October 30, 2011

we're teching figaro. it's a comedy, but I can't get through it without crying. it's usually in one of two places, both of them in act IV -- one, a relatively insignificant moment, when figaro tricks susanna into thinking that he's trying to seduce the countess (after susanna, dressed as the countess, has tricked figaro into thinking she was trying to seduce the count); it is dark, they are lit by lanterns, and after tormenting her he finally reveals that he knows who she is. the translation of what he says is, "be at peace, my dear -- I recognized the voice I love." "my voice?" she asks, and he repeats, yes, the voice I love.

the second is the final moment, when the countess forgives the count for all he has done -- which is a lot. the forgiveness music is poignant, calm, joyous, but also maybe a little tinged with grief; there is a lot of grief in figaro, actually.

on tuesday night, of course it was dove sono that got me.



perchè mai, se in pianti e in pene per me tutto si cangiò, la memoria di quel bene dal mio sen non trapassò?
tell me about it, rosina.

October 28, 2011

even if I now saw you
only once,
I would long for you
through worlds,
worlds.

-- haiku, izumi shikibu

things right now feel almost impossible.

October 25, 2011

"watching television," marie howe

I didn't want to look at the huge white egg the mother spider dragged
along behind her, attached to her abdomen, held off the ground,

bigger than her own head--
and inside it: hundreds of baby spiders feeding off the nest,

and in what seemed like the next minute,
spinning their own webs quickly and crazily,

bumping into each other's and breaking them, then mending
and moving over, and soon they got it right:

each in his or her own circle and running around it.
And then they slept,

each in the center of a glistening thing: a red dot in ether.

Last night the moon was as big as a house at the end of the street,
a white frame house, and rising,

and I thought of a room it was shining in, right then,
a room I might live in and can't imagine yet.

And this morning, I thought of a place on the ocean where no one is,
no boat, no fish jumping,

just sunlight gleaming on the water, humps of water that hardly break.

I have argued bitterly with the man I love, and for two days
we haven't spoken.

We argued about one thing, but really it was another.
I keep finding myself standing by the front windows looking out at the
street

and the walk that leads to the front door of this building,
white, unbroken by footprints.

Anything I've ever tried to keep by force I've lost.

October 23, 2011

I'd never have believed I'd see a wife of mine doting on a child of mine. It still amazes me every time I think of it. I'm writing this in part to tell you that if you ever wonder what you've done in your life, and everyone does wonder sooner or later, you have been God's grace to me, a miracle. You may not remember me very well at all and it may seem to you no great thing to have been the good child of an old man in a shabby little town you will no doubt leave behind. If only I had words to tell you.
-- marilynne robinson, gilead

there are many, many moments when I still think, if only we could just take a walk together; if only I could turn to you, my hair blowing in my face, and smile, and laugh. and make you laugh. I think, I wish we could dance in your living room. I wish we could tell jokes to each other, each sillier than the last. I wish I could say, 'you know what we should do?' and then do it. I wish I could sing to you. I wish we could arm wrestle. I would lose, as always.

in almost every way, life is so much better now than it's been in a long time. there is (or will be) enough money. there are friends. in general, I manage to be happy. I needed the bottom to drop out to get here, and although it's hard, I forgive myself for that. because it was so hard to climb out. I think there was no other way.

there are days that are still such a struggle. today is one. I don't know how to verbalize my continued sorrow. figaro is so beautiful, and here I am in rehearsal, under the flood lights, the violins sawing mercilessly away, and I've had to leave once already to cry in the bathroom. because I can't just flip whatever internal on/off switch I sometimes wish existed. it's just -- god, I wish we could play. this is the thing I want to give to you. this is the hard side of happiness. to be here without you. I keep trying to give it to you anyway. I try because there are no other words in the world I can use to tell you.

I wish I could leave you certain of the images in my mind, because they are so beautiful that I hate to think they will be extinguished when I am. Well, but again, this life has its own mortal loveliness. And memory is not strictly mortal in its nature, either. It is a strange thing, after all, to be able to return to a moment, when it can hardly be said to have any reality at all, even in its passing. A moment is such a slight thing, I mean, that its abiding is a most gracious reprieve.
-- gilead

October 22, 2011

rockstar

ETA: official time: 21:53! 2nd in my age group, 5th woman, 24th place overall.

here, have a laugh at my face!

scary finish face!

21:5x (exact time TBA) in this morning's 5K. I might have shed one tiny thrilled tear just after I crossed the finish line. my goals were, in prioritized order, as follows:

1. break PR (24:03)
2. break 23 minutes
3. look sweet in my new shoes.

nowhere on there do you see "break 22 minutes," but THERE IT IS, PEOPLE. I feel like one hundred million dollars. ONE HUNDRED MILLION. perhaps even two hundred million.

