Tuesday, December 9, 2008


No, not the weather. and not the proverbial "when it rains it pours", in any sense (jobs, training, etc).

Cats and dogs.

or Cat. and not dog.

The cat is old. And getting frail. It's heartbreaking, really. She was our "starter cat", a semi-feral who eventually became sufficiently comfortable with us, and us with her, that the adoption was a gentle meld rather than an event. She was the "little gray gato" who lived in the backyard, who slowly was coaxed into the house, and over time became an indoor only cat. She's my first pet since I reached adulthood; she predates our marriage although not our living-in-sin.

She hated that we brought in another stray, one who wrapped my heart around his paw in a fashion I can't ever describe. He's been gone 3 years, victim of a cancer that glued his organs together.

She blossomed as an only cat.

And then we brought home the young Turk, a supposedly reserved young man-cat who is domineering and sweet and completely insane.

and now the cat is old. and frail. her spinal discs are degenerating. It's not her time yet -- her pain is well controlled, and her life is not so bad. But my heart, once thought so safe from the starter cat, hurts to think of the decision, to know that it's not so very far in the future.

the cat is old. I hate that.

so cat. but not dog.

I always believed myself to be a dog person. and I am. or a cat-and-dog person, at any rate. I miss canine companionship, immensely.

El Bandito and I live in an expensive city full of hills. and we rent, because even with his income, we can't afford to buy in this painted town. Finding a place that took cats and was decent took us almost a year. There's no way that, in this lifestyle and this location, we can have a dog.

Nor do we have time enough for the dog we'd want. Trapeze eats my free time. My job is uncertain. Meanwhile, we both work full time and the days seem too short. The dog deserves better than that.

But I dream of the sound of claws clicking on hardwood floors, the snuffle of a wet dog nose searching my pocket for treats. I want to bury my face in fur, to throw toys long past my shoulder's parameters, and feel the tug on the other end of the leash.

Other women want children. I just want ... a dog.

and for pets to be young and healthy forever.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

pelicans, pavement, and persimmons

There aren't enough 4-day weekends on the calendar.

This year, our chosen family of friends was scattered for the Thanksgiving holiday (and our actual families thousands of miles away). We thought about skipping it altogether, but eventually chose to go out to dinner. Parts of the special Thanksgiving menu were fabulous; other parts were "eh". It was, however, a nice ending to a lazy Thanksgiving which included sleeping in, a good walk, and longish phone conversations with family. (This year, however, they fortunately didn't itemize every dish on the table, like my father did one year while I was in college and stuck in the dorms for Thanksgiving. It wasn't a kindness.)

Then there was the bike ride which beat me in to submission. Stupid hills. But I didn't stop, and I consider that a minor victory.

Today though... today was one of those days where you just inhale the sweetness. We drove up the coast for lunch: fresh crab sandwiches and clam chowder by the marina, with a cool breeze and warm sunshine. The whole day had that low, slanting autumn light that makes everything look like you're in a movie, and it was a beautiful drive. Lunch was followed by a walk along the coast, watching pelicans skim the frothy surf. There was fog coming in; combined with the slanting sun it made everything look quite dramatic. El Bandito and I stopped and stared at the hawks hunting in the haze.

We got home late afternoon, and after some lazing about, I cleaned the fridge and headed out for a pre-dinner run.

Now I've got a full stomach, there's cranberry-persimmon bread baking in the oven, and I've an entire additional weekend day to enjoy tomorrow.

Meanwhile, in the tradition of the season, some things I'm thankful for:
  • El Bandito. A decade of marriage has only improved things. I'm thankful every day to have such a wonderful partner, who encourages me, who makes me giggle, who supports me in so many ways. I lucked out.
  • Family and friends. I'm something of an introvert, but I've got fabulous friends. and family that I count as friends. Not everyone feels the same.
  • Trapeze.
  • Furry felines, and people who let me play with their dogs
  • Playtime.
  • Ice cream. Who thought of that? Ditto wine.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


part of the blessing/curse of being a redhead is bruising easily.

I counted seven bruises on my legs this morning.
at least 3 of them are from trying new things on the trapeze -- and it feels good to be trying *new* things again.

