December 16, 2014

what I've been doing
listening to seemingly hundreds of episodes of the writer's almanac
braiding my hair
running
endlessly knitting scarves
quietly reciting poems to myself while lying in bed
obsessively making holiday treats, though surprisingly not obsessively eating holiday treats
wearing tights
thinking about all the cool new things I want to learn

day 350
I have been doing a lot of hippie woo-woo stuff with my lower legs and miraculously have been running more and faster than I have in a long time. still baby steps: by "more" I mean "four miles" and by "faster" I mean still 90 seconds a mile slower than my fastest. but all of this is very okay.

I try to imagine how day 365 will feel and I come up short. emotional? normal? no big deal, or an enormous one? (both.) I haven't figured out whether to run alone -- which is how I've done easily 90% of these runs -- or with cherished running friends. probably the latter, so there's somebody to high five at the end. I love high fives.

also
I abruptly decided to start online dating, stuck with it for about a day and a half, and then changed my mind. I had gotten a surprising number of messages from dudes. it all seemed like so much trouble. I'm starting to wonder if maybe some of us just aren't cut out to have partners.

"I'm a loner, Dottie. A rebel."
-- pee wee, 'pee wee's big adventure'

I've never been terribly good at sharing, and I never did much like being told what to do. it's perhaps illustrative of the situation that I conflate 'dating' with 'being told what to do.'

of course, just as I was beginning to settle into the notion that I could just keep being single and who cares, I developed what can only be described as a debilitating crush on an acquaintance. so who even knows at this point.

ack
somehow it's 9 days before christmas. I have never before been this unprepared for it. can we get another month, please?



December 15, 2014

fence repair

What’s the matter with you today
sed John you and Jan fighting?
On no I said it’s not that
it’s a letter I got that’s bothering me.
Must be from the govament
or the insurance, I can understand that.
No, John, it’s not them this time
it’s from a friend.
Did he die or summin?
You aint sed a decent word all morning
I might as well be working by myself
and let you set on the nailkeg
unrolling barbwore

Oh dammit, John,
it’s just a letter that pissed me off,
I said. It’s from a writer who saw something I wrote
about coyotes killing sheep
and he wrote saying that never happens.
He sez what? sez John.
He said there’s no documented evidence
that a coyote ever killed a sheep
unless it was rabid, I said.
And he said my story was a lie
and should never have been written.
He’s a writer? sez John.
What does he write about?
Oh, he writes novels, I said.
Books about cowboys and Indians
and the California mountains.

He sez that sed John
did he? You know
most chickens I known of
is layers and most folks
I known is liars
and most of them don’t know the different
but that don’t get in the way
of their opinions.
It was a preacher
got his first call
to come to our town back home
his first sermon that everbody
showed up to hear
was how all people is good
it aint no such of a thing
as a bad person

he wasn’t in town half a year
before Travis Newberry
knocked up his daughter in the eighth grade
and he was twenty-four by then.
He’d started preaching late
after giving up on farming
and owning a grocery store
must of been too late
he run out of words after bout a year
we had to elect him to office
to give him something to do.
First thing he voted no taxes
and no pay raises to schoolteachers
so they all known he’d be a good one
mebbe governor some day
had to move him out
of the parsonage and into a house
where he had to pay rent
like real people
so they found him a place
out on the end of town
where they could be alone
with that pregnant girl
they took out of school.
It was skunks out there
a mama and four babies
and his wife and that girl
sez oh they’re purdy
let them alone we like them
so he did
by the time she had her baby
they’d killed all their chickens
the Easter ducks and the cats
it was mice and skunks
running all over that place
they couldn’t live there no more
so he run for state office

they sent that girl
off to Christian school
we never heard of her again
and tried to raise the baby boy
but couldn’t do that neither.
He got elected
to the campaign of no taxes
and close down the schools
cause he blamed it all
on Travis Newberry hanging around
the jr-high parking lot
and moved to the state capital
to live and before
they could rent that house again
they had to set out traps
for two months and rat poison
sed they got twenty-four skunks
but nobody counted the mice
it was awful
took a year for the smells
to go off and it wasn’t no hippies
back then to rent it to
they had to wait it out

