I shared my birthday this year with Reed College, which put on its 100th Anniversary reunion celebration this weekend. I actually set foot on campus three times yesterday. My run in the morning was through the canyon, where quite a few older alumni were walking in ones and twos on the trails. Just since I was a student in 1992 there have been a lot of improvements and added trails, so I gave directions more than once. They all seemed like people I would like.
Sang and I did a walk-through in the early afternoon to see what was going on. A small Ferris wheel, tethered ballon, and ring-toss stalls were set up on the lawn with a few art projects; families were playing on the grass and the vibe was low-key picnic. All very…nice. Why do alumni not set up the naked slip and slide? Why is all the music so very inoffensive? It kind of depresses me how sanitized alumni events are compared to what goes on when the students are actually there. It feels a little fake, like a simulacrum of Reed.
We went back for the fireworks, where we met up with our friend N and also finally ran into people we knew from our freshman dorm. Up til then neither of us had recognized anyone. The fireworks at Reed are awesome! I hadn’t attended for years and forgot how close up they are. I kept being surprised I wasn’t showered with burnt paper, as I have been at Reed fireworks in the past. It was fifteen minutes, but a very full fifteen minutes. I was lying on the ground and could feel all the thumps as they went up. I am grateful that I haven’t been traumatized by anything explosive and can thoroughly enjoy fireworks. As a bonus, the dog has lost enough hearing so they don’t traumatize him anymore either! (He was at home, of course–but he used to hear them going off at Reed or the waterfront before they had even registered in my awareness.)
I also happened to read yesterday about two kidlit writers whose work didn’t take off until they were about my age. That’s always encouraging. The first was E. Nesbit, who published various things from age fifteen on, but suddenly around age 40 took quite a different tack and came out with her classic children’s stories. I found this out as I finished off The Enchanted Castle yesterday. To my commenter who recommended it after I was so disappointed by The Treasure Seekers, thank you so much! I felt wholly different about the authorial asides in this one. They didn’t seem condescending at all. I liked the book.
The other author is Patrice Kindl– I looked her up after seeing on the children’s literature listserv that she has a new title coming out soon. Owl in Love was her first book, published when she was in her early forties. It is wonderful and I want to read it again soon, but The Woman in the Wall is even closer to my heart, because I am shy and because its matter-of-fact surrealism suits me exactly.
My forties are pretty great so far. I took the day off work Friday and went to breakfast at Bar Carlo with Sanguinity and LeBoyfriend. Breakfast sandwich on brioche with avocado and egg, yum! We walked home by way of the dollar store so Sang could get birthday candles. LeB and I did the Friday NYT crossword while she got started on cake. The crossword was perfectly calibrated for us– we didn’t think we’d finish it, but then we did. How’s that for a narrative that’s boring to read but satisfying to live!
LeBoyfriend caught a bus back to his part of the city, and I headed out for a ten-mile run. My idea was to do 10 miles each day for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, then a one-shot 30-miler next weekend. As it turns out, Friday’s run at the college track was awesome, but Saturday’s was cut to seven miles for knee pain and Sunday was three miles out of time crunch and conservatism about the knee. At this point, I’m feeling fatalistic about the 50-miler. Whatever happens will happen, and there’s no point in pushing an injury in an attempt to train. I’ll still try for a good long run (and/or walk) next weekend.
The cake was a flourless chocolate number baked in ramekins and muffin cups. It had a souffle thing going on, very puffy but falling after it came out of the oven, leaving a chocolate meringue-like crust on top. Perhaps not county fair material but SO GOOD. Rich. Buttery. Dark. Chocolate. And I successfully blew out my candles, thank you. I didn’t wish for what I thought I would. But I will say no more. (I have the hardest time not discussing birthday wishes!)
On yesterday’s run I saw two large turtles in the Reed Canyon, sunning on a log, as well as a mallard pair with a very late brood of two tiny beeps. This morning on a dog walk, Sang and I watched a woodpecker (flicker, probably) go to town on a telephone pole. Can you imagine those incredible neck muscles! (say I of the fragile neck that needs daily yoga to avoid pain).
Also, fifteen minutes from now I will have met my writing time quota for this week. (I started counting on Friday, my birthday, and gave myself a head start with hours from earlier in the week. But still.) It’s a big jump. A big, big jump, and I do worry how it will cut into other parts of my life. But I’m already feeling a freedom and expansiveness because now there will be time to work on more of the ideas I’d have given up on before. I can take time to really fix things, and think about them. I’m revising a story with a deadline of June 30, and I can actually try different things without panic. I have time to tinker. Having plenty of time and plenty of work both, now that’s happiness.
Finishing off the weekend with another birthday celebration, Evan’s belated birthday sushi! I need to figure out the laundry situation too. The kitchen is in sore need of attention, and it’s so much more pleasant when Sang and I can tackle it together while reading aloud, but I guess that might have to be another day.
I hope all of you had a wonderful weekend too.