2 are from running into things when locking up my bike on days I commute by bike (most).

the others are a mystery.

I don't really mind. El Bandito thinks bruises are attractive -- not the multishades of hematoma, but the fact that they represent a willingness to attempt things. (we'll ignore the clutz factor).

I've been stepping up the job hunt, so I feel a little bruised mentally. It's hard work trying to decide what I want to do. Stepping outside my comfort zone athletically is enough of a challenge; doing so professionally is important but equally terrifying. And convincing other people that I'm qualified to do so? Scary stuff.

In other notes, Thanksgiving is approaching. We seem to be planning on ignoring the holiday. Our quirky oven is too small to properly roast a turkey, and our usual assemblage of friends all have assorted unpredictable plans this year. So, there will be a bike ride -- we'll keep that tradition (or substitute a long rambling walk). But I'm still grateful. Giving thanks and appreciating friends and family doesn't need to be limited to one specified holiday. I've got a good life, bruises and all.

Monday, November 10, 2008

hazy lazy adventure

Scene: living room, NYT magazine crossword on lap
time: early afternoon, a partly sunny Sunday

El Bandito: So, would you like to go for a walk?

You must now momentarily close your eyes and imagine a border collie offered that option. Spinning around in cirlces by the front door wondering what's taking the silly man so long.

My shoes were on in less time than it took to type this sentence.

Through the park, along with the skaters and cyclists and runners out enjoying their weekend.
By one of the LBS to grab a replacement inner tube.
Up a big hill for the view. Down through random streets and stairways.

I kept waiting for that jingling sound of change in the pocket that signals El Bandito's ready to grab a bus back towards home... and not hearing it.

next stop: ice cream

and then walk continued, through the gritty sunny district and past the industrial warehouses. over another hill. A stop for coffee.

and suddenly we were veering into a large sporting goods and outdoor store; now my bike wears a shiny silver bell I can used to alert folks I'm passing in the crowded park.

continuing towards the waterfront -- another detour, for a late-afternoon beer at the pub.

strolling along the waterfront, watching the tourists and residents alike enjoying the hints of sunset and oncoming twilight.

we topped the afternoon off with perfect public transit timing.

it was like my day was sprinkled with magic pixie dust. a series of small, random adventures connected by the path of my feet.

8.3 miles of urban exploration, initiated by one random query. A great way to spend a lazy Sunday.

Friday, October 31, 2008

ghost stories

Halloween used to be one of my favorite holidays. There was something about the silliness of costumes, the traditions, and a general sense of fun that just made me like it.

Over the years, I've lost the spark -- going out for Halloween just isn't appealing. I don't want to spend the energy on costuming. Or watching amateurs drink themselves stupid.

In a way, I miss it. I miss living in a neighborhood where the kids actually trick-or-treat. I always liked handing out candy and seeing the costumes. I miss hanging out with my official "best friend" (a childhood designation that still holds water) -- Halloween was an anniversary of sorts for us in those early years of friendship. Her mother died a few weeks ago, and I hate being on the other side of the country and helpless. So there are the ghosts in this post -- memories.

On the other hand, it meant I went to a conditioning class for aerial work tonight. All the abs, stretching, rope-climbing, pullups and pushups are far more satisfying than any costume party could be. Another exciting Friday night workout -- and there's no taunting Halloween candy in the house.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

lucky number 13*

12.9 miles.
on my bicycle.

my lovely, wonderful, commuter bicycle, complete with rack, generator headlight and fenders.

It's the longest ride I've taken in well over a year, since before my shoulder surgery. The longest on this bike ever. (It, while excellent for commuting, is not exactly light -- I think I need to get a road bike for real rides).

for many of my imaginary internet readers, that's just a warm-up.

but it still feels like an accomplishment.

For the week:
walking -- 12.5 miles
running -- 2.9 miles**
bicycling -- 30 miles
trapeze -- 1.5 hours
core and strength conditioning -- 2.5 hours
shoulder exercises -- daily

* There's a decently-divish bar in San Francisco with the name Lucky 13.

** Last night I met a friend after work for "a run". She's on week 2 of couch-potato-to-5k, and I let her set the pace. I'm counting this as walking, as it turned out I could walk as fast as she was moving. We're doing it again next week.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

driving a hard bargain...

