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.

February 8, 2015

day 404

"A friend of mine from Santa Fe went to visit Roshi when she was up in Minnesota.

She said to him, "I'd like to study Zen."

He said, "It's no big deal. Here's a book." He lifted a book off his desk. "You can either fling it down or place it down, like this." He demonstrated placing it down. My friend said the way he placed it, the book became a real being.

"That's all," he said, and smiled.

The tricky thing about Roshi was, the things that were extraordinary about him, you couldn't copy. They came from within him. What you wanted in him had to come from within you. You could get up at four-fifteen A.M. a few times to get to the zendo by five to sit with Roshi because you wanted to be noticed by him or to be with him, but you couldn't keep it up for those reasons, especially since it didn't impress him. Finally, you had to give up all that. You had to do it because it came from inside you, because you wanted to do it, whether he was there or not. And then it even became empty of that. You just did it because you did it."

-- natalie goldberg, long quiet highway

day 404: a big breakfast, a day spent curled up watching movies and napping, and then dragging yourself out the door for one easy mile that you are not remotely feeling. and then it's a mile in and it turns out you're feeling fine so you think you'll just keep running for awhile, and the air smells like wood smoke and then pizza and then bacon and then rain, and the stars are unexpectedly out, the clouds illuminated by an unseen moon. is there lightning? it seems like maybe there is a very occasional flash of far off lightning. you decide you might as well just do your long run today after all. you don't have music, which these days is unusual, so it's you and your wondrous, surprisingly content, quiet, grateful mind. the miles are easy until they are hard, and then hard until they're over, and all of this is completely the point. you run a little past where it hurts, because that's how muscles grow: by breaking down and then mending the weak places until they're strong.

instead of one mile, you run seven. life is unpredictable that way.