so he run for Warshington office
six years later
and put the boy in the orphanage
up for adoption
he might of been a scandal
but he didn’t get elected
they made him a judge instead
after that and he’s rich
still there and being so famous
he don’t pay no rent
the state gave him a house
and a car and a maid

but that still don’t mean he known one damn thing
about people or skunks or mice
or preaching or farming or
running a grocery store.
I seen it with my own eyes
a coyote running through
a herd of sheep and killed nine lambs
just to do it
and we set up five nights
in our pickups waiting for him
until he come back
and he killed four more
before we shot him
and that’s nothing to what
Allen Dalley out to Summit lost
that one year when they say
coyotes got half his lamb crop
that’s just a bunch of bullshit
because he done one thing
don’t mean he knows nothing
about anothern
and if he doesn’t know
what he’s talking about
you tell him to just keep his mouth closed
or run for office
that’s what it’s there for
so why don’t you forget about it
and you can forget him too for now
let’s get to work
cause all this is real
not something in a book
and has to be got done for sure
not just by thinking about it
and if you don’t get that frown put in a drawer
this is gone be a long day of work

- david lee

September 23, 2014

so the thing about coming back to your blog after a long absence is always that there is so much to say and nowhere to begin and even though you spend a lot of time reading other people's blogs you still think nobody can possibly be interested in what you have to say so why bother.

the only way to do it is to mind vomit, so here goes.

rainy season
it's raining in portland. 

streak, day 310
I am still running. I have run every day for 310 days. it has been simultaneously easy and hard. it has required something that masquerades as discipline but is really more a cocktail of stubbornness, habit, a tendency towards completionism, and a love of running (most of the time). I mean, maybe that's all discipline is, but I don't think so. I couldn't keep doing this if I didn't love to run, but just loving to run isn't enough; you also have to arbitrarily and illogically feel driven to keep the chain going. for me it constantly feels like a competition with time itself. every run is another day I beat the odds. I'm safe until tomorrow.

I love it. it has been the only constant in a year full of extremes, a rope I have followed hand over hand through the dark. I am nowhere near where I thought I would be, running-wise, and I am learning how to be okay with that. how to be patient. 

people ask how long I will go. a coworker often teases me by talking about "after the streak is over." I cannot imagine voluntarily giving it up. only cataclysm could do it.

but still: I'm bearing down on the end of the year, and though it feels commonplace -- like brushing my teeth -- it also feels jubilant.   

find your weaknesses
my new job is good. actually if you can think of a word between 'okay,' 'fine,' and 'good,' that's where it is. I am enjoying it just fine but it still feels weird, like something I'm just trying on for awhile. I guess that'll pass.

it's hard to be the most junior one. it means by default I am the weak link in our team of editors. (oh by the way, I am now a full-time sheet music editor.) nobody is upset about this but me. everyone echoes again and again that it takes 2-3 years to really learn the job. they tell me I'm learning quickly, doing great. they know I won't know things. but I HATE NOT KNOWING THINGS. I find publicly Not Knowing Things to be extremely disagreeable. but I can't Know Things any faster. it is a job that you necessarily must fail at to learn completely. I'm learning to live with this particular discomfort but it, rather than any particular musical or clerical skill, is the biggest challenge of the job so far.

the other editors are the bomb diggity though. yes. bomb diggity. I said it.

not my job
much to my surprise, I mentally dropped the opera like a smoking hot potato after I left. it was easy not to think about it over the summer, when my life and the opera's life did not really overlap. but now the season is underway, friends are about to open the show, and I will tell you that it is a little bit hard and definitely sad. sad but not sorry. just so we're clear.

