December 9, 2015

simple pleasures: home edition

rolling the trash cans down the driveway on trash day

hearing the thwack of the ice machine dropping ice in the freezer

(anecdote: the day we moved in, I opened the freezer and saw we had an ice maker, but we weren't sure if it was connected to the water line so I flipped it on. then we went downstairs, and a few minutes later we heard a noise. we both stopped and looked at each other in bewilderment and then I yelled HELL YEAH WE HAVE ICE!)

opening the gate to our fence when I get home

having a utility sink. I don't know why.

I have been battling a relentless bout of depression for months. long enough that I often believe that I will never not feel this way. I have sunbreaks from time to time, for no obvious reason, and then just as arbitrarily, I stumble back down. I often feel like a mostly-empty balloon. I might start to feel a little bit better -- buoyed up -- but the smallest thing can deflate me again. it's frustrating and exhausting.

I started seeing a therapist. in our first session I started talking all about what was going on, how I felt stuck, how I couldn't seem to get out of my own way, how there are all these things I'm doing badly and if I could just figure out how to start doing them, and doing them better, it would go a long way. after maybe half an hour, she asked, "do you think you might be kind of hard on yourself?" and I started sobbing.

some days I feel okay. other days I cry quietly at my desk. I struggle to force myself to go out, to do anything social, to do anything at all. depression has made me a bad friend, a poor correspondent, distant, uncommunicative. I wish there were any way to verbalize how hard it can be just to write a text message sometimes. I'm trying.

day 0
I quit the streak. I quit on October 12. It was deliberate. at the time, it felt like it was time. I dreaded going out the door every single day. I was only running to check off the days, and I had been for months. I was running less, and slower, than I had in a long time. so one day I made the decision. I aimed to quit on the day of a race, in order to be with friends and go out with style, but that day happened to be day 649 of the streak and I just couldn't let that stand. so I ran one more day, alone, around my neighborhood, and it felt fitting and right. I cried a little. I thought the following day would be a challenge -- don't run!! -- but I had a beer, climbed into my big fluffy chair, and watched movies. it felt decadent. it continued to feel decadent for at least a week afterward, when I would have the daily moment of "oh gosh, still gotta run" which was then accompanied by the elation of realizing that I didn't.

but ask me now and I will tell you that I'm sorry I let it go. all my worst fears about quitting have come to pass: I stopped running, I stopped doing anything. I've run 5 times since then. it all feels like it was a waste. this week I've realized I have to start running right away or risk feeling that it was all for nothing. I am trying hard to live this bit moment to moment, forgetting about 650 days, forgetting about race goals, forgetting about what my body once could do, because remembering makes me so frustrated that I just want to throw my shoes across the room and give up.

hasimoto's, or something
I've mentioned it off and on (maybe? I don't know, I haven't reread the blog), but I have been having mysterious and kind of amorphous health problems this entire year. mostly in relation to my energy level (low with bouts of 'turning into a noodle,' as it's colloquially called in my house), but there have been a host of other small, unshakeable things. persistent headaches (if I get a hangover now my headaches sometimes don't go away until three days later), bouts of lightheadedness, total lack of appetite coupled with the bodily feeling that I'm somehow starving, weird skin problems, weird inability to stay hydrated, random muscle aches, heart palpitations. also I have a stomach ulcer.


my doctor is super nice but my feeling has kind of been that she thinks it's just dietary and isn't really concerned. I had relatively low iron and B12 levels earlier in the year, so I take a robust hilarious amount of supplements, which have done little to nothing in terms of making me feel better. but up until yesterday I had still been blaming my diet, which has been not as great as I would like. and then suddenly it occurred to me, from who knows where, that I shouldn't have to have a picture perfect diet in order to feel like a working human being.

("are you maybe being too hard on yourself?")

I have long wondered if all these symptoms weren't indicative of some sort of endocrine problem, but my doctor has seemed so unconcerned that I've never pursued it. I don't like going to the doctor because I err on the side of wanting to fix my problems -- any problems -- myself, and I always feel like whatever I'm in for is not actually important enough to warrant an office visit. (but also when I had the flu as a sophomore in high school, my temperature spiked to 105 and my mom still didn't take me to the doctor, so I come by my doctor anxiety honestly.) this means that I usually feel kind of cowed when I'm there. but I finally made an appointment with a totally different doctor in order to get another opinion. I strongly suspect a thyroid problem, and at least if I have to belligerently insist on thyroid tests (doctors notoriously discount thyroid issues), I'll be doing it to a total stranger.

