January 29, 2010

on running

Recent running highlights:
- seen twice: a man on rollerblades, jamming out HARDCORE on air guitar
- a man sitting by the river rail, playing guitar, who, when I passed, sang a song about jogging

coming in to the finish line, PDX Marathon 2007

Is 2010 the year I become a Real Runner (No Kidding This Time)?

Lately, I'm sort of consumed by running. It isn't even so much that I'm running a lot: just 10-15 miles a week, which typically looks like a couple 3.5-milers. It's more that I'm thinking about it all the time, and planning my days to include it, and dreaming of races and meeting new running friends and participating in the Urban Adventure Runs.

NB: two of my browser tabs right now are pointed to half-marathon race pages.

People who see me on a day-to-day basis would probably be surprised to know that I'm not always like this. They've seen me as a pretty die-hard runner since I ran the marathon in '07. But the truth is, marathon training was the closest I ever came to being a consistent runner. In reality, I go through spurts (several weeks to a month or two long) of running, followed by weeks of not running, followed by periods of running once or twice a week. Followed by guilt. I self-identify very strongly as a runner but it doesn't always pan out in practice.

This sort of enthusiasm bubble has descended on me before. Last spring, I thought, "This is really it, I'm going to be a runner for real now, I'm going to keep it up." And then inevitably life descended and I gave it up for awhile. I'm unwilling to declare it this time. Too afraid of jinxing it.

But seriously. Yesterday I signed up for a mid-March 15K. I'm eyeballing an April half. The difference this year might be my strong desire for friendships outside the theater, which seem to be a luxury well beyond my reach. I'm so busy, between work and the barn, that it's nearly impossible to pursue new hobbies or find, for instance, a book club. Running appears to be my way in.

Also, have I told you I'm kind of fast? I didn't know this until I bought my Garmin.

January 21, 2010


this mare is still being a total jerk but she is awfully funny when she rolls. thankfully she's still a sweetheart on the ground. she did turn her head to nuzzle my foot at one point while I was riding, so maybe we're making progress.

January 19, 2010

geeking out

I got my quarterly newsletter from MOLA today. MOLA stands for Major Orchestra Librarians' Association. I know -- awesome, right? I was so pleased when our membership application was accepted two yeras ago. Today's packet included a schedule for the 2010 conference. OH BOY OH BOY! Some highlights:
  • Hands-on music repair and binding
  • RICOH Users Group (yes, that's right -- a special session for people who use a specific kind of copier)
  • Rental agencies behind the scenes
  • Advanced Proofing and Editing: A hands-on, in-depth session with an editor for a major publisher
  • Large Format Photocopiers
  • Correcting parts and creating errata lists
  • Opera Roundtable (YAY!)

    and of course my favorite:
  • Scotch Tasting
I wanted to go last year, especially because it was being held not far from my home in Maryland, but it crept up on me and I didn't have an opportunity to find funds (either through the opera, through MOLA itself, or in my own wallet) nor, really, the time to spend away from work. But this year I'm really hoping to go. Attending it, in fact, is on the yearly list of goals I turned in during my performance review last fall. I don't get to interface with many other librarians and I love when I have the chance, because I'm mostly operating in a bubble -- I started this job with little notion of how it worked, and I've made up solutions to my problems for the past 4 1/2 years. I've become pretty adept at faking it till I make it, but it's so nice to speak to other people in the field and find ways to do things better (or ways I'm doing things right).

Cosi is in the full swing of rehearsals downstairs right now. On Saturday we'll have the orchestra start, and then it's off to the races. I'm a little ashamed to report that I haven't nearly the drive to immerse myself in Mozart the way I did with Philip Glass. I'm sure it will creep up on me, the way these shows often do, and by the end of the run I'll be engulfed despite myself. I suppose there are so many people who already admire Cosi that I don't feel responsible for making sure it's sufficiently loved.

January 18, 2010

not much

I'm boring lately, guys. BO-RING. I don't have much to tell you. The laundry's done? (Mostly.) I make my bed in the mornings? (It's heavenly.) Seriously, nothing.

OK, OK. Maybe a little something. Cookie reared the other day, in our first ride since early December. How's that? Rearing is considered one of the more dangerous and disrespectful behaviors a horse can display. It was one of the few things I'd never experienced. It turned out to be way easier to ride than bucking, although to be fair she wasn't exactly pulling a black stallion*. Her front hooves only got 2-3 feet off the ground, which was enough to get the message (eff you, lady) across. I didn't get unseated and we rode for another 20-30 minutes -- long enough to get MY message across (you might be 1000 pounds but I'm still in charge).