I have a ticket to opening night. I haven't watched an opera since 2010. I almost can't remember what it's like.

otherwise
the knitting and tv bingeing portion of the year is upon us. 

recent spam that accurately reflects my passion about breakfast

Why did I get yelled at, 19337470 you ask? I made a huge mistake, 19337470 I suppose. I ordered English breakfast with some toast, 48da484fda38bc1a4107f2ff81d37d35 but I had no idea the toast doesn't come at the same time as the breakfast. When I went 19337470 to pick up the breakfast platter, the guy who's dispatching the food asked if I also ordered a side of toast(furiously). Said yes, 19337470 and he pushed the toast plate over and yelled "I've been shouting for you to pick up your toast for the past 10 minutes!".48da484fda38bc1a4107f2ff81d37d35

oh geez 
in terms of 'stuff to write about,' this has hardly chipped the iceberg. I don't even know how to get it all out without it being a mixed up jumble of 50,000 words.







September 22, 2014

about face


so, in the span of a week, I:

• traded in the claptrap little red car for a working car (with airbags! and FOUR doors! and cupholders!)

• got paid from my annoying side gig (more on that later) and got to finally pay my cell phone bill and my board bill and now I actually have more than $50 in savings and feel sort of a little bit more like a grownup

• spent a day sunning myself in astoria, acting as cheerleader for my race buddy. I couldn't run it myself because I injured my foot to the point where I could hardly walk, feared I was staring down the barrel at the end of the streak, babied it like crazy, grit my teeth and ran verrrrrry gently on it, took ibuprofen, spent an entire day not walking, and made it get better enough that I

• competed in a crazy race over the weekend: 1 mile run, 26 mile bike ride, 3 mile kayak, 3 mile run. and won my division. it was the first time I've ever raced on the bike (and, um, the third time I've ridden my bike all summer? oops?). I had just been telling my race buddy about how I was terrified of biking down hills, only to face about 3 straight miles of climbing in the beginning of the course followed by two long curvy descents. I don't know if it was the race element or the stickiness of the asphalt/macadam or the fact that I had one earbud in and was listening to a race-specific playlist, but I bombed the shit out of those descents and suddenly understood why people like them.

Untitled

Untitled

Screen shot2014-09-22 at 9.11.10 PM
(this is about twenty steps into the race and the only time my race buddy, joy, was ever behind me)

• I joined the race team of my favorite running company, oiselle. they have an elite team, but recently created another tier of their team -- the flock, a membership-style model similar to many other teams/companies. you pay a membership fee and get a number of perks; in oiselle's case there were a very limited number of spots, and I had set five alarms on the day the team opened to make sure I got one. they hit their limit in 28 minutes. I have a race singlet and several races already scheduled with the local birds. I've been surprised by my own excitement about it; I hadn't realized how much I missed being a part of a race team.

bird is the word

.

my side gig: working as a contractor, music librarian, and surtitlist for an independently-produced chamber opera that had its premiere here in town at the beginning of september. it was ... challenging. it ended up, for many reasons, taking up every moment of my free time for most of august. but it was also unbelievably satisfying, in no small part because of how much of a headache it was. it was my first time being fully in charge of the orchestra: as contractor I hired everyone, set up payroll, dealt with the union, negotiated musicians' pay, negotiated (at the last minute) a recording contract, made sure the conductor stayed within his time limits in rehearsals, and managed all the other small details, like how when we got to the theater the pit had been rigged up so that the orchestra basically had to crawl into it.

I had always believed I preferred being second-in-command; you have some responsibility but can pass on the more difficult things to the person in charge. but I was wrong. I loved being the boss. it was truly a surprise. suddenly there were decisions to be made and nobody to second-guess me. I was in charge of making sure the orchestra got treated right -- the only person in charge of that. I took it very seriously. our flutist, whom I've known for years, remarked during one rehearsal, "you know, I never knew you had this side." (that is, the side of me that at one point, said to someone in charge, "I am not remotely interested in bullshit tonight. if I see anyone even begin to bully the orchestra, I am going to get ugly." for the record, it had already happened to other artists and was a very real concern.) the musicians couldn't have been kinder or more supportive, cheerful, flexible. it was, in many ways, the culmination of nine years' worth of tending relationships.

