide, who was this hilarious self-proclaimed Mexican-American who immediately made you feel that even if you hadn't ever been to camp as a kid and had the "cool counselor" that the next six hours were going to totally make up for anything you might have missed. "I have a Mexican girlfriend now," he said, "I had a Dominican girlfriend before. And all that means is now instead of everyone getting their ass kicked, it's now just me." This is how the day started.

As we went on our hiking/biking/snorkeling/zip lining adventure, each activity became more fun than the last. Also, being in a very small group, we had a ton of time for a lot of "extras" that wouldn't otherwise occur. At one point our group was having a really hard time deciding if we wanted to eat, float in a cenote or drink beer first. "Float, eat, drink," I told our guide. "Dang, are you single," he asked, though it was more of a statement than a question. All I could say was "let's not go there." Sure, a little retro but I was serious. We did not need to go there.

Which sort of brings me to my point, the point of all this. There was a moment, when I stood at the top of a tower that was something like a billion feet in the air, looked at the three hundred sixty degrees of jungle canopy around us, took a deep breath and lifted my feet off the platform and felt, without any doubt, that there was no other place I would have rather been on Earth. Think about that for a minute; that feeling of knowing you are one hundred percent right where you think you ought to be. I didn't need anything else. I needed no one else around me. I wasn't anything but right there.

I felt a similar feeling when I walked in the door tonight. It's been drizzly and rainy all day. I'm still getting over this cold and the feeling that my head weighs sixteen pounds. I let the dog out, kicked off my shoes, and put on my slippers and a sweatshirt. I put the teapot on the stove and while I waited for the water to boil, I sat down at my table and looked out onto the patio and thought, this is good. It is good, like that zip line in Mexico. But with one difference, I really would have liked to have someone sitting at the table with me. At least once in a while.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

It's all good because the only cold that's here right now is mine

Over the weekend, the virus I've been "entertaining" finally kicked in. Honestly, it's really nothing more than a cold and it's not some foreign disease but rather something more common contracted from a sixteen-month-old child.

Aside from a slightly heavier-than-normal head and aforementioned child screaming into my ear just for fun, the weekend has been the September ideal you might always dream about. The house is clean, the laundry is finished, football has been watched, the dog was walked and pizza was eaten.

And the point of all this? Well, I think I am accepting that Fall is here. We will not utter the words "Summer is over" because that is entirely unnecessary. Rather, we will just say we like football and changing leaves and the Indian Summer-ish days that are upon us.

Mostly, I am loving it. Even when I'm seeing things through a cold-medicine haze, when you consider that the team won, there's word that my sister's husband is coming home from Iraq by Christmas, and there are beautiful things all around, it's not hazy at all. In fact, it's actually quite clear how good everything seems to be.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Shhhh, the birds aren't even awake yet

I went out for another 4:00 a.m. run this morning. As strange as it feels to type that, I have to say I really don't mind the early morning running. I'm the sort of person that will get up early and as long as I don't have to talk to anyone for a good hour or two, I'm fine. Some may even say cheerful, but they shouldn't. Because that would violate the no talking rule. And yes, you should know that rule.

I was thinking about this today, when I was running and breathing in the cooler Fall-like air. (No, I am still not prepared to be in full-on Fall. Yes, I know that's ridiculous. I don't care.) I listened to my feet hitting the pavement and thought about how I really do love that early morning time. It feels so private, like it belongs only to me. I have a few friends that run early, but with people. I do like running buddies but something about that time on my own just makes it better. No traffic, no beating sun, no exhaustion from the day yet. Just me and my half-asleep brain which, if you haven't noticed, is when it's at it's best. The brain is just better before it's awake and in full Analysis of Life and All It Contains mode. Like what you'd imagine a "normal" brain to be.

So back to my propensity for quiet in the morning- I love it. I guess I just need the time to stare down the barrel of a full day. When I was a teenager, still living at home, I used to wake up early to read the paper. Often, my mother would wake up and begin talking to me. This is normal for her in the morning. So there she'd be, having an entire conversation with me about the dentist and hockey practice and the dog and there I'd be, staring at her hard enough to generate enough will to cease her voice with my mind. It would usually take a good ten minutes for her to look at me and say "okay, we'll talk about this later." I'd nod and go back to my Cheerios.

I'm lucky that this was just my mother, who has been willing to let me be me my entire life. What am I supposed to do when someone doesn't get this? I think it's reasonable, but then again, it's my rule. And I don't have many rules. Be kind, be willing to learn, work hard and, for gosh sake, DO NOT EXPECT SERIOUS CONVERSATION FIRST THING IN THE MORNING.

I need to find a nicer way of saying that.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I left my brain on the plane

"You look like you're feeling sick."

"That's because I am."

"Yikes, I hope you didn't catch any exotic foreign disease."

"Ugh, don't even say that. I probably have the Ebonic Plague."


"You know, the Plague?"

"No. You either have Bubonic Plague or Ebola virus. You do not have Ebonic Plague."

"Oh wow, I'm an idiot. See, it's already affecting my brain."

Monday, September 10, 2007

Pieces of perfect

We stayed at this little darling hotel on the quiet end of town. We walked through the rainy streets with bags and no umbrellas to get there and if the warm colors and adobe spiral staircase weren't welcoming enough, the staff was. They knew our names from the moment we walked in the door and offered us everything from directions to umbrellas to comfort us. The manager, whom I nicknamed Pavarotti because he was singing when we walked in, helped me reacquaint myself with Spanish. It turns out I can find more than the beer and the bathrooms when I'm in Mexico*.

