Monday, December 21, 2009

monday miscellany

1) Today I stumbled across a college friend's blog. It's been a decade since we've seen each other, and that was a random catch-up lunch when El Bandito and I were in her town for another friend's wedding. I sent her an email; I hope she responds. I'll be a little sad if she doesn't. On the other hand, there was something very satisfying about just discovering that she's there. That her life seems to be generally good, that she seems fundamentally more content than those restless college years, that she's raising beautiful intelligent children with a husband who clearly still rocks her world.

ii) The Circus Center had its annual Open House this weekend. Casual show. I didn't perform. But I'm thinking I will this spring or summer (dates TBD) when the more formal showcase is held. I'm actually kind of excited by this idea. Odd, since I had no intention of performing, ever. I'm making progress; right now it's trying to choreograph the transitions between moves that is as challenging for me in developing an act as the actual moves. More so.

C) I'm "training" for a 5k. Ludicrous, eh? Especially to the more dedicated runners who occasionally read this blog (which probably means all two of you wonderful ladies!). I can run/walk one easily. I know that. But I haven't done any "official" running in a very long time. I'd like to run the whole thing. I have no doubt I could do that, even now. I'd like to do it in a respectable time. But mostly, I just want something to focus on to get me out there running consistently; I need those miles for my mind. Along with the trapeze. They're different things. And I make time for running if I have a goal. Less so if I don't.

cuatro) My parents were supposed to come visit for Thanksgiving. Those plans got axed by my father's health issues. He's better, but not fully recovered. It's changed our holiday plans somewhat. I kept thinking, that entire week "oh, I should show them X" -- it has been years since they visited and we've discovered so much more of the area since then.

sqrt(25)) El Bandito and I have been attending astronomy lectures at the science museum. It's fun to think about the edges of the unknown. Expansive. And so different from the unknowns that I spend my days thinking about. Other types of science are fun!

two+two+two) It's been a social whirlwind the last month. Holidays and out-of-towners suddenly in town and catching up with friends whom I haven't seen in months or years. I joke about being a hermit, as work, trapeze and El Bandito take up most of my time. It's been lovely to see so many friends recently.

the fifth prime number) A recent entry on a running/tri blog I read referred to the state of being "hangry". so hungry you are angry for no good reason. I understand that better than I ought to admit. I like the word mutation. It made me laugh in recognition.

and that seems like more than enough miscellany for a Monday.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

thursday three by three

I like when I read other people's Thursday Thirteens, but I don't know that I have thirteen things worth blogging about (for my whopping two readers!)

Or maybe it will be Thursday 3x3, three related sets of three things. That's more likely.

Set A: the parents
1. I am tired of parental health issues. Especially as I am far far away. My mother healed just fine from her lumpectomy. But my father ended up (completely unrelatedly)in the ICU for pulmonary embolisms. He's home now, recovering well although still on oxygen for any major exertion.

2. It is entirely in character that my father insisted on having breakfast before going to the emergency room. (When I told a friend about that last item, she said "So, what you're telling me is, you're related to your father?" I can't really argue the point validly.)

3. I feel fortunate that I talk to my parents frequently. That if my father had been 10 minutes later to the ER, which the doctors say would have been too late, at least there wouldn't have been lots left unsaid.

Set B, in which I hang by my heels
uno) I am sort-of taking an aerial dance class. Which is fun and challenges my brain. It's more a mental workout than a physical one, although I do get physical exercise. I've been working on technique and tricks for trapeze for several years, so the concept of playing on equipment and just trying things is somewhat liberating. But simultaneously intimidating. I am not very coordinated. I don't feel fluid and dancer-like; I feel bumbling and klutzy. The aerial dance class is at ... surprise... a dance studio. With other dance classes. Walking in there is really kind of neat. Full of people, full of energy. A buzz in the air. Kids running around. I can't quite describe it, but I like the vibe.

dos) Why the heck doesn't fitness transfer from one discipline to another? After September's fabulous hiking trip in the Canadian Rockies, my running got ignored for a few weeks. I feel a little like I'm starting over. I didn't run in September, although I hiked >60 miles in a week.

tres) My trapeze act is slowly coming together. I haven't been working on the act itself much lately, more on technique in general. I've had a few very intense classes recently and I feel like I am making progress. I don't have a natural aptitude for aerial arts. I don't have a gymnastic or dance background; I'm not fluid in my movements, or generally talented for the trapeze. But I feel like I'm getting better.