I bargain with myself when exercising. It's a pretty good deal, since usually it makes me push myself harder. Tonight, I really didn't want to run. I was feeling lazy and I'd left work later than I'd intended. I'd been trying to figure out how to do something all afternoon, and it finally clicked about 10 minutes before I intended to leave.

So I promised myself I only had to do a mile. I could quit after a mile. Something > nothing. Of course, I did more than that, because I reached a mile and I still didn't want to be running but I also had no compelling reason to quit.

Besides, I got up on Sunday morning and headed out to cheer for 21cmom in the Nike Women's Half Marathon. Despite the roughness of the course map, I managed to find my way to the spot where the full and the half diverged, and hang out cheering on runners until she came along. (Sadly, I'm pretty sure from her splits that Juls (Keeping Pace) passed me while I was there, but I didn't recognize her in the sea of TNT purple). Seeing that many people running on a Sunday morning was inspiring, and seeing 21cmom is always enjoyable, even if I only tagged along with her for a few hundred yards. I'm glad I got out there, even if the previous night's dinner date with El Bandito had a little more wine than optimal for getting up on a cloudy Sunday.

My trapeze skills are slowly improving. I'm frustrated, so very frustrated, by all the things I used to be able to do that are still past my current level of strength and agility post-surgery. ButI am making progress and it's important for me to reiterate that to myself. Especially since I feel rather like I'm simply treading water in so many ways.

I didn't get the job that I mentioned previously. It would have been a real stretch; I think I would have enjoyed the challenge but it was also damn intimidating. All-in-all, however, the application and interview was a good experience. Now, if only there were some equally appealing ads out there right now. There will be something, or I'll pursue more freelance opportunities.

In the meantime, I keep bargaining with myself.

Friday, October 3, 2008


One year ago today, I had major shoulder surgery. I woke up far too early, didn't have coffee, and had the best surgical experience of my life (n=9 or 10) in terms of care, anesthesia, and analgesia.

I thought I was prepared. My surgeon had given me guidelines; my husband and I had had lots of conversations about how, when, where, what. I knew that it would be 2 months before I was allowed to run; 3 months before I could bike. My surgery was not a typical one -- no rotator cuff, biceps tendon, or labral repairs for me. No, I had to have the rare one, a capsular shift and HAGL repair -- which involved cutting open my otherwise healthy rotator cuff to reach the problem areas.

I didn't really understand just how much of an impact it would be on my life. Losing the use of your dominant arm for 6 weeks? Extremely frustrating. For the first week, things were measured in invisible increments. On day 2, I walked to the corner. on day 3, the corner + 1 block. On day 8, I was allowed to shower, although it was a scary experience. Dressing required help. Eating was messy and one-handed. My meals were cut up for me like I was 5 (which I am, internally).

On day 27, I went back to work. Early. And sooner than I ought to have, but I was going stir-crazy at home, seeing all the things I could/should do and not being able to do them.

Three months in, I took my first bike ride. Slow and tentative. Witha mild stomach flu, but I damn well wasn't going to postpone it.
Four months in, I was allowed in the pool.

It was roughly 6 months before I got clearance to hang from my arms. A simple hang, not anything complicated.

The surgery threatened my sense of autonomy, and my sense of identity.

I fell in love with trapeze after I started in 2003. The endorphins, the focus, the strength. Being an arealist, albeit an amateur one, was one of my defining traits. The shoulder surgery changed that. It took trapeze out of my vocabulary. It made me dependent on El Bandito for simple things like tying my damn shoes. I could do a pullup before I could easily put on a sports bra. I couldn't imagine not doing trapeze again, but I dreaded the steps involved in returning. And before that, I needed help doing such simple things.

It hasn't been easy. I'm back in class this session, but at a much lower level than previously. Good for not taxing my shoulder, and for not learning bad habits. Bad in that it's frustrating me. I end up demonstrating tricks and trying things I once knew how to do, not learning new things at this point.

I'm running to get my endorphin high. It helps, but it isn't the satisfaction of learning a new trick. It's a different focus, a different meditation.

