by 10 a.m.

We have a new rule at our house, and it is this: on weekends and holidays, Holly has to be playing outside by 10 a.m.

If this doesn’t happen, then most likely I am simultaneously reading the internet and thinking “I should go for a run,” in a more and more anxious, stubborn, and crabby state of mind. And not getting my daylight fix. And then I’m snapping something like “No, the oven is on for a reason,” while my family slooowly backs away.

So today I got out for my run very close to 10 a.m., and it was sunny! Sunny and muddy. On the boulevard in Eastmoreland I saw some huge five-toed footprints that I finally decided had to be from Vibrams. I predict lots of kids looking for Bigfoot in Forest Park after they see tracks like that.

Westmoreland Park was partly flooded, not that it bothered the ducks, geese, pigeons, and gulls. In case you’re wondering if birds yawn, I totally saw a gull yawning.

Today I met the roof guy and wrote him a really big check. And tonight my IPRC class starts up again. I’m going to go pack my lunch and get ready for tomorrow; it will be bedtime by the time I get home.

Memmmorry!! (you know…CATS)

At about eleven this morning I sat bolt upright on the couch. “I have to go to Ken’s and take care of the cats today!” I said to Sanguinity.

Now, Ken and Dale only left on Friday afternoon, so yesterday would have been the soonest I’d go over there. It’s fine to wait til today because they are cats. But, I did not think of Loaner Kitty and Hermi-1 once yesterday! I mean, what if they just hadn’t popped up in my brain for several more days? It seems unreal, and not like me.

I’m going over there when Sang comes home from work, with the car.

Not a lot to salvage from this day, but I did complete my first long run of the year. Six miles, for a Week One total mileage of fourteen. It was fine. I ran around the college track and listened to Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. It ended just when it was time to head home through the canyon.

I’ve walked through the canyon four times since the turn of the year, starting on New Year’s Day. I half wish I had an internet project going, posting photos every x interval and so on, but 1) I don’t need another internet project, and 2) maybe I want my acquaintance with the canyon to be more quiet than that, a gradual accretion of knowledge and familiarity. Oh, and 3) my camera is kind of big and I’ve never been that diligent at carrying and using it.

But here’s a photo from New Year’s that shows the general look of the canyon this time of year. For today, add a pair of diving ducks and the sound of Canada geese overhead, then the cawing of crows.

one-mile runs

I was so incredibly lazy the last few months and hardly ran at all. My commuter walks with friends were the bulk of my exercise. Now with my Nu Skedyool I’m running once in the morning before work, once on a weekday after work, and once (longer) over the weekend. Once a week for each of these timeslots, I can handle it, right? With additional walking two mornings and one afternoon during the week, and a hike on the non-running weekend day. But those aren’t the hard parts. The hard parts are the ones where I have to change clothes, and then move fast enough to stay warm.

Both weekday runs are going to be one mile, this week. One. Mile. But if that one mile feels good when I’m doing it, then fine. And it does. Hello, running! I maybe kind of missed you, in a weird sort of way. Okay, I did. I missed you.

Seven miles for my long run this week. That’s my basic starter run, to Mt. Tabor or through Eastmoreland and over the railyards. Or down to the college track and around a half dozen times and back. I wonder how that will feel.

Happy news, happy weekend

I got an email on Friday to say I’ve been accepted into the Independent Publishing Resource Center Certificate Program, fiction/nonfiction track! Ever since I applied I’ve been thinking about zines, letterpress (which I didn’t think I was interested in but now suddenly I am), stories, handmade boxed sets, and the cool people I’m likely to meet there. I’m psyched!

Other weekend highlights:

  • got to hang out with fourgates on his trip through town! Burgerville shakes, mooching around the Reed campus, a few episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender. It was awesome.
  • chewed over furnace replacement options– Sanguinity’s talking to the sales guy tomorrow.
  • drove up with Sang yesterday to the start/finish area for next week’s 50-mile race and the campground we’ll be staying at with Leboyfriend for two nights. It’s within walking distance of the race start, which will be handy at 5:30 a.m. Sang and I hiked a bit of the route on the PCT and marveled at tiny, crystal-clear Little Crater Lake. I feel better knowing my way around a little, and the ranger gave us helpful tips (yellow jackets are bad at the southern end of the course, and look out for ground wasps!). Now I know to carry benadryl.

I zipped through The Wolves of Willoughby Chase over the weekend– I don’t think I read it as a kid! although I had Black Hearts at Battersea on my shelf. Thoroughly satisfying tale of the evil governess, plucky orphans, and giant estate with roaming packs of wolves. It prompted me to poll people– do you like reading books set in the same season you’re living through, or the opposite? I’m an opposite girl. When it’s a hot summer day and I’m reading about snow and ice on the moors, part of the enjoyment is feeling how the author is creating the chill and making me believe it even while I’m sweating and eating popsicles.

Maybe next winter I’ll be rereading Mary Stolz’s Go and Catch a Flying Fish. I think that’s the most summery book I know.

How to Tell If You’re Lazy

I grew up lazy, and I’ve stayed lazy. I’ve always liked to eat ice cream and cake, and the line of least resistance for me has always been close to the border of sleep. When I was nine or ten, I kept an enormous mound of comic books on the floor of my bedroom, and my favorite thing was to burrow into my mound, find myself a comfortable position there, and in this wonderful swamp, which was also readable, I would reach a state that fell exactly midway between reading and napping.
Wallace Shawn, “Myself and How I Got Into the Theatre”

This post title and quote have been sitting in my drafts folder for a few weeks. I even drew a mind-map on 9″x12″ newsprint in an attempt to figure out what to say. “Lazy” is in a circle in the middle. There are other Wallace Shawn quotes, questions, phrases, reminders of anecdotes, solid lines and dotted lines all over the page to connect them.