I finally ran a smart race: a 7:37 first mile, then a 7:15ish average for the rest of the race. I don't have the final mile split because I forgot to hit the reset button on my watch, and my overall average time was thrown off by forgetting to hit the stop button AGAIN at the end of the race. BUT THAT'S OKAY. BECAUSE NOW I'VE GOT A 21-MINUTE 5K.

the first mile I probably checked my watch 30 times, because I started out at a 6:30 pace and had to talk myself down for the first 300 meters or so. "no, slower." "no, SERIOUSLY, slower." the opening pace felt so easy that it was really good I had my garmin or I would have killed it too early. I let myself open it up a little once I passed the one mile mark -- and it's an indication of how good I felt that I assumed the "1" was 1 KILOMETER until I checked my GPS.

in mile two I tried to stop looking at my damn wrist every four seconds and just aimed for holding steady, feeling relaxed, and pretending it was just a training run.

in the last mile we left the official race track and took a detour around the grounds, which turned out to be a good distraction. I passed a bunch of people who'd gone out too fast, and I felt a little bad about it. don't I know how that is, eh?

just after I passed a high school xc kid, his coach said, "you're a sprinter now! time to go!" and I thought, sir, that is music to my ears. I realized we were pretty close to the finish so I gunned it. we had to go around a set of bleachers to reach the track and my only regret is not having more of the track to finish on, because it's only once I can see the finish that I turn on the turbo. just as I could make out the clock (I was running too fast to look at my watch), I realized it said 21:52 and I did in fact say, out loud, "NO NO NO NO" and then turned on all the engines and motored in to finish under 22. UNDER 22!

it may be a testament to how much faster I could probably have run that I did not dry heave at the end of this race. I always dry heave. seriously. gross, but true. any time I sprint the finish like that, I have one terrible moment where I think I'm gonna boot it all over the grass, and then I'm good.

which is to say, of course now I'm thinking, I could probably break 21. since I've been running, on average, a paltry 10-15 miles a week and have incorporated absolutely zero speedwork.

anyway, let's enjoy the moment, let's not get ahead of ourselves.

I'm very proud of this:

5K pace average

steady!

now I'm gonna go eat a plate of bacon and chestbump a stranger BECAUSE I CAN

October 21, 2011

autumn

as I came out from the grocery store this morning, coffee and a pie in my hand, I thought, it's a beautiful morning. it was overcast and cloudy, cool. this is called progress.

tomorrow morning I'll wake up very early and strap on my bright orange shoes to try and break my personal record in the 5K. it is not a very big deal -- I'm not tremendously fast, I haven't really been training for it, and there are a million other 5Ks -- but nonetheless I find myself thinking like a competitor. I always forget how much I love to race.

I've turned every possible stone in the search for my bike. I even tried emailing the previous owner -- thanks to gmail, I still had her address -- to see if she had a record of the serial number, but she didn't. I still read the bike ads on craigslist every day, but I believe all hope is lost.

in the garden, there is so much work to be done. at the end of the summer I harvested what I could, but let things turn to chaos. weeds abound. the tomatillos were positively outrageous. surprisingly, it will be a relief to put it to bed for the winter. there will still be brussels sprouts (hopefully, if I can conquer the aphids), and kale, and herbs. everything else will lay dormant, or die. much has already been composted. the peppers, stubbornly, as if they don't know any better, continue to produce flowers. I pulled the tomatoes just the other day, and inhaled for one last moment the sweet spicy smell of the vine. now months will go by before I smell it again.

in the meantime, there are 25 pounds of unripe tomatoes on my kitchen counter. or, I should say, counters. and windowsills. and in bowls.

despite my best efforts, I find myself sleeping in the dent in the middle of the bed.

life moves forward. some things remain a mystery. but others -- others I feel a strange certainty about, for absolutely no reason at all.

October 17, 2011

full weekend

PHEW, people. sweet jesus.

thursday
I ran the final fit right nw adventure run of the year. you have an hour to run to various businesses around town to pick up raffle tickets, and then hope you win something. it was a short route this time, or maybe I just strategized better. I had a pair of very lightweight shoes on trial for the evening, and I don't know if it was that or the good mood I was in or just things finally coming together, but I ran the absolute crap out of the route. I felt like I was just flying. I hit every stop, stopped at the restroom, and was back to the start by 6:35. I managed to be the very first one to stop at one of the locations, and was among the first 10 to finish. seriously -- crazy. I obviously looked as fast as I felt: not long after I came back, a guy approached me and asked me how fast my mile splits were, because he'd passed me a few times out on the road and I looked like I was cruising. I had no idea, because I never stopped my watch during the run, so my recorded pace was affected by all the stops I made. he ended up standing and chatting with me for the entire raffle drawing, invited me to a group run, and gave me his number (unsolicited). there was no un-awkward way of saying, "sorry, unfortunately I'm still in love with my ex and 100% not into dating, but thanks anyway."

