Thursday, December 29, 2011


Maybe tomorrow I'll take a better photo of the empty bottle (and thus remove this disclaimer).

But a nice bottle of champagne.
Shared with family, to celebrate my birthday.
A good end to a lovely visit.

Thankful that I get to spend this time with them.

Thankful that El Bandito takes long walks with me on these visits, and buys fancy sparkling wine to share.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

the lake in winter

My home.

Oh, not this lakeside town in particular, though I do love the pier here.

But this lake, and a winter sunset?

Part of my heart.

Part of who I am.


I visit it whenever I get the chance.
This year, it gifted me with a dramatic sunset and calm waters.

Some years, when El Bandito and I visit, this pier is coated in ice, impassable.

Some years, the snow and ice cover almost as far as the eye can see -- though those years are rare now.
I love this lake in summer.

And the crowds of people on the public sections of the shore.

The sand dunes.

The views of miles and seemingly endless miles of water and sky.

I love it in winter, frozen along the edges, treacherous and tempting.

I love it from the far southwestern edge, in the windy city.

From the sand dunes extending along its eastern edge.
Watching sunsets on a hot, humid summer night or a cold, cold winter aftenroon.

And for the deep, deep sense of home.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

moving pictures

El Bandito and I went to the movies last night. A little break from family, a little time together.
A lovely fable with beautiful effects. Hugo.

There's something about movies, the way they offer escapism and adventure and different world views... and sometimes, to be honest, just big damn explosions.

Stepping into another life -- as an observer.

Monday, December 26, 2011

the old neighborhood

 My parents still live in the house I grew up in -- a constant in my life, though I've been out-of-the-house more than half my life.

The streets are familiar.
Full of memories.

And full of so many changes, too. The neighborhood's improved.
There are now coffee-shops and bakeries within walking distance.

A new organic foods market that I suspect won't make it, but is nice to see there anyway.

Fancy new restaurants. A packed pub.

The historic houses shining with their paint jobs and repairs, even though the gardens don't show this time of year.

And still, a community. Where the neighbors mostly know each other. Where kids still play on the lawns.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

a list of random things which make think of friends

it's not just the big things that make friendships work. it's sometimes the shared things, big or small. On that note, a list of some of the random things that I'm grateful make me think of friends. 
(incomplete, certainly)

tiaras and parasols
hockey games
white russians
broken kneecaps (not mine, fortunately)
pushups (the exercise, not the ice cream treat -- or the bra)
inflatable platypus

simple things

today, or rather yesterday, since I was too tired last night to type this:

a nowhere-near comprehensive list of simple things I've appreciated this week.

the bathroom ceiling (you don't miss it until you don't have it)
the freshly repaved roads that make my bike commute less vibratory (worth the construction chaos)
a well-timed thank you note
chocolate showing up in my office.
El Bandito's magical coffee.
lunch-time runs.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

tuesday night workouts

On Tuesdays, I drive across the city for my workout.
I started doing this because working out with friends makes the torture a little less torturous.
And because I needed one more good, hard, structured workout in my week, to go with the runnning and the trapeze.
It's a circus-oriented conditioning class. Some acro, lots of core work, lots of functional strength and body weight exercise.

It kicks my butt. Sometimes literally.
But there's always a lot of laughter, and naming of exercises (benches of death, captain morgans).

The participants change a bit from week to week -- never more than 5 of us, so we get focused attention.

And awesome assisted stretching at the end.

I leave feeling like I could do it all over again,

Thankful for the company, the conditioning, and the endorphins.

Monday, December 19, 2011

older, wiser, and more bad-ass

For those of you who might have missed it, Jote started this "30 days of Gratitude" thing in 2009.

Jote's the kinda gal whose good ideas spread like wildfire. Last year, more than a handful of us picked up the idea, and I know that this year, the community of people looking at their lives and seeing all the amazing things to be grateful for has spread immensely. People acknowledging their siblings, their spouses, their kids, the right timing of a cup of coffee, their gyms, their running buddies.

We've all got a lot to be grateful for.

And many reasons to be grateful to Jote for inspiring this introspection.

I know that a number of the folks doing gratitude blogging in December are part of Jote's Austin community of mamas and friends.

And I'm loving seeing those people, and how they connect with Jote.

She and I were college friends. Knew each other in those malleable years, while we were still figuring out who we were and what we wanted. Drinking White Russians, watching football, taking long walks through farmland and thinking we were prepared because we'd brought a small water bottle and a single powerbar between us. Bitching about boys -- we probably called them men, but really, we were all just kids then.  Dressing to the nines, and then spitting as we walked to a college dance, one each on W's arms, leading him to declare "You can dress 'em up, but you can't take 'em out".