It's been a hard year. A very good one in some respects, but a hard one. I'm lucky to have had an incredibly supportive spouse through it all. El Bandito has been terrific. A few friends stuck through, but it's also amazing how much people don't realize that a simple phone call or email expressing interest helps.

Tonight, I might skip my shoulder PT for the first time in a year. The exercises have changed, of course, but I haven't missed a single day. Part discipline, part fear, part need to control as much of the outcome as possible.

Rambling. Tonight I did intervals on the treadmill. Fast, furious sprints, interspersed with calm walking. I breathed in and out, feeling the swing of my arm with the cadence of my feet. It was enough, in the moment. Then I came home and put on my favorite boots (and my pants which have become too big somehow) and El Bandito took me out for a fabulous dinner. So WTF am I complaining about?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

breathing space

Soon I'll hear whether or not I got the job I interviewed for last week. Then comes the equally tough decision as to whether to take it; I think I probably will if offered but it's a very different direction. Different from where I've been, certainly. Potentially different from the things I've thought about as "next steps", which are many and varied. It's exciting to consider, if nothing else. Interviewing brought back a sense of competence and ability and "ballsy attitude" that I'd somehow misplaced over the last few years. That's not to say I'm a wallflower, by any means, but I felt more confident in that interview than I would have predicted.

Hmmm. Considering that I said in my intro post that I wasn't going into details about career transitions, I'm babbling rather a lot about this process. Ah well.

On a different note, in the month of September, I've traveled over 100 miles on foot -- and an additional 40+ miles by bicycle, and then there's planes and automobiles, and if you count light rail, trains. Some of that was fabulous hiking with El Bandito in the Canadian Rockies, visiting alpine lakes and scrambling up goat trails. Some was commuting. Some was wandering with a friend exploring any number of random conversational topics. Too little of it was running, but even walking there's a meditation in the footfalls and heartbeats.

I'm avoiding blogging about politics. There are plenty of intelligent & thoughtful voices that I could only wish to emulate, but I find the fury grows too quickly. Suffice it to say that this election gives me greater hope than many I can remember, but also terrifies me at a level I can't express.

100+ miles.
Now I just have to relearn how to breathe while in the water.
Meanwhile, tomorrow I get to hang upside down from my heels. I love trapeze!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

the things that make you you

I started to title this "RollerCoaster Week". It's still only Thursday, so I can't declare "Yippee in a puddle it's Friday! (www.dailycoyote.net)", but the week had alternately sped and stalled. Fortunately or unfortunately, I've never been on a rollercoaster, but I think I grasp the concept.

I had my first real job interview on Tuesday. Monday nights are my "alone evening", when my fabulous spouse is busy filling his brain with a foreign language. Instead of stressing too badly about the interview, I managed to make it a pleasant evening. Came home, threw on appropriate clothing, and went for a wog (walk-jog-walk). Not far enough, not fast enough, but better than nothing. Followed it up with 20 minutes of Pilates while dinner cooked. By the time El Bandito (pseudonym for my most adored husband) returned, I was nicely relaxed and full of tasty soup. He's been a trooper, helping me shop for interview-wear (Apparently, I'm a "guy" when it comes to shopping. I can happily search for the best mitre saw for hours, but buying clothing? MISERABLE) and being about the best confidence booster possible. The interview on Tuesday went well, I think -- first there was the usual public transit clusterf**k, but I managed to squeak in punctually. I enjoyed the interview, and I'm pretty sure I didn't completely blow it. There may well be a better-qualified candidate, but I do feel as if I gave it a good shot. We'll see.

The title of this post ended up coming from a conversation I had with one of my circus friends, who does some absolutely fabulous single-point trapeze ( www.sweetcanproductions.com ). She's been helping me find my way back to the trapeze after major shoulder surgery, and somehow the conversation turned to bruises and muscle soreness. About how I woke up one recent morning and felt the soreness in my body and felt so pleased -- sometimes, pain reminds us that we're doing the things we truly love. Sometimes, the soreness says "yes, I tried. and yes, I got it!" I've got black-n-blue marks from doing trapeze tricks for the very first time in a year, and I ache. And I love it. This pain? I embrace it. It tells me that I'm using my body. That I'm twisting, turning, and pulling in ways I'd almost forgotten were possible. That soreness? It tells me that I'm *alive*, that I've pushed my limits and loved every second of it, even while cursing.