Set C, where October is a roller-coaster
i) October started out wonderfully. We "celebrated" my two-year surgiversary -- the two-year anniversary of my shoulder surgery. Which I celebrate because of how far I have come. We had a lovely day, a pleasant long stroll and a fabulous dinner, then joined a friend who was celebrating her birthday at a local bar. Much laughter and raucous enjoyment was had.

ii) and the following day, our darling old gray cat got sick. I'd promised her (and ourselves) that she'd been through enough with her spinal degeneration that I wouldn't put her through another major treatment regime or maker her live in pain. She basically just went into a full-body shutdown over 24 hours; by the time we got to the vet, the decision was obvious. It still sucked. Still sucks. I miss that little gray ghost. Stupid darn cats, causing us to get attached.

iii) that was just the first weekend of October. The rest of the month has been a crazy set of bumper-cars. The parental worries. Jury duty. Getting caught in a downpour; seeing a rare rainbow in the city.

Monday, September 28, 2009

caught early

I have two or three posts in draft form.
Posts about mountains, and near-solitude.
About hiking in the snow.
About being prepared.
Or posts about jobs.

But this isn't any of those.

Tomorrow, my mother is having a precancerous lump removed from her remaining breast.

Twenty-two years ago, she had breast cancer. Had a radical mastectomy, including lymph node removal. In many ways, she's one of the very lucky ones -- they got it all, she didn't need chemo or radiation at the time. In other ways -- she still has lymphedema which restricts her movement and causes her discomfort.

But maybe that early breast cancer was a blessing in disguise.
The lump she's having removed tomorrow? Found on a routine mammogram, which she's religious about. Confirmed by ultrasound and needle biopsy; an MRI showed no other signs of anything ominous.

Caught early.
So early her oncologist doesn't think radiation is a good idea. A short recovery.

My mother's one of the lucky ones. A survivor. A benefit of good health care. Lucky to have insurance which covers it all well -- and covered the initial mammogram.

Life is short. Tomorrow, I'll be waiting for a phone call, and trying not to jump when the phone rings. And yet? I know we're all lucky, every one in my family. It could have been so different.

Please, get your checkups. Do your self exams. Luck is partly where we make it.

Monday, August 17, 2009

ginga arts (shameless promotion)

Friends of mine in LA run a capoeira program. M. just sent me an email saying:

Dear Friends of Ginga Arts,

I am writing you guys to ask you to support Ginga Arts on the web by voting for us at:

The Nike Back your Block project is a great opportunity for Ginga Arts
to get funding! All you have to do is follow the link and put in your
e-mail address. Also, be sure to send this to all your friends as the
organizations who receive the most votes get funded.

So, please, support a great organization if you can!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

six weeks of silence

Most of the bloggers I read have fallen into silence over the summer -- a few race reports, a few wonderful long posts of remembrance. A spurt of posting, and then a quiet spell. (There are exceptions, including one of my favorite runner's blog -- I wrote that as running blog, but she covers a much wider range than that.)

So perhaps I shouldn't feel sheepish at six weeks of silence. They've been busy weeks. Settling in to the new job -- sometimes it's packed with stuff to accomplish and sometimes I'm not at all sure what I'm supposed to be doing. But it's reasonable thus far. I don't know that it's where I want to be in 5 years, but that's then, not now.

And breathing trapeze. Not running enough, not nearly enough --twice in the month of July? Those were treasured runs, although labored -- and getting over the inertia to get out the door for them on my rare unscheduled evenings is perhaps the hardest part.