Growing up, together and apart.

I went to graduate school. Jote fell in love (Hi, Matt!).
I missed her wedding, because I couldn't afford a ticket to Austin on my wimpy graduate student stipend. We talked on the phone. Intermittently.

But life happens, and when you're not in the same city, or the same community of people, it's easy to let things lapse more than they should.

I saw Jote when "The Teen" was a toddler; connecting with her when El Bandito and I were in Texas for another friend's wedding. By then, it had been 5 or 6 years, but it was still like catching up with an old friend.

More time passed, and the contact became more sporadic. An email bounced. We lost  the immediacy that forges bonds. I still think of her every July.

And then, I found her blog. I remember reading through it going, YES, JOTE. This is the girl I knew, turned into a woman I *want* to know. And being thrilled when she replied to an email. She's Jote. She's awesome. She's a rock star in her own inimitable way.

Sometime in the last year, I sent her an email telling her how glad I was she was part of my life again. She replied "it's like we're having the same conversation, only wiser and more bad-ass". Amen, lady, amen.

So, Jote, thank you for so much. For the reminder to be grateful. For your part in my freaking awesome life. For being older, wiser, and more bad-ass. For still touching a chord in my soul, all these years later. For being an awesome mother, for raising kids I'd love to know. For still sharing my love of coffee, tasty drinks, yeast on popcorn, and artichokes. For the tofu recipe that's become a staple in our household -- and known simply as "Jote's Tofu".  For taking gorgeous pictures and including me in your distant life.

I hope that some day, we can have a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. A walk together. In the meantime...

Lady, you rock. I hope today, and every day, you're showered with the love, affection, and gratitude you deserve from all angles. Happy December, darlin' gal. Together and apart, we're older, wiser, and more bad-ass. You called it.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

the right words

on my run today, just as I was hitting a low point (or a high point, since it was an uphill I didn't really want to be on), I saw graffiti* scrawled on a sidewalk.

Try Hard.
Do Well.

They were words I needed right then.

Or finding a poem (via a Poetry Friday link from another woman gratitude-blogging) that spoke to me.

I don't always have the right words, especially to offer in times of grief or sorrow, or in times of joy. But I love it when I find them.

Or when they find me.

Be kind.

Try Hard.
Do Well.

Thanks, random paint marker person.

*I actually suspect, from its location by a school, that this was sanctioned "graffiti"

Saturday, December 17, 2011


it's no secret I'm addicted to the trapeze.
to the challenges, and the athleticism, and slowly gaining artistry as well.

and I'm grateful for all that. I said it last year, and it still holds true.

but also, for watching circus. For seeing the incredible things people can do with their bodies and their art. For seeing the physical and emotional dedication.

for watching a friend perform her swinging trapeze act for the first time.

for watching the spectacle that a Cirque du Soleil show is.  A different level, and yet nearer than one might think.

for the creativity and energy and enthusiasm.

For the friends circus has brought me. For the casual acquaintances whose smiles still brighten my day. For this community. For the joy on a kid's face watching the clowns and the aerialists and the gasps of astonishment.

Friday, December 16, 2011

a friday night dinner with friends

drinking funny pink cocktails.
three people scooting around each other in a small kitchen, chopping mint and slicing mushrooms.
good wine.
sitting down to eat with stories and chatter.
leaving before the evening really ends, to go pick up another friend from the airport.

a good friday night.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Synonym Toast and Acrobats

Describing how grateful I am for my marriage, for El Bandito, for this sustaining relationship? Impossible. And yet important. Today is El Bandito's birthday, so a short list of gratitude that doesn't begin to cover it:

For 18 years of inside jokes, the title among them. Of finishing each other's sentences. Croutons. Interrupting Donut! and a ridiculous slew more.

For making me laugh so hard I can't breathe, even though almost every time that happens I say I hate you (I don't, really).

Locks of Love, Ponte Vecchio, 2003
For being there when I am "old and busted" and when I am "new hotness", though the casual observer might not know the difference.

For supporting me. In so many, many ways.  The early morning coffee. The patience when I schedule our lives around my workouts. For doing the dishes while I'm doing my shoulder exercises again,

For putting my shoes and coat away, even when I intend to grab 'em momentarily and get confused at their absence.