THEN! I won the first raffle prize of the night, a free entry to the Hot Buttered Run!

THEN!! I bought some cake pops and fetched my sister from the airport. we caught up for awhile, had a hilarious series of misadventures trying to inflate the air mattress, and went to bed.

friday
I dropped D at spin class and went to work. she hung out downtown with a friend while I went to lunch with my boss and the general director. then, stuffed full of huevos rancheros, dayna and I went running shoe shopping, where she promptly convinced the sales guy to give me 10% off one pair of shoes (I bought 2 pairs; the other pair was already on sale) AND to throw in the very comfortable sample socks I was wearing for free.

my new shoes are REAL PRETTY. shoes got very bright and shiny and happy while I was injured.

d4a11a68d2c5bd69dc5e0281b6b487d0
e8f0d380112c66f1f6ce6ec0ed782443

then I dragged her down to the barn so I could feed; she got an impromptu lesson on how to feed apples to big doofy horses from a barn friend. we bought fancy nail kits and candy, tried on costumes (see previous post), and went home to order pizza, watch TV, and do our nails.

i'm pretty

I was ready to crash by 9.

saturday
we ran the second in team red lizard's stumptown cross series, the first of which I reviewed a few weeks ago. dayna's hip was acting up, so she called it a day at the 2 mile mark, but fortunately she still got her money's worth -- they called her number in the raffle and she won a free race shirt. :)

afterwards we hit the nike outlet, showered, and spent most of the afternoon wandering up and down nw 23rd, ogling boots and jewelry and a bunch of weird stuff at this amazing little vintage/antique/weird pop-up store.

world's creepiest hamburgler
side tricep.

not pictured: E.T. jewelry, N*sync MARIONETTE (no joke), crocheted penis sling (also no joke).

we also hit the peculiarium.

normal.

we tried to get some salmon chowder down at stanford's, only to discover they'd closed, so we ended up getting burgers at hopworks and then coming home and crashing.

sunday
we went to bikram. the room was 111 degrees (seriously) and although the heat didn't bother me, I'm quite certain I've never produced so much sweat in my life. after class I was 2 pounds lighter than when I'd woken up.

then we went to dim sum and ate NOODLES. and chicken feet.

chicken foot.

then we drove out to the nike employee store in beaverton, where dayna could get in without an employee pass because she has a military I.D. I dropped her off and got a coffee. we were hoping to score some sweet stuff (everything is 50% off retail) but most of it was still too expensive to be worth it.

then we came home, talked about our emo high school years, and drove around singing ace of base -- as sung by the chipmunks. (this is an actual thing). we ate pancakes and bacon for dinner. we watched extreme makeover: home edition. then we went to bed. (OK, I went to bed).

then I stuck her on a plane at 6 this morning and came home to crash. I tweaked something in my neck -- this is the second time this year -- and I can't turn my head. the pain is coming from a terrifically bad knot in my neck and shoulder, and radiates up my head, down my arm, and into my back. it's awesome!

up this week:
put the garden to bed
ride the horse
run some miles
try and kill my 5K PR at saturday's race
orchestra rehearsal
do something with the massive amount of unripe tomatoes in my kitchen (over 20 pounds, I think)
burger date

say a prayer for me.

October 15, 2011

shenanigans

things are off to a promising start.

IMAG0317

October 13, 2011

y'all, this blog has gotten SO SERIOUS. although my life these days does consist largely of loose buddhism, intense introspection, and the constant struggle to figure out the best ways to love others, I swear things are occasionally lively.

here, have a picture of me and figaro.

artist with cat

he's our costume shop cat. I wrote more about him here.

my sister comes to town tonight. there will be shenanigans. stay tuned.

October 10, 2011

turbulence

there has been a lot going on lately, and I've been struggling to figure out how to write about it, or, for that matter, if I want to write about it at all. the last week or two have been full: of meaning, of learning, of forgiveness, of longing, of worry, of hope. of compassion and love. some of it I've talked about; some of it I haven't. can't. won't.