Three nights of trapeze a week is a lot, and it's hard to make the schedule work. I'm spending 8-10 hours a week in classes/training/working slowly on my act -- we've now choreographed the first 20-30 seconds of it. We keep trying different things; I think we managed to add one new move on my last session.

So it's been a busy six weeks or so -- we splurged in July with a trip to Teatro Zinzanni which really was a tremendous amount of fun. El Bandito the Magnificent volunteered for one of the segments (with a lot of vigorous prodding from his wife). The show was good; the highlights were definitely the dual trapeze act at the end, seeing my husband juggle a raw chicken, loaf of bread and a blob of margarine, and a pretty astounding hula hoop act.

And then we had a fabulous, extravagant anniversary dinner last week; the advantage of knowing a sous schef at an uber-fancy restaurant is that we got to say "just bring food" and have wonderful things appear in front of us. Spoiled. Absolutely Spoiled.

A new day job, trapeze, the rare run, and weekend hikes in the coastal hills (preparation for our nearly-yearly trip hiking in the Canadian Rockies)... to quote Calvin and Hobbes, "The days are just packed".

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

getting my act together

act: n, 1 : the doing of a thing...7 a: one of successive parts or performances (as in a variety show or circus) b: the performer or performers in such an act c: a performance or presentation identified with a particular individual or group d: the sum of a person's actions or effects that serve to create an impression or set an example

getting one's act together:
Informal. to organize one's time, job, resources, etc., so as to function efficiently.

I ran last week. and this week. After a full four weeks not running, thanks to first a chest cold for my last week at the old job, followed by our mini-vacation (with some serious hiking; 600m of elevation gain in under 2.5km) and then starting a new job... Excuses, excuses.

and then, finally, I laced up my shoes and ran a few miles and suddenly... things settled in my brain. The buzz calmed down.

Starting a new job has been both enjoyable and overwhelming. I'm starting, after 3 weeks, to feel like I'm actually making sense of what I'm doing. There are parts of my job that are just plain sad. I haven't worked with patients in years, and seeing some of the things that can go wrong is depressing. But it also feels good to be potentially doing something clinically relevant.

But the biggest reason for the title... I've finally decided it's time to put some real time and energy into a trapeze act. Time, indeed, to get my act together. Stay timed. I won't be performing anytime soon, but video may be available shortly upon request. We'll see.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

loose ends

I took 2 weeks off between jobs; having been in limbo for several months I've been socking away money furiously and we decided we could afford the break. We're even going on a minivacation -- 4 days of hiking and urban exploration on the other side of the border.

It was strange clearing off my desk on my last day, copying important files and purging anything personal from my surroundings. No one else is likely to use my computer; it's nearing the end of any useful life. In a strange twist, I'll be back at that desk at least intermittently for a while. I'm hoping it's only intermittent but the new department has yet to find me space. It's an odd transition.

Yesterday was day 1 of being "between jobs," as my google status put it. And I spent much of it doing things which were far too productive. Pilates. Laundry, bill-paying, floor-mopping, spring-cleaning, baking pumpkin bread. Fortunately, I'd made plans to meet a friend to go to the science museum, so I did stop with the madness. And I skipped my run, again -- I've had a chest cold for the last week, and wheezing and coughing makes running far less pleasant. I even skipped a night of trapeze last week, a sure sign I was ill. Sure makes me feel lazy though.

However, a touch of laziness during downtime? I guess I shouldn't give myself too hard a time about that.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


level n. ...
16. an extent, measure, or degree of intensity, achievement, etc.: a high level of sound; an average level of writing skill.

Or perhaps this would be equally titled: "being where you are".

There's a guy in one of my trapeze sessions who is always thinking ahead to the next level. Sometimes that's a positive thing: it's good to have goals. Striving to get better and to constantly challenge oneself? I understand that. It's a large part of why I do trapeze.

But there's also something to be said for accepting where you are. To be able to look at what you can do with satisfaction for what it is.

Trapeze tricks build on skills. You learn how to do things in steps and stages. Sometimes it's just a matter of understanding the parts, but other times it's building the strength, the flexibility, the body vocabulary and trust. You can't always, shouldn't always, decide that you're ready to try something when you don't have the basics underlying the trick.