Isn't that what living is about?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Some random numbers from our vacation:

5 -- marmots seen in one day of hiking
2 -- moose, seen another day
900 -- meters of elevation gained (and then re-lost) on our first day of hiking
between 3 and infinity -- number of inside jokes generated or recalled
too many -- peanut butter sandwiches and/or granola bars and/or Clif bars
~100 -- kilometers hiked
6 -- the cost for 2 teens (see inside jokes)
1 -- job interview request via email
many -- freakouts regarding said email
0 -- miles run (bike, swum)
0 -- hours on trapeze

In many ways, it will be my "first" job interview. No, I'm not that young. I'm just leaving a specialized world. I'm excited -- and I think I'll be well-prepared -- but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about it. It certainly adds a little spice to my return to the "real" world from vacation.

Friday, September 5, 2008


Limbo: n. ... c: an intermediate or transitional place or state d: a state of uncertainty*

I applied for a job last week. On paper, I'm ... not underqualified, but not quite what they are necessarily expecting. I'm also fairly confident that I could do the job well and enjoy it. I gave it a good shot, and will follow up.

In the meanwhile, I'm definitely in a state of limbo, according to the above definitions.
And headed away for 10 days of mountain hiking in the wilds of our neighbor to the north. I need this vacation, as extravagant as it seems with lurking possibilities of unemployment. It also makes pursuing much rather difficult, so I feel even more like I am waiting in an uncertain place.

However, there's another definition of the word limbo:
: a dance or contest that involves bending over backwards and passing under a horizontal pole lowered slightly for each successive pass*

Our house is being painted. (We rent). Scaffolding went up on Wednesday, much to the critters' consternation. My consternation as well, when I went to put out the trash and discovered that there were cross-braces in the way. Limbo with trash cans. It was something of a challenge.
Between the two types of limbo in my life, is it any wonder I've had Limbo Rock stuck in my head?

Every limbo boy and girl
All around the limbo world
Gonna do the limbo rock
All around the limbo clock
Jack be limbo, Jack be quick
Jack go unda limbo stick
All around the limbo clock
Hey, let's do the limbo rock**

*definitions from merriamwebster.com
** credit to Chubby Checker, of course

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Starting out...

...with one foot in front of the other.
or other such cliches.

I make no promises here; this is an experimental space. I may never return to post, or I may spew random nonsense, gripe about politics (let me just say that there are some graceful transitions I'd like to see in the political realm), whine about training.

I do make a simple request: if you've stumbled upon this page and have added up the information within to identify me, please respect that I've chosen to post under a pseudonym.

I chose the name for its multiple applications to my current life.

1 a: passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another

displaying grace in form or action : pleasing or attractive in line, proportion, or movement

a) I'm in the initial stages of making a career change. There have been recent developments which accelerated the time line, but I've been contemplating this for a while. I probably won't go into details here - it's exciting, intimidating, terrifying and exhilarating simultaneously, and I feel like I'm on a roller coaster without knowing where the track ends. There's impending unemployment, but I hope that's relatively temporary.

ii) I do static trapeze. For those of you of who don't know what that means, I offer a random YouTube link. (I've never met this person; I just searched on "static trapeze" and promptly got side-tracked for 20 minutes). Finding ways to make the transitions between tricks look fluid is one of my main challenges. I fell in love with trapeze, and to a lesser degree general circus arts, several years ago as an adult. I chose it as a way to challenge myself, and somewhere along the line, it became an addiction, in a very positive way.

tres) I'm a wanna-be triathlete. Still very much in the wanna-be stages, though slowly emerging. Trapeze gets the majority of my athletic attention and energy. However, I keep reading triathlon blogs and the bug bit. First, however, I have to relearn how to swim. I seem to have developed a phobia of actually putting my face in the water. This rather hampers my swimming endeavors. Triathlons have transitions too...

So there you have it, a brief introductory post, which got longer than I'd actually intended. Welcome.

* definitions taken from merriamwebster.com