also I have a torn rotator cuff. (or at least I'm 98% sure I do.) I sustained it in the paddle portion of the ride-row-run back in september, but it remained kind of a dull annoyance -- after the initial HORRIBLE KNOT I had in my shoulder for over a week -- until just the other day when presumably I reinjured it. at work, I can't find a single way to hold my arm that doesn't hurt. I can't roll down my car window, I can't put on a coat, I can't lift it in most ways without weird clicking. FUN. TIMES. so I go to the doctor for that on friday.

umm, something fun to end on

boyfriend is coming home with me for christmas, and except for the horrible terror I have over how overpowering the smell of dog pee will be in my mom's house (the family dog is on death's doorstep and it has ruined the carpets), I'm looking forward to it.

September 3, 2015

a summer



our crazy yard

downtown wildfire smoke

keyport mystery weekend

blue ribbon winners

ellie in the old place


low tide

drunk wedding photos

white salmon river cabin

hot DAWG

that guy

olympic national forest

day 600

garry oak and friends

race day in the vineyards

white salmon river, sun, feet


nub and the boys

screen door, summer in the new house  |  nub eyes a summit  |  the unkempt yard  |  wildfire smoke in the valley  |  mystery weekend, keyport, wa  | age group winners, pine hollow triathlon  |  ellie and I bid farewell to my bachelor pad  |  huckleberry tongue, clear lake, wa  |  low tide on liberty bay  |  drunk wedding selfies, madison, wi  |  the cabin on the river  |  hot dog w/mai tai snow cone, a still life  |  that hike was colder than this photo makes it look  |  an afternoon in olympic national forest, before we almost ran out of gas  |  day 600!  |  reliving my halcyon mascot days  |  good day for a race through the vineyard  |  morning on the white salmon river  |  the flattest possible flat tire  |  nub plays ultimate frisbee

I live with my boyfriend now. we have been dating for seven months and living together for two because we are reckless adults, I guess? a couple friends have been like "you'll fight all the time at first, it's fine, it's normal," but actually we get along great and it turns out the person who had a harder time learning to share was NOT ME for once. our yard is a disaster and it took us eight hundred years to feel like the living room wasn't a war zone, and there's still a bunch of piles of crap in the basement but that's what basements are for. I was tempted to skip this weekend's camping trip in order to stay home for four days and meticulously organize things while singing loudly to the Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack, but they're going to go crabbing tomorrow night and I like being on boats, so I'm going.

this blog post is a great illustration of how easy it is on the internet to tell the story of your life in a way that seems romantic and exciting. I put all these photos together and thought, dang, actually we had a fun summer, which was surprising because both of us have actually mostly felt overwhelmed and vaguely frustrated with how we weren't quite having the summers we wanted. (his: camping; mine: swimming). I've barely seen or spoken to friends, not because I'm all-consumed with BOYFRIENDBOYFRIENDBOYFRIEND but because I've been at the very last thread of my rope from being overscheduled and overextended. out of mental RAM. tired.

I quit facebook for the summer and might I suggest you do the same? though lately my fb boundaries have eroded and I have started furtively checking it. time away from stupid social media does make you wonder why we care to post all this crap instead of just going outside and reading books. I didn't do as much "going outside and reading books" as I would have hoped, but I'm glad I didn't spend that time wistfully gazing at everyone else's seemingly-picture perfect summers. 

boyfriend left this morning with a friend to score their favorite tent spot and since he drove off I've eaten a milky way dark, a handful of beef jerky, and some cold plain rice noodles. I have no defense for any of that.

June 2, 2015

uh, june

where do I begin.

I'm on a plane somewhere above missouri. I'm drinking a glass of wine and working online, two things I never do at 30,000 feet because I'm too cheap/poor. but I was supposed to fly out yesterday and was waylaid by thunderstorms so, whatever.

I flew home on friday (my 34th birthday, for the record) because my littlest siblings graduated from their respective high schools this weekend. I came in on a red eye, went straight to a picnic at my old high school, ran into my former french teacher (who still recognized me and who was shocked to discover I was 34; thanks, mr. baier), ate a hot dog, got sunburned. we went home and I unpacked and then we picked up crabs and beer and the guy at the liquor store told me not to carry the case of beer I was carrying because "it'll hurt the baby" ??????? which is the first time I've ever been mistaken for pregnant and it was so ludicrous that I couldn't do anything but burst out laughing. then we ate crabs and drank beers and there was ice cream cake and I went to sleep. 