I guess here is something I can say. I'm so very much not the same person I was on august 1. it continues to surprise me how quickly a person can alter herself. on august 1 I had a live-in boyfriend, was loafing away the last of my summer, was homesick and depressed and sad, lost, stuck. I did not know what I had. I did not think I would lose it. and I could not see a way out.

now, I've learned what it is to lose the thing you didn't know you loved most. I've learned a thing or two about friendship -- a lesson I seem to always learn most in times of great sorrow. I've discovered how much people will give you if you let them, if you just open your hands and take it. I've discovered how much easier it is to give back.

today, out running in the rain, the smell of everything was amplified. bark mulch, tree branches, asphalt. the world smelled good. I hadn't wanted to run -- so grey, so wet, so gloomy -- but once I got outside I discovered it wasn't so bad. it was actually pretty warm, and misty, not raining. and then, the world presented me with this little olfactory gift. I ran sprints down the length of the floating bridge on the east side, and on the west side I took the steps two at a time.

I fear returning to the person I was on august 1. she had everything I want right now, but she didn't know it. it's mind-blowing to think of it that way, actually. maybe it goes to show how much has changed, that if you gave to me today everything I had on august 1, I could not imagine wanting for a single other thing.

if you offered me everything I had before, it would be the greatest gift I can possibly imagine. I would break into tears of joy.

I said to a certain someone just after the breakup that I wished I could time travel, to tell myself what was about to happen, to save everything. I also wished that there was a future me, a happy me, who also was wishing she could time travel, so that she could come back and tell me it would all be okay. truth be told, I still wish for both things. these days I'm somewhere in the middle, I suppose. these days, if you could fly me back, I would hold that girl's hand and say, "you must learn to open your eyes and see what it is you've got right here, all around you. things are so much more beautiful than you realize; you have to learn to recognize what's right in front of you." I would say, be kinder, be gentler, be patient. take a breath. open your heart.

life right now is pretty overwhelming. a lot of things are nebulous and intensely personal. they don't involve only me. people I love are hurting and lost, and it's hard to know how to help them. some days I'm overcome by the force of my own emotions, and I scramble all over myself to figure out how to cope. there's a lot going on -- rehearsals, deadlines, the changing weather, the dying garden, the horse, the running, the injury (ever present), money, time, energy. many plates, few hands. dealing with the turmoil is, in some moments, all-consuming. I can't tell you how much I yearn, in some moments, for the force of my love for my people to be able to knock down walls, to bridge gaps, to close distances. to heal wounds. to bring forgiveness and hope. all we can do, though, is pour love into the cracks and wait.

as for the future self I still wish for; well, that hasn't changed at all. I still want her to tell me it will all work out; that love will find a way.

October 8, 2011

eulogy

So that this will seem like words between
old friends, I’ll say it was painless.
And quick. I’ll say it was mercy
and behind my face where I put
things like The Truth and dreams about
supernovae, I’ll try to mean it.
But it was his time, we should all admit.
Shouldn’t we, who loved him
the way we love traffic
and cell phones during spectacular sex
and the degradations of puberty,
shouldn’t we all feel
as though light were swelling within us,
inflaming us? Tell me where
you were when you heard
but tell me later, much later,
the kind of later mathematicians get excited about.
By then memory will have torn
away from my body like a scab
I’ll no longer have to pick at
and I’ll listen to you like a stethoscope.
It will be good for my heart.
It will be good for your heart.
In the air of that deferred spring
we’ll be healthy, speaking
of an ancient wound neither of us
really remember, except
that by starlight we promised
to honor this question mark
in the periodic sentence of our lives.
Whatever you say, remember
that we cried. The dead love that we weep,
that we stain ourselves with
salt, that we become for a moment
indistinguishable from the sea,
that our shining faces rock with grief.

-- paul guest

mom's birthday 2001

we've gone six years without you. there is nothing else to say. I still remember at the wake, all the photos we'd found up on the board. pictures of me at age eleven, with my wild hair, riding on your back; pictures of all of us after one of my recitals, or ashley's swimming lessons, or travis's baseball games. "he was so proud of you," a total stranger said to me, standing by the casket. I had not really had a clue.

time passes and we learn to move on, but stevie, we miss you as much as ever.