For documenting our lives in such an amazing way, the places we go, the people we're with. It's an overwhelming number of photos. But man, it's a wonderful collection (even if I have yet to figure out how to navigate them.)

For the weekends wandering new cities, or our own.  For stops for chocolate truffles and coffee. For being willing to adventure with me, no set destination. 

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)

Excerpted from e.e. cummings. Somewhere I have never travelled.

It's a start. Even though there's so much more. For tonight, Happy Birthday, El Bandito. You rock my world.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

a boy. his skateboard.

There's a boy who lives in the apartments at the corner.

Often, when I'm coming home from work, or heading out for my run (or sometimes, like tonight, on the return from my run, in the dark hours of the evening), he's outside.

With his skateboard. and the most improvised of obstacles and fake pipes.

He's getting better. He's out there almost every evening. A boy, his skateboard.

And when he lands a new trick, he's got a gorgeous grin.

Tonight, he wiped out just as I was approaching, on the cooldown from a really good run.  Picked himself up, grabbed his deck, and said "I thought I was going to get it this time".

Next time, kiddo.

I don't know what it is about kids and skateboards -- probably childhood nostalgia as much as anything -- but this kid makes me smile every damn time I see him. 

A boy. A skateboard. A shooting star. It was a good night for a run.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

public transit

It's not that I don't like driving.
Because actually I do, and always have.
But I hate parking. and looking for parking.
And so, in this city, without a designated parking space of our own, we tend to avoid driving.
I bike commute, because it's simplest, although it still requires more thought and planning than hopping in the car.
El Bandito bike commutes, although he's gotten bored with his route after a number of years. And so somedays he takes transit.

Today, I had errands to run that just weren't practical by bike.
I spent a lot of time on transit, but it was efficient and effective.
It's not always, in this city with its dysfunctional transit system.
Today, it was.  And every day, it moves thousands of people around... to jobs, for errands, taking people to places they want to go (and to places they don't, I suppose).

Simply grateful that today all the connections were simple and the timing was good.

Monday, December 12, 2011

My mother, on her 70th birthday.

I am grappling with the concept of my mother being 70. Which the calendar says is true today.

In my mind, she's the 40-year old who went back to work when I was in elementary school, setting off each morning in her walking shoes with her lunch and left-overs. Who swam at lunch. Who set an example of being a capable working woman who took care of herself and her family.

In my mind, she's the mid-40s breast cancer survivor.  Hard to believe that her mastectomy was more than 2 decades ago. Not that I ever actually believed she wasn't going to survive that. She was my mother. She *is* my mother.

In my mind, she's the computer programmer on call late at night.

In my mind, she's the woman who fell asleep on the chest freezer b/c she was so, so, tired and had been taking care of her injured and whining teenage daughter for too many nights running.

In my mind, she's the woman in her early 50s who asked me what I wanted for my 21st birthday and when I said "24 pink and green giraffes" she found a drawing of two giraffes, photocopied it a dozen times, and colored them in with pink and green highlighters.

In my mind, she's the woman who sent me little cards of encouragement through difficult grad school years. Who has knit me so many sweaters.

In my mind, she's in her mid-50s, making the food for my wedding. Baking the cake. Refitting the wedding dress she made me in last minute alterations.

In my mind, she's not *70*.  Nothing wrong with 70. I know fabulous, sharp-as-a-tack, spry and lively 70-year-olds. But my mother's not supposed to get "old". She's my mother. She will always be my mother. And my friend. And for that, I am so very thankful.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

books. libraries. book recommendations.

I come from a family of readers.
My sister once famously missed her entire 6th grade class leaving the (1-room) school library because she was reading.
And El Bandito has more than once had to repeat things I wasn't paying attention to because I was reading.

Sometimes I read for distraction.

Sometimes I read for entertainment.

Sometimes I read for education.

I also read really damn fast. For years, I just thought that was how everybody read. A novel would be a way to pass an hour, maybe two if it was serious. Sometimes 3.  I've read a lot.

I read non-fiction if it's a topic that vaguely interests me.

And I'll read just about anything fiction-wise, although I'll gripe if it's poorly written or if I can't suspend my disbelief. As someone I know once said, this means I've read more really good books and more complete trash than most people will read in their lifetimes. 

So, I find it hard to choose books -- what will get me through the flight, what will make me laugh or cry? What won't fall into the category of "did I really spend an hour with that tripe"?

Every time I travel, I put out a call for book recommendations and garner suggestions from friends.
And my phone is full of photos from bookstores, with titles that looked interesting while browsing.
Some friends will hand me books, knowing that it's not that I have more time to read, but that the time I have is condensed, and so I'll get it back to them quickly.