On Saturday she bucked halfway down the rail but it was a spook, not an attitude problem, and once again I managed to keep her between me and the ground.

* I think The Black Stallion is one of the worst books in the classic horse canon ever. EVER.

January 13, 2010


1. Monday, lunch hour. I am running my usual route along the river. I am a little over a mile in when a cyclist pedals up slowly from behind. "You've got a great ass on you," he says quietly, and keeps going. I am torn between wanting to yell "Stuff it, creep!" and being flattered. With an instant to decide, I yell back, "Hey, thanks!"

Then to up his creepiness factor, he doubles back. He lingers for a good long while ahead of me until I am forced to run past him again, and they he stays behind me for awhile. I mean, really, buddy? Really? I begin calculating what I'll do in the event that he really won't leave me alone. It's three weeks since my last run, so I'm kind of just blowing the dust out; at any rate, regardless of my fitness level, I can't outrun a cyclist. Then again, it's mid-afternoon in a relatively public spot on the river.

He approaches again from behind.
"Seriously, I could watch you all day," he says.
"Then it's a shame for you that I can't run all day," I respond. He asks how far I am running; I say 3 1/2 miles; I am pleasant but don't make eye contact. "That's far," he says. "I couldn't do that."

He pauses. "Well, keep it up, it's working for you," he throws in, and then bikes off for good.

Final tally: 40% awesome, 60% creepy.

2. Tuesday night, feeding horses. The Bobcat we usually use to haul hay is inexplicably full of manure; I find this out when, groping in the pitch-dark hay barn, I stick my hand wrist-deep into it. Half a bale of alfalfa is down; the grass hay is all over the place. The hay knife, which is white and easy to spot in the dark, is missing; in groping around on the ledge I nearly hack a chunk of my finger off with another knife that happens to be floating around.

Without the Bobcat I'm forced to load hay into the wheelbarrow, which can only accomodate 8-10 flakes of hay at a time: enough to feed about 6 horses. It is a slow process. When I'm finished with the upper barn, I begin to work on loading the wheelbarrow for the lower barn when I realize I've used up the whole bale of alfalfa, and there are still 10 horses to feed. The most accessible bale is 10 feet up. No stepladder. I begin to tap into my arsenal of swear words. I rummage around until I find the hay hooks, and then empty a nearby feed bucket and turn it face down on the ground near the stacked bales. A feed bucket is less than two feet tall, so I still have to reach overhead to pull down the bale. I can't get a good angle because I'm terrified to stand in front of them, lest they crash down on me and pin me. Finally I settle on standing at the front of the stack and attempting to haul the top bale off laterally. I struggle to get any purchase with the hay hook -- I'm reaching too far up to be able to swing with any gusto -- and when I finally do and begin to pull, four of the bales sway.

I use every swear word I can think of.

Figuring that there's no other option, I grunt and heave and knock a bunch of bales to the floor. They're scattered everywhere and have to be moved. Have you ever seen a 120-pound girl move a 100 pound hay bale? In the dark? In the mud? When she's pissed off? I'm sorry for you if you haven't. I made up expletives just for that circumstance.

January 12, 2010

the secret

When you were sleeping on the sofa
I put my ear to your ear and listened
to the echo of your dreams.

That is the ocean I want to dive in,
merge with the bright fish,
plankton and pirate ships.

I walk up to people on the street that kind of look like you
and ask them the questions I would ask you.

Can we sit on a rooftop and watch stars dissolve into smoke
rising from a chimney?
Can I swing like Tarzan in the jungle of your breathing?

I don't wish I was in your arms,
I just wish I was pedaling a bicycle
toward your arms.