.

suddenly and inexplicably, I have come to terms with fall (mostly; ask me again after it starts raining tomorrow). I have more or less come to terms with everything, actually. who can say why this happens? I wish I knew, actually, so that I could draw upon it in the darker times. but I'm grateful for it just the same.

.

also can I just say: a good number of my people urged me to end my running streak when I was hobbling around on my bad foot. in my experience, people either get it or they don't, and no amount of explaining the streak's importance to me really clarifies things for those who don't. I was afraid I was being stupid for continuing to run on it, but I was also unwilling to end it until I knew for sure that my foot would not get better without rest. I feared ending the streak only to have my foot heal four days later. so I ran 13-minute miles, as late in the day as I could. I foam rolled and did foot exercises and wore sneakers to work and iced and heated and massaged. and I am really, really proud of having the grit to get through it.

September 14, 2014

two years of silence

the animal spell, by zachary schomburg

someone once told me that animals are people under spells, and if you fall in love with them the spell will be lifted. I recently fell in love with a black trumpeter swan. I watched her ruffle her neck feathers for hours, watched her peck bugs from her breast. I was sure she would make a beautiful bride, but she was always a black trumpeter swan. I once brushed a horse’s hair for 3 straight years until it crumpled into death. the truth is there is no such thing as spells. the world is always as it is, and always as it seems. and love is just our own kind voice that we whisper into our own blood.

August 24, 2014

I wish I could tell you any story except the one about my crippling sadness. the story of a summer spent uselessly trying to rehabilitate a car I never should have bought, that never should have been sold; of endlessly waiting for the bus; of sitting inside looking outside and feeling restless and trapped and frightened of all the time passing with no purpose. of earning more money on paper but being poorer than I have been in some years, despite having spent almost nothing on myself in months, save for groceries. about breaking off my relationship not once but twice, after both of us were too sad to make it stick the first time: a rift that seems to grow more painful rather than less, with each day unraveling the tie that binds us just a little more and a little more. I can't help but watch my alternate life go by, the one in which I managed to leave here last winter for bluer skies; the one in which I wake up next to my boyfriend in the house we talked of buying in the deep south. in that life, I would have fewer belongings, but also fewer fears that I may never pull my head above water, may never stay in love, may never move on to the step with children and dogs and a porch of my own.

or maybe in that alternate life I am in a far away state surrounded by people who don't want me to have birth control and I've gained a lot of weight from eating too much barbecue. who can say.

there's no other story except the one where I am so low that I struggle even to recognize the smallest of victories (the work successes, the 235 straight days of running, the rekindled friendship, the still being alive). at one point my car didn't run and my debit card number had been stolen so I was without transportation and without money: a momentary taste of what life is like in a completely different social class. I leave the headlights on one day and kill the battery. I go out with friends and it is so good to see them, but they are both pregnant and I feel as though I might as well be visiting from mars. at the company picnic I'm one of a tiny minority of people without a spouse, without toddlers.

I get catcalled on my runs and without hesitation I give those men the finger, angry at being an object, angry at being less-than, angry that we live in a time when this bullshit is all still here and we are still fighting to be seen as legitimate despite having vaginas. angry that after 235 days I'm still not running much at all, because I'm constantly battling one pain or another, pre-injuries that move from muscle to muscle without mercy. the alternative -- not running -- is not thinkable. some days the streak feels as much like a real, tangible friend as my real, tangible friends. one of the few constant, dependable things in my life.

I am lonely, and afraid of dying, afraid that every day I have to keep struggling to carry this monster in my muddled brain is another day of my life I didn't really get to live. it occurs to me to get a therapist but I don't know where the money would come from. I know by now that this is not how most people feel every day, but the knowledge doesn't throw me a ladder with which to climb out.