It was an interesting place to see the fusion of different cultures. It always amazes me how if you take the time to talk with people and make the effort, you'll get an amazing response. You go from feeling slightly lost and very out of practice to knowing that yes, even with the barriers of language and culture differences, you can make friends anywhere.

Like the young lady at a small bakery we stopped in for dessert one day. Though it was simply apple pie, there was something oddly magical about her teaching us to call it tartleta de manzana as we ate it and read magazines while Springsteen tunes floated out from the back room. It was a fantastic contrast that settled me. One step up, two steps back, indeed.

The sky also happened to stay in a constant state of bright blue, of which the thought only causes me great discomfort today. It is fifty-four degrees (F) in Colorado right now and I didn't see blue sky all day. Call it nature but I think it's Colorado's karmic way of getting back at me for pining after others.

Mexico, and likely any place if you'll let it sink in, is filled with detail. And just a couple steps away from the mainstream, you'll see this more and more. Little things people do and say that show an effort to be unique. An effort not only to stand out but to do it in a way no one else does. We should each be so lucky to have these efforts noticed. We should be so lucky to always try to make the effort at all.

I must admit, was not enough time. But when is it ever? I took an entire week off running (not to mention every other endeavor) and I have to say, for the first time in a while, I really miss it. I miss the open road and the air being stolen from my lungs. I miss the sweat and the way it clears my mind. Oddly, though I so badly believed I needed to be taken away, I missed my feet being on the ground. And if we know anything at all, we know it won't be long before I'm floating again anyway.

* See Me: 101, #70.
Last week's guessing game answer: C. I made it up. And if the above didn't make it obvious enough I will just explain by saying I think it would be nearly impossible for me to be friends with someone that so decidedly hated warm weather. There's just a certain basic level of understanding that must occur between friends.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Which one of these things doesn't belong here?

Having been out of my house for four days and preparing to be gone for five more, the fridge and cupboards are pretty unappealing. When my sister came by around dinner time last night, though I'd warned her I had nothing resembling a meal, she was shocked. I had a hard time convincing her we could create any sort of dinner from eggs, canned soup and rum.

If there was nothing left last night there was really going to be nothing today. I decided to stop by Starbucks, breakfast place of champions. While I waited for my order at 5:30 a.m., I started thinking about everything I'd need to catch up on today in order to leave tonight.

As is true with most of us hyperactive types, I started making a list. Part of this list was people I needed to catch up with. I know the thought of scheduling catch up phone calls or conversations with friends seems silly, but sometimes if I miss one call, it leads to weeks or even months of having no idea of a) where the time went and b) what they've been doing all that time.

Sadly, my efforts were really ineffective today. I am 0 for 3 on finding my friends. This is a little bit of a mystery to me, but I believe I am at least intuitive enough to guess where they might be.

Of the following four statements, three are actually very likely to be true. Which do you think is too impossible?

A) One friend has quit her job, filed for divorce and is now playing thirty-seven-year-old groupie and hanging with a very large concert tour because she and the main man have finally realized their true love for one another.

B) One friend has started yet a THIRD master's program in which he has decided last-minute to travel abroad and has absent-mindedly forgotten to tell about thirty of his closest friends, just like last time.

C) One friend has grown tired of any sort of hot weather and has decided to build a home near the Arctic. They are meeting with the builder this week and, therefore, are out of cell phone range.

D) One friend is holed-up in bed with a leg in a cast and since she is normally such a spaz she is very frustrated and angry about the whole mess and can't bring herself to answer the phone.

Come on, give it a go. I'll reveal the untrue statement when I get back.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Don't listen to me, I'm high on corn

Today I returned from a whirlwind road trip from Colorado to Iowa, via Omaha, Nebraska. All I can say after roughly 2,800 miles on the road, 13.1 of those miles spent running and yet another reminder of how blessed I am to have wonderful friends is I'm exhausted and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

It was the change in scenery, the miles put on the car, surviving a half-marathon I was entirely unsure about and being around running friends (with whom, you know, no subject is off limits) that put me right where I needed to be. I wasn't sure about this trip, for many reasons. One, of course, being the running but also being so unsure of the steps I've been taking in other parts of my life. It turns out packing a lot into the last bit of Summer is just the thing to remind yourself that those steps, both running and otherwise, are inevitable.

And there's nothing like being with people who accept you, your choices, and your bad jokes just the way they are to reassure you that by taking advantage of every minute, you are doing just the right thing. Because when I think about that inevitable "end" we all will reach one day, it will not matter that I ran slower than I should, or that I passed up a chance for promotion because it didn't feel right or that I put off getting the carpets cleaned. Yes, all of those things might bother me, but it really doesn't matter.

So after an all-too-fast weekend and keeping myself up late tonight to do homework that I just didn't seem to get to before now, I can at least be assured of a few things: we really do only race one person, weekends and life go far too fast, and you shouldn't wear a skirt in a cornfield.


P.S. I am so sorry to my Minnesota and Iowa blogging friends. There was just no time for an extended visit. I totally think this should be in my life plans soon, though. Believe me, I need no excuse to meet strangers from the Internet. Heh.