If you've just taken up running, a non-stop mile can be a victory. There's no point in kicking yourself because it wasn't a marathon.

I am, in my opinion, a mediocre aerialist. But that's not why I do it.

When I'm working on the trapeze, I Put Everything Aside. There's no room for other thoughts.

When I run, I Sort Things Out. Sometimes it's conscious, a thinking through as I run; sometimes it's just reaching a state where things settle in to my brain.

I need them both.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

definitions, two

New: having recently come into existence
Job: a. a specific duty, role, or function cb.: a regular remunerative position*

I have one.
Breathing a sigh of relief.
It's not the direction I thought I was going.
It starts 6/1; my current funding ends in May. A few days of breathing space.
I think it will be interesting. A new challenge -- different and the same.
and a raise from where I am. Can't complain.

I wish trapeze had a standard vocabulary.
It's hard to explain the new thins I was working on yesterday, even to other aerialists.
And yet, it was really satisfying last night. It's not that I made huge strides, but I worked hard. and some things worked really well.

I'm realizing I need to start working on an act.
I never thought I'd say that (type that?).
Trapeze was never about performing, but about challenging myself.
And now? I'm realizing the two things aren't mutually exclusive.
that an act might really be my next step.

I skipped my run tonight.
for no good reason.
and now that makes me grumpy.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

two days of sunshine

I'm not ready for Monday.
I have a meeting tomorrow to hopefully iron out the details for my new job. Yes, potentially, I have a new job. Not the direction I was expecting to move in, but it should be interesting, exciting, and challenging. Through a bizarre intersection of circumstances, I may be effectively in the same location, seeing my current colleagues and coworkers daily. That will require some adjustment -- to remind myself that I don't need to do X, Y, or Z for them, or worry about whether "we" are violating protocol in some incredibly meaningless way.

But this weekend,
I had:
A crappy run on Friday night.
A long walk with a friend.
A short but steep and truly lovely hike with El Bandito.
A dinner date for delicious food, after we sat in the car laughing until the end of NPR's Selected Shorts program. Yes, we're nerds.
A bike ride.
Time to watch dogs frolicking at the beach.
A potential partner for -- we're negotiating whether it will work out for either of us, but it might. Signing up for a race might help structure my training more too; as is, I run and bike because that helps keep me sane and increase my stamina for trapeze.
An hour spent in the garden plot, pulling weeds and deciding what to plant.

I'm a list-maker. Lists help me see what I've accomplished. What needs to be done. What steps to take.

This list? Two days of sunshine and a nap with the cat.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

recaps and head buckets

Monday. I ran. on the dreadmill. but ran nonetheless.
I hate the gym. Or maybe... I don't like the people in the gym. I'm sure they're all wonderful human beings (OK, maybe not), but there are too many of them in one place, competing for resources and attention and they are in my way. However, I like the aftereffects of going to the gym. Of pushing myself and feeling accomplished.

Tuesday was trapeze.
Wednesday I ran.
Today was more trapeze. It was a better night than Tuesday; on Tuesday everything felt hard. Even things I'd done a hundred times. A few things worked better than usual; my ability to hang upside down with my just feet hooked over the bar has improved greatly. But it felt hard. Tonight was ... no more successful, but didn't feel as challenging. Mental work, but more connection to it.

But looking at all that, it's no wonder my legs have felt leaden recently on my bike commute.

Speaking of bikes, I am vaguely in the market for another one. A road bike, to join my stable of mountain bike and heavy steel city commuter. So if anyone reading this has a recommendation for a good entry level road bike, let me know.

And on a vaguely related topic, can I just say how astounded I am at all the cyclists who don't wear helmets? I hate helmets - they're funny looking and all that. But I would never ride without one. I've had one minor concussion in my life. I don't need another. It's been on my mind with all the news coverage of Natasha Richardson's fall and subsequent death from an epidural bleed. I'm particularly aggravated when I see parents riding with their kids -- the kids are wearing helmets (which is a legal requirement in CA) and often the parents aren't. A) way to be a role model. B) who's going to care for the kids if you end up hospitalized or worse with a brain injury? It's especially upsetting when I see a helmet hanging from the handlebars, so it's clearly not an issue of not being able to afford one. Brain buckets. They save lives.