October 6, 2011

lately

- drinking too much coffee for my own good
- wearing rainbow tube socks, a gift from my BFF

IMAG0290

- experimenting with a new blog layout, then deleting it, then breaking my blog, then being very frustrated with breaking my blog, and then putting it all back the way it was originally and throwing up my hands
- watching a lot of korean tv. I can't even explain this to you
- numbering measures in Figaro orchestra parts, which means writing the measure number at the start of each line of music, which means counting each measure. which means having counted 73,406 measures of music in less than a week, that is the honest to god real number
- taking a deep breath and accepting the rain
- working too much to run, some days
- reaching out as much as I can, as hard as I can, to the people I love
- trying to get The Horse back into some sort of rideability after more than two months of not riding
- and then trying to find someone to lease said horse
- extensive writing: next season's opera brochure, this season's studio artist recital postcard, the opera blog, oregonlive's running blog, this blog
- extensive editing: the season brochure, the season guide, the next opera program, study guides for the season, the curriculum for the outreach tour, the opera blog, this blog
- worrying about the aphids eating all my beautiful heirloom brussels sprouts, without actually doing anything about it
- nearly eating a lot of small bugs, in the form of ants in my kitchen, fruit flies in my wine, and aphids on my kale. barf.
- continuing to troll the craigslist bike ads for my stolen bianchi, and to eyeball every cyclist who passes by
- trying to figure out how to preserve all the tomatoes without the tedious process of canning
- dreaming revealing dreams: being shot in the heart (twice, at point blank range); stealing my bike back in the middle of downtown; being eaten by sharks; trying to bike the marathon course and getting lost, stuck on a bridge.
- longing

things are relentlessly busy. it's okay. I put my head down and look at the next thing and go. yesterday I worked from home, bundled in blankets in the living room, refusing to turn on the heat despite the damp cold. today I'm tired, and worried about my people. the worry doesn't do anything useful, but I can't help it.

October 4, 2011

Six horses died in a tractor-trailer fire.
There. That's the hard part. I wanted
to tell you straight away so we could
grieve together. So many sad things,
that's just one on a long recent list
that loops and elongates in the chest,
in the diaphragm, in the alveoli. What
is it they say, heart-sick or downhearted?
I picture a heart lying down on the floor
of the torso, pulling up the blankets
over its head, thinking this pain will
go on forever (even though it won't).
The heart is watching Lifetime movies
and wishing, and missing all the good
parts of her that she has forgotten.
The heart is so tired of beating
herself up, she wants to stop it still,
but also she wants the blood to return,
wants to bring in the thrill and wind of the ride,
the fast pull of life driving underneath her.
What the heart wants? The heart wants
her horses back.

-- "downhearted," ada limón

two of my favorite people on earth are simultaneously getting their hearts broken tonight. and here I am, a thousand miles away from one and three thousand miles from the other. I've been thinking hard these past few days about the path of love, and compassion, and forgiveness -- how much peace they bring, how they seem hard but for me, lately, have brought only relief -- but all of that feels so hard to say now when my sister and my best friend are both in the first terrible raw stage of grief. and here I am, so far away.

so many times in the past four days I have wished for a benevolent force in the universe, not for myself but for the most beloved of my people. so that the love I have for them might wind its way through the world when I can't be there to hold them myself. I curl up in bed and think, 'maybe if I just love REALLY HARD, it will reach you.' may this please, on some level, be true. may you out there who are hurting, who are struggling, whom I desperately love -- may you know it, may you feel it, may the magnitude of my desire to make you feel better reach you somehow, calm your poor sad exhausted heart.

October 1, 2011

"Other Lives and Dimensions and Finally A Love Poem," Marie Howe

My left hand will live longer than my right. The rivers
of my palms tell me so.
Never argue with rivers. Never expect your lives to finish
at the same time. I think

praying, I think clapping is how hands mourn. I think
staying up and waiting
for paintings to sigh is science. In another dimension this
is exactly what's happening,

it's what they write grants about: the chromodynamics
of mournful Whistlers,
the audible sorrow and beta decay of "Old Battersea Bridge."
I like the idea of different

theres and elsewheres, an Idaho known for bluegrass,
a Bronx where people talk
like violets smell. Perhaps I am somewhere patient, somehow
kind, perhaps in the nook

of a cousin universe I've never defiled or betrayed
anyone. Here I have
two hands and they are vanishing, the hollow of your back
to rest my cheek against,

your voice and little else but my assiduous fear to cherish.
My hands are webbed
like the wind-torn work of a spider, like they squeezed
something in the womb

but couldn't hang on. One of those other worlds
or a life I felt
passing through mine, or the ocean inside my mother's belly
she had to scream out.

Here when I say "I never want to be without you,"
somewhere else I am saying
"I never want to be without you again." And when I touch you
in each of the places we meet

in all of the lives we are, it's with hands that are dying
and resurrected.
When I don't touch you it's a mistake in any life,
in each place and forever.