also my mom and brother greeted me at the airport with a mylar HAPPY BIRTHDAY banner and a tiara, so it was all pretty good.

on saturday, my sister's graduation was at 10 am and my brother's was at 7 pm, and in between there was a lot of driving and a little napping, and I fell asleep in our hammock and woke up with a terrible headache, which eventually meant I threw up in the parking lot behind friendly's while my family ate a late, post-graduation dinner. 

then I hung my head out the window as we drove back to my mom's, threw up in her front field, and ran a mile at 11:40 pm. #blessed

on sunday we threw a graduation party where we somehow had 60 people over, and I still had a headache but I did at least get to hang out with my extended family and their respective small offspring, having not seen them since christmas. which was nice. there was a lot of cake. 

yesterday my sister and I went on a trail run (day 517), stood up to our knees in the gunpowder river (still too cold to swim in), went for snowballs, and came home. I'm happy to report that I let her drive me around a few times over the course of the weekend without having a panic attack.

then my family drove me to the airport and said goodbye, and I bought a $10 bagel sandwich (wtf) and boarded the plane, which then sat on the tarmac for an hour before we were told we were grounded due to thunderstorms. we exited the plane in a very slow trickle. I stood in line at the gate for about an hour and a half, rebooked for today, called my mom, and was picked up five hours after being dropped off. we came home and I more or less went immediately to bed.

this morning I painted my nails, stalked the birds in my mom's backyard through a pair of binoculars (if I haven't mentioned the elaborate birding competition my entire extended family is currently in the middle of ... well, we're currently in the middle of an elaborate birding competition), and drove back to the airport. 

now I am on a plane. which I've already mentioned. I'm contemplating a second glass of wine, like some kind of lush.

so that sums up the last four days. as for the rest of things, I just don't even know, internet. here:

- in a dramatic, whirlwind turn of events, my gentleman friend (of four months, THAT'S RIGHT, INTERNET) and I rented a house together and are moving in 29 days. I am 1% HOLY SHIT and 99% excited out of my mind, both at the prospect of shacking up with him and at the prospect of doing so in a HOUSE like a GROWNUP. 

- and with a yard. A YARD.

- after having strange dizzy spells for the last several months, I finally went to the doctor and got a battery of blood work done and discovered that I have a pretty severe iron deficiency and a B12 deficiency, which is unfortunate proof that one cannot live on candy and pastries alone. I am iron deficient but not anemic, but I tell everyone I'm anemic because the symptoms are the same -- extreme fatigue, light-headedness, lack of appetite, easy bruising, etc -- and it's too complicated to explain otherwise. I'm taking a ludicrous amount of supplements and going back for more tests in two months and I'm really hoping that once everything levels out that I'll be suddenly extremely fast and strong. you know, bionic.

- uh, I don't really know. I'm still running? I got through day 500 and I'm still chugging along. I'm trying to hate it less. this is another reason I'm SUPER EXCITED about moving: new running routes!! And we're moving to north portland, where I have never lived and therefore barely know at all, so everything is strange and there's lots of exploring and I can stop being bored for awhile. 

life is good but I struggle daily with finding balance. it feels like the move will eventually help things to settle down, but in the interim it's all going to be harder, I think. maybe one day I'll learn how to live a regular-person life without being dreadfully overwhelmed? maybe.

May 18, 2015

a year ago

listen, he said, you ever seen a bunch of crabs in a
no, I told him.
well, what happens is that now and then one crab
will climb up on top of the others
and begin to climb toward the top of the bucket,
then, just as he’s about to escape
another crab grabs him and pulls him back
really? I asked.
really, he said, and this job is just like that, none
of the others want anybody to get out of
here. that’s just the way it is
in the postal service!
I believe you, I said.

just then the supervisor walked up and said,
you fellows were talking.
there is no talking allowed on this

I had been there for eleven and one-half

I got up off my stool and climbed right up the
and then I reached up and pulled myself right
out of there.

it was so easy it was unbelievable.
but none of the others followed me.

and after that, whenever I had crab legs
I thought about that place.
I must have thought about that place
maybe 5 or 6 times

before I switched to lobster.