Ok. rant over.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

comfort zone

I've been having trouble motivating to apply for jobs. Part of it is that the positions I've found to apply for are really not what I want to be doing long-term, except for the job I applied for in December. Unfortunately, I don't think I even got an interview with them -- they still hadn't completed their short list of candidates by mid-February, but I assume they must have at this juncture.

Some of what I want to do would be best done as a freelance/self-employment venture, but I don't have the paper credentials to make that work.

And some of my lack of motivation is comfort in my current position. I know it's ending, sooner rather than later, but it's been a good fit for me and I'm comfortable there.

It's time to step outside my comfort zone.

I realized, after 2.5 hours in the aerial gym last night, that's part of why trapeze is so important to me. Trapeze challenges my comfort zones. It expands them. It makes me face my fears (even rational ones, like "you want me to do what? rotate 180 degrees and let go of my hands?") and evaluate them.

And in a different way, I'm regaining my comfort on the trapeze. The apprehension and fear of "what if I hurt my shoulder again" has slowly dissipated. I don't think of it for most moves.

Get up. Adjust. Try again.

It's not just for trapeze.

Monday, February 16, 2009

rain makes applesauce

The title of this post is from a children's book, but became a catchphrase in my family. Somehow, it seemed appropriate after 4 rainy days.

Commuting to work by bicycle is more challenging on wet days -- and somehow, Friday I managed to hit exactly the wrong weather window on my way to work.

But the rain made for a relaxing weekend, a good break. El Bandito the Magnificent and I don't usually really celebrate Valentine's Day, but he came home on Friday with a bottle of champagne anyway. Saturday we wandered through the arboretum in a mix of clouds and vibrant sun before I biked over to the aerial gym for a few hours, and after I returned we walked over to our favorite little gourmet pizza joint. Valentine's Day was perhaps a suboptimal time to go, with a longer wait and slightly less attentive service, but it's one of our favorite dates and a bottle of wine made the time fly by.

I'm still balancing too many things -- full-time current employment with a half-hearted job hunt. There's just been so little I actually want to apply for. I'm either desperately over-qualified or completely underqualified. However, I need to apply the Nike slogan, and just do it. I've been lucky to have the luxury of a few additional months of employment in my current position through some creative funding, but that will run out.

And I should care about that, and not just think "Oooooh, more time to train!" Trapeze classes and training -- there aren't enough hours for that around a standard workweek. Specialized location and equipment -- I can't just lace up my shoes or grab my bike and go. The 4-8 hours a week is nothing compared to the triathlon training a number of people I "know" (waving hello to my imagined and imaginary readers) do, but it's the constraints of when in my day (and week) it can happen that make it another tricky ball to juggle (which is why unemployment momentarily looks attractive...) On Thursday, I found a balance. A butt balance, to be precise. I've been struggling with this for weeks and all of a sudden it worked. That's the thing about trapeze for me. It's so frustrating, requires so much concentration and focus, but then I'll get something and it will be so incredibly rewarding.

And tonight's 3 miles felt rewarding too. My knee's been aching recently, and I've just started a bunch of lower body work and stability exercises (my love-hate relationship with the Bosu is coming along nicely). It still ached tonight, but the miles felt easier, and I timed it well -- no rain, only a few puddles, and I didn't get soggy running shoes! Whooo.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

yesterday I did...
an easy 5K.
to celebrate an internet friend's 40th.

only, at about the 4th kilometer, I tripped.
one of those slow-motion falls where you have enough time to consider what's happening, but not really enough time to change things.