It’s all an artifact of a couple of days when everything I thought of seemed to connect to everything else. If it had all come together, wow, what a great essay that would be. But it didn’t, and now I’m pretty sure the moment has passed. (Maybe because…I’m lazy?)

So I thought I’d just post it now, because I love the quote, and because I’m still wandering around in the fog, trying to think about discipline, willpower, schedules, rebellion, whining, stress, fatigue, time, failure, change, and laziness. And then trying not to think about them, because none of it seems very useful. I guess I’ve had a week of mostly failure. Writing time comes, and I sit there doing whatever I was doing. The hour for writing shrinks to the half hour, then is gone like the last bits of moisture from a cast-iron pan when I dry it on the stove. I just want time to stop. I have difficulty wiping my mind clean and focusing. I resent the things that steal my time, but considering they’re things like “earning a living” and “procuring food,” who do I think I am that it should all be handed to me? And when I have a chunk of time to write, I am not writing anyway!

You see how it goes, round and round. “Fighting tofu,” Writing Down the Bones calls it. (Hmm, in 1986 Natalie Goldberg felt it necessary to explain that “tofu is cheese made out of soybeans.”) I feel worn out with making myself do stuff, and with fretting. I feel like that horse in Glen Balch’s Midnight Colt that’s too high-strung to race. (Hee– the remedy for that was making him walk and walk and walk around an Idaho ranch all day, never allowed to run. He wore out three halter ropes with all his fidgets and fussing, then became a solid racehorse and won it all! Woo hoo, sign me up! Oh.)

Next week I am going to nail 12 hours of writing. I may not reach my ultimate goal of 21 hours/week until after next month’s 50-mile race. Because oh boy am I behind on that too. On Saturday I pulled on my running clothes in slow motion…sat on the couch and did nothing…filled my water bottle…sat…couldn’t force myself out the door until noon. I think I felt defeated already, and didn’t want to go through the pain and make it real. But then I did 20 miles with no knee trouble. Go figure. Now if I can just do some hill work in the next couple of weeks…

After a long stretch of kidlit and YA, it was jarring to open China Mieville’s The City & the City (the last “M” book in my alphabet project!) and start in on a murder-mystery opening much like The Black Dahlia, with a murdered woman’s body providing everyone’s investigative fodder. Not sure how I feel about that genre convention. Still, I liked some of his descriptions of police work:

Corwi did not try to disguise her police clothes because that way those who saw us, who might otherwise think we were there to entrap them, would know that was not our intent; and the fact that we were not in a bruise, as we called the black-and-blue police cars, told them that neither were we there to harass them. Intricate contracts!

And, more simply, of the lab at the station, “There were notice boards on the walls, from each of which grew thickets of papers.” Ah yes.

Forest Park 50k

I often wish that writing had events like running has races. Writing has deadlines. Ugh. Running has RACE DAY, when you wake up suddenly, eat your breakfast out of a sense of duty, line up all chilly and goose-bumped– and then you go out and do it. I haven’t found a way to feel that performance aspect in writing.

Yesterday Sanguinity and LeBoyfriend saw me off at the Forest Park 50k. I ended up walking 80 percent of the course because of knee pain, and finished only 15 minutes before the time limit. My time was something like 8 hours and 45 minutes. If it had been a training run on my own, I’m sure I would have packed it in long before 31 miles. But it was a training run (for July’s PCT 50-miler) and race day.

The time on my feet was valuable in itself, because I’ll be trundling along for 13 hours in July. I’ll just need to do it faster!

It was a lovely soft overcast day in the woods. I heard a pair of owls calling back and forth, and saw several of the little gray mice they probably love to eat. The thimbleberries are still green, but a few salmonberries were ripe. The trail was plenty muddy, but that’s spring in Portland.

The training notes I made seem so, so obvious to me now.

  • Have fresh socks and maybe a spare pair of shoes waiting at aid stations. Sometimes any pair of shoes that’s different from what’s hurting is a nice change! And once I was out of the mud-pit, clean socks would have saved my feet some abrasion.
  • Tuck a ziploc bag into a pocket to carry food away from the aid station. I was limited by the capacity of my grubby little hands, and happily would have scarfed another pop-tart or two.
  • Know the names of the trails before starting out and carry a little map. I met one unfortunate soul who had gotten turned around and did the terminal loop twice– two trips down the insane muddy slope that felt more like orienteering than a trail run. Another straggler told me she’d wandered around crying for an hour wondering if she was still on the race course. Her friends in the race had found themselves unexpectedly in a residential neighborhood somewhere. The colored-tape markings could have been better near trail intersections– but I think Forest Park also has a tape-vandalism problem. In any case, it’s silly to rely completely on markings.

A couple of times, my experience gave me the pleasant feeling of being able to cope. I went down the wrong path for a few switchbacks, but I figured it out, got back on course, and let it go. I was hours slower than I’d hoped, but except for some chagrin at keeping Sang and LeB out all day, it didn’t really get to me. That steadiness is definitely not a personality trait– it’s something that training and racing has given me, and I love it. It’s like not freaking out over free-writing or a short writing assignment: some days are better than others, no big deal.

Of course, I’m not so unflappable that I don’t love having my amazing crew to take care of me. It wasn’t until I had eaten some finish-line food and we were ready to go that Sang and LeB revealed that the car had broken down (again) and transportation home would take a bit of doing. You know you’re a real ultrarunner when your crew starts strategically keeping secrets from you!