- charles bukowski, the great escape

March 23, 2015

days 400-446
have been kind of bleak? for a variety of reasons, some of them very difficult to articulate, I am quite suddenly finding it next to impossible most days to feel interested in running. it isn't burnout. it might be distraction. muscles hurt inexplicably. who can say. I just keep running and hoping for better days.

recently I was talking to someone dear to me about trying to introduce exercise into one's life, about how what makes it stick is finding something you enjoy, and I said, "if there's anything I've learned in 400+ days, it's that discipline is just love, really." sometimes I think I've learned more about long-term relationships from this daily solitary endeavor than anything else, ever. how you can on some days utterly hate it and still not want to quit.

small regrets rectified
I've been issued a new garden plot, in my old garden site but on the opposite side of the garden. I am so happy about this. I gave up my plot a year and a half ago when I thought I was moving to alabama. I gave away a lot of stuff during the time when I thought I'd move, but it's only the loss of the garden that I've bitterly regretted.

it will, however, be hard to see the raspberry canes in my old plot, which it used to take me an hour a day to harvest, and be unable to pick them. I'll admit to being a little small and jealous in hoping that someone tore them up.

the unexpected
there are two toothbrushes in my bathroom. a second tube of deodorant. a phone charger. an extra container of yogurt. at the precise moment I had conceded to the idea of staying single forever -- I preferred it, didn't I? I was too finicky, too solitary, too headstrong -- out came this most extraordinary of surprises. a chance encounter with a former colleague turned into a date, and then a weekend of dates, and then a few days in a cabin in the woods, and now a dedicated shelf in my bathroom. nobody -- and I really mean this -- is more astonished than we are. just when you think you know where you're headed. you'd think I'd have learned this by now.

March 14, 2015

I know, you never intended to be in this world.
But you’re in it all the same.

So why not get started immediately.

I mean, belonging to it.
There is so much to admire, to weep over.

And to write music or poems about.

Bless the feet that take you to and fro.
Bless the eyes and the listening ears.
Bless the tongue, the marvel of taste.
Bless touching.

You could live a hundred years, it’s happened.
Or not.
I am speaking from the fortunate platform
of many years,
none of which, I think, I ever wasted.
Do you need a prod?
Do you need a little darkness to get you going?
Let me be as urgent as a knife, then,
and remind of you Keats,
So single of purpose and thinking, for a while,
he had a lifetime.

-- mary oliver, the fourth sign of the zodiac

February 10, 2015

on the phone with my kid sister, who happened to answer when I called the landline at home in maryland. seventeen seems, in abstract, such a dreamy age, no longer a kid but not yet an adult; seventeen makes me think of summer and ponytails and small, delicious secrets. the truth of seventeen is more straightforward and less romantic: kids with acne who find themselves expected to make large choices about their life path only months after they even learned to drive; kids who haven't figured out how to manage their hair or their emotions.

she tells me that she's considering pulling out of the disney trip she's supposed to be taking with the orchestra. I'd have to miss track practices for weeks, she says, and none of my friends are going, and I'll miss all of spring break. but I can't get the money back. how much? I ask. four hundred, she says. 

I can't make the decision for you, I say, but let me tell you: my senior year I auditioned, on a lark, for the small spring musical, a stupid ripoff of a chorus line that took place in high school instead of in a dance audition. I unexpectedly landed a role. I was dating a theater guy at the time. spring track season was about to start and I found myself having to choose. we were frustrated at our track coach and, god, I don't even know what the deciding factors were, really, but I chose the musical. I don't remember a single thing about the experience except that the character's name was Dawn and I sang two lines and they sat in a terrible place in my voice (the passagio, but I didn't know that then) so I more or less had to yell them rather than sing them. I missed my final season of running and I know now that it was the wrong decision, that I should have stuck with what I loved. I tell her that sure, she'll lose four hundred bucks, but is that really the deciding factor? or should it be?

we keep talking for awhile, until finally she walks back to find my mom. but before she passes the phone over, she says, with surprising sincerity: thank you for your opinion about spring break. nobody else will really tell me what they think I should do. 

it's a glimpse, I think, of a relationship to come. it feels like something close to real sisterhood. 

I injured an adductor muscle last monday (a groin muscle, for the layfolk among you) and in response my entire left hip structure has been tensed up and miserable for a week. it seems to have triggered that old physical response that I dealt with for years -- chronic hip pain -- and since I can't remember or don't know how that got better, I'm in an old familiar place. I had forgotten how intrusive it is, how frustrating to be unable to find any position that feels better. sitting makes it worse. standing makes it nominally better but is exhausting and untenable in the long term. so I just nurse it along. my relationship to running right now is manic: there are days where I run seven miles on a whim and other days where the thought of having to go run brings upon a massive sense of dread. I think maybe it's just february. everybody hates february.

edited to add: I just remembered. homeroom. the name of the stupid high school musical was homeroom. utterly forgettable in every way. I don't suggest looking it up.