I grazed a hip.
and the heels of both hands.
But managed not to jar my bad shoulder too much.
(I am so terrified of re-injuring my post-surgical shoulder that it's not actually funny).

and I got up, and just kept going. No lasting injury. Some new bruises, although right now, my legs are sufficiently black-and-blue I'm not sure which bruise is from what activity...

it did, however, mean I didn't get to go play on the trapeze and practice new tricks. torn hands are not trapeze-friendly -- and trapeze is not hand-friendly.

I missed it.

but a bike ride, a long walk with a friend, and a lazy afternoon in the sunbeam with El Bandito and the cat?

it's not the same, but it's still a damn nice way to spend a Saturday.

Friday, January 16, 2009

physical therapy

nope, this isn't a post about the daily regimen of shoulder exercises I'm still doing 15 months post surgery. or the knee exercises I ought to be doing.

or the pain of A.R.T., which has helped my shoulder immensely.

A friend of mine commented, when I complained about my current limbo-like state of employment and therefore my concern about the expense of trapeze classes and training, that "it's cheaper than couples counseling."

She's right.

Don't get me wrong -- I have a marriage I'm extremely happy in. He makes me fall over with laughter; he makes me feel safe and cherished and supported. El Bandito rocks my world, and I'm pretty sure that feeling is mutual.

But trapeze is, in some ways, a type of therapy. There's some truth in that.

I love running, hiking, and even walking because of the rhythm and the scenery and a hundred reasons.

And as long as I'm active, I'm generally pretty cheerful.

But trapeze is different.

Part of it is the sheer physical challenge, especially now that I'm back in advanced classes and learning new things.

Yesterday, I caught myself by my ankles dozens of times. Intentionally. From standing on the trapeze to hanging by my ankles. From sitting on the trapeze to hanging by my ankles. From hanging by my knees to hanging by my ankles. These aren't new things, but they're things I'm getting better and better at.

When I'm on the trapeze, I can't think of anything other than what I'm doing with my body.

I spent some several minutes fighting my (irrational) fear of a simple trick: "butt balance". Which is hard to explain, but is basically, balancing on your butt on the trapeze, hence the name. There are a bunch of different balances in static trapeze (back balance, front balance, butt balance, straddle back balance to name a few), and each of them has been a challenge to learn. Finding the balance and maintaining the pose takes a lot of concentration and coordination.

Those hours of my week? there's nothing else.

and I love them for that.

Not to mention the endorphins, the sore muscles, the feeling that I've used my body well, the tired abs, the bruises (as I hopped in the shower tonight post-run, El Bandito counted 10 on my lower body alone, from abrupt contact with the bar or ropes).

And then I'm too exhausted to worry about whether I'm employed after February 1st, and if so, where.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

data junkie

I'm a scientist by training, and by nature.

El Bandito the magnificent gave me a wonderful Christmas present: a Garmin Forerunner.

It got its inaugural "run" this afternoon.

My inner data junkie is quite pleased. Even if my body says "OMG, what's this running business???"

Off to play with the accompanying software for a while before it's time for ab torture.

Friday, January 2, 2009

a birthday tree and new years

I have one of those birthdays that falls between Christmas and New Year's. A mixed blessing.

The other day, as I passed a discarded christmas tree on the curb, I was reminded of a childhood birthday. My parents always tried to make my birthday distinct from the rest of the holidays. One year (and I can't remember how old I was), they claimed one of those discarded trees, snuck it into the house on my birthday, and decorated it especially for me. (I think they used ribbons and bows, so as not to use Xmas ornaments). It was my very own "birthday tree", and I still smile 20+ years later to think of it. I have awesome parents.

New Year's was a social whirlwind. We left the cold-and-snowy to return to fog, although we saw an amazing sunset above the clouds. Then we dashed off to a New Year's Eve party after dumping our luggage and a quick meal. Got up New Year's Day and sat in a bar for 3 hours. What? There was an all-important hockey game on. Then joined many hung-over friends for a late brunch/dinner/afternoon meal, before returning home for the evening. A lot of fun, and now we're catching up, settling in, and taking deep breaths before next week's return to the daily grind.

Of course, I sent off a job application this morning. So there's always something...