-- jeffrey mcdaniel

January 10, 2010

what lies ahead

hey! it's the new year! I am finally settling in to the 2010 the rest of you have had 10 days with already. it's pretty nice, I guess? I have to say, I really liked 2009. even if "twenty-ten" is easier to say than any year in the previous decade, I'm a little ambivalent about moving on. I've even considered holding off on a resolution until my birthday, which I consider my own personal new year. however, I want to ride the infectious wave of enthusiasm that goes hand-in-hand with january 1, so here is my small but mighty (and late) contribution to the vast tide of resolutions.

my motto this year: simplify.

yup. that's it. simplify. I know, it doesn't have quite the heft and ferocity of 'choose adventure.' but maybe this year I am after some kind of quiet grace. the truth is, my year of adventure was busy, and expensive. it was marvelous and messy and loud; it did not apologize for itself; it was unkempt. it has left behind a wake that I've spent the last ten days trying to set to rights. I am overwhelmed by the number of things in my life: material things; things to get done; things wearing me down. I would like to be lighter on this earth. less scattering, less mess, more focus.

say it with me. simplify.
[shhh, let me tell you a secret. I am not through with adventure, hooo boy, no. I am still going to choose it; after all, the idea of a year of adventures was to change the entire terrain of my life -- not just for one year, but forever. adventure, I have not abandoned you. I have retreated only for a moment; long enough to get my bearings, straighten my affairs, perhaps take a shower ... and then pounce.]

January 9, 2010

shout out

today is Cristina's birthday !

Traviata party
Cristina shows up on this little blog a lot.

holiday eighties party 2008
Of course, that's partially because she is my roommate.

twooo more chances
Also, we work together.

But of course, I work with a lot of people, and plenty of people have roommates they never hang out with.

Nub attacks
Cristina started working at the opera at the beginning of our 2008-2009 season.

A few weeks after that, I wrote in my journal, "I think Cristina and I are going to be fast friends."

Rigoletto nom nom
Totally, totally right.

Let me tell you about her. She is awesome. She will drive you to the airport at 4 in the morning. She will make the coffee in the morning. She is up for a late night drive to the food carts. She even makes a good hangover buddy.

party hostesses
She's pretty. She lets me borrow her clothes sometimes. She listens to me even when I'm chatty. (Which is all the time).

We are celebrating her birthday in style today. I can't tell you the details because it's (sort of) a surprise.

also typical

love you, lady. I'm so glad to know you!

January 8, 2010

welcome back

hi internet. remember me? that person who's been studiously avoiding the fact that it's 2010 now? and there should be resolutions? and plans? and goals? and maybe a blog post or two?

sorry about that. I put the new year on hold for a week. I had to set my priorities. there was a party.

party mashup

last night was the company holiday party -- hollywood theme. costumes were, of course, encouraged. after struggling to think of something to do, the lady gaga idea struck me in a flash on monday afternoon. I spent the next three days bent over my desk, folding origami tulips, chaining them together with very thin wire, and then affixing them to my dress. not to mention finding the perfect fishnets, and pinning the dress up to be impossibly, scandalously short. and finding a wig with good bangs.

after tomorrow (another celebration, of a different variety), maybe then it can be 2010. until then, I'm in some sort of complicated limbo. time has ceased to exist so long as the parties last.

January 1, 2010

birthday books

I am never, ever gonna get to 100.

1. jodi picoult: my sister's keeper
2. michael shaara: the killer angels
3. jon krakauer: under the banner of heaven
4. mary roach: stiff: the curious life of human cadavers
5. harper lee: to kill a mockingbird
6. gabriel garcia marquez: love in the time of cholera
7. richard russo: empire falls
8. anita diamant: the red tent
9. lisa tucker: once upon a day
10. david wroblewski: the story of edgar sawtelle
11. lydia miller: love in infant monkeys
12. judith ortiz cofer: the meaning of consuelo
13. azar nafisi: reading lolita in tehran: a memoir in books
14. mark rashid: whole heart, whole horse

books 2010

1. david wroblewski: the story of edgar sawtelle
2. lydia miller: love in infant monkeys
3. judith ortiz cofer: the meaning of consuelo
4. azar nafisi: reading lolita in tehran
5. mark rashid: whole heart, whole horse
6. james crumley: the last good kiss
7. tao te ching, stephen addiss & stanley lombardo, trans.
8. anthony crossley: training the young horse
9. norman mailer: the executioner's song
10. richard brautigan: an unfortunate woman
11. madeleine l'engle: and both were young
12. neil gaiman: american gods
13. kate douglas smith wiggin: rebecca of sunnybrook farm
14. jeremy butterfield: damp squid: the english language laid bare
15. ronlyn domingue: the mercy of thin air
16. anna gavalda: I wish someone were waiting for me somewhere
17. sloane crosley: I was told there'd be cake