I'd like to tell you a story about a summer spent driving around oregon, camping on the weekends, or hiking, or swimming in a river. or even just of eating ice cream in cute shorts with a girlfriend, riding my bike, running long trails. I'd like to say I was tan and sometimes sandy and sometimes dirty, that I'd seen the asphalt of so many roads, that I was that good, satisfied kind of tired and ready for soup and rain. that I figured out a way to make this sweetest of romances work. maybe next year.


July 5, 2014

mike came and went. we ate tacos and watched battlestar galactica and drank beers and walked up and down the coast and watched people fly kites and went letterboxing and hiked and had a picnic. we hung out downtown. we played pinball. we went to a concert. now he is gone, and there is no clear path forward. there is no certainty that he will ever be back. he lives in alabama, I live in portland. it has always been this way -- but for awhile I was going to live in alabama, too. now all bets are off. he's asked if he can be called my 'boyfriend emeritus,' because neither of us can say 'ex.'

I have done a lot of walking back and forth through my apartment in the last two days, picking things up and putting them down again, or wiping a counter, or sitting down to do something and then forgetting what the something is. we are still in love. we have made this choice together. we still say good morning and goodnight. alabama/oregon. financial security/love. known/unknown. I do not know which way is up.

sometimes I look around at people at the lake with their kids, or drinking beers out on a patio, or doing work, and I really wonder if everyone else is having a hard time, too, or if there's something particular to my wiring. because I can look outside and see that the sky is beautiful, but I still feel lost.

I have a mental list of things that seem like they would make me much happier, even when I know that "if only I had X, I'd be happy" is a sure path to disappointment. the list:

• a backyard
• ...with a hammock, or at least lawn furniture
• a reliable car (my new one isn't quite there yet)
• a porch
• a family, or at least the trajectory towards one
• an occasional camping trip
• maybe a dog
• about half the debt I have

I live in fear that life is passing me by, but still get stuck, as I did today, by some unseen and unknowable force. indecision, or laziness, or inertia, or fear, or something else entirely. instead of leaving the house, I stand at the bathroom mirror and pluck the gray out of my hair.

I get up and pack my lunch and go to work and appear competent and crack jokes with coworkers and go for runs and drink with friends and lie in bed watching cartoons and through it all I still live in holy terror that I am missing something. fear of missing out.



at work I go to lunch with some colleagues and they all sit around talking about their kids, and I feel like I've been accidentally invited to a meeting for which I do not have the skill set.



I don't have the answers to anything. does anyone? that is a real question.

a curious thing about me: sitting heavy in my sadness, I tried to think up things I could do now that I'm single. I couldn't come up with much; mike is sweet and supportive and fun. but what I did think was, 'well, I guess now I can go back to turning myself into a ninja.' which is to say, now I can become a different thing: learn spanish or rock climbing or poker. I looked straight at that and thought, well, there's your problem. because the only thing stopping me from doing those things as a girlfriend is some strange wall in my own mind. what is that wall? why do I do that? if you know something and I want to learn it, I'd still rather teach myself in secret and at great expense than ask you to teach me. because then I wouldn't be an impenetrable force.

mike and I went rock climbing when I was last in birmingham. he frequents the climbing gym but I had never been before. I was absolutely closed to the idea of having anyone see me fall off the wall. far better climbers than me -- that is to say, climbers, in any capacity -- were falling off the wall at regular intervals. it is how you learn. I know this in my thought brain. but my other dumb brain was like, 'nope.' I had told mike going in that being seen while not knowing something is one of my biggest irrational fears. he couldn't have been more patient with me. I did climb the wall a few times. I never would have gone alone.

I don't know anything about anything.



lately I often find myself reading something and thinking, "I write better than this," which is a thing you are not allowed to say if you don't really do much writing anymore.