Today, in another gratitude-blogger's post, I found a book recommendation. Which will hopefully arrive in the electronic edition from the library in time to get me through part of a long flight.

Grateful for all the ways to lose myself in another world...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

fresh from the oven

today's gratitude could be ...

... that running multiple errands this afternoon still involved tasty Vietnamese sandwiches...

or that the plumbing leak in the upstairs flat only caused the ceiling in our bath to buckle and drip, not collapse...

or that El Bandito threw together a delicious dinner despite playing phone tag with plumbers and landlords...

and yes, I am grateful for all of those things.

but also for the ability and time to throw together a batch of banana bread, 4 miniloaves.  it's a simple thing, but banana bread satisfies my desire to avoid waste, and to make something delicious for El Bandito (because realistically, his intake of baked goods is probably about 3 times mine).  and it was a good end to an ordinary weekend day.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


I've been feeling underutilized at work recently.
Hell, not recently. Throughout the last several years.
But this job pays the bills. Allows me to go to trapeze without guilt.
Helps us travel.
And to afford nice bottles of wine and the good coffee we love.
Lets me still think about science -- and that might be part of the problem.
My scientific training makes me cautious and conservative in data analysis and experiments. Clinical research is rarely that clean and well-designed.

Though I forget sometimes, some of the research I'm doing really does help people. Not abstractly, not in the "world of the future" but *now*.

That's kind of cool.

Today, I felt productive. No major project ticked off, no breakthroughs or finished papers or anything like that. Just a good, solid day's work, where I felt like I used my mind again.

Grateful for that feeling.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

quiet miles

I am, somewhat in spite of myself, "training" for a half-marathon at the beginning of February.
Training casually, trying to increase my weekly mileage and frequency, but without sacrificing trapeze time. Or, for that matter, time with El Bandito or friends or holidays or... yeah. So, it's not an optimal way to train for an athletic event, but it's a way to train around my life.
The miles have been accumulating.

I am grateful that El Bandito accommodates my exercise needs and desires. That he doesn't grumble when  I schedule events around my planned runs (or around my trapeze and circus conditioning).

Grateful that running gives me better stamina on the trapeze, even as it reduces my flexibility and makes me work harder.
That running gives my mind time to wander and work through things.
That sometimes, running comes down to my footfalls and my breathing and not very much else.

That sometimes, running is views and awe. And sometimes, running is the fog and not seeing more than 30 feet in front of me in the misty park.

Grateful for the miles these shoes have taken me, in the quiet late evenings and the few early mornings.
For the strength in my legs, the power in my heart that lets me do these things.
For the friends who have decided that perhaps this crazy running business isn't truly so crazy -- or, if it so crazy, they're willing to partake in the insanity with me.
For the solo runs.
For the camaraderie of the other runners on the roads and paths, the nods and smiles of acknowledgement.

I've grown to love running. I knew I missed it when I was told with the ankle injury in 2010 that I couldn't run. Missing it isn't the same as loving it. But as I start to run longer, farther, more often, I start to crave it.

I'm grateful for the ability to run. To, from, towards, away. For the quiet solo miles I've been logging on my early evening runs. For all that those miles give me.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

seeeeester mine

My sister and I? We have a quirky relationship. She's my sister, sharer of my genes, sharer of my childhood experiences, with just enough space between us that I was always trying to surpass her. (Isn't that part of siblings too?) She was the good kid, the bookworm. I was the boundary tester. Always. (Although also a bibliophile).

We're quick to ignite, pushing each other's buttons.  We snap quickly at each other. 

But our nearly weekly phone calls are part of the integral fabric of my life. We talk about nothing, we talk about everything. Topics from dinner to silliness to the serious. The inside jokes that come from shared lifetimes. 

El Bandito commented, years ago, that my sister and I have a better relationship over the phone than in person. He's correct, though I think much of the failing is in my quick temper.

It's unlikely she'll ever read this. But "Call your seeester day" never seems quite right without that contact, even though both of us are busy enough that Sunday mornings skip past unnoticed sometimes. This past weekend, they were traveling. The weekend before, we caught up only briefly. 

I'm sure, in a few weeks, when we're on shared familiar turf for the holidays, discombobulated by the return to childhood surroundings, we'll be sniping at each other as always.  So tonight, I'm taking a few minutes to be truly grateful that I have a loving sister. That our arguments and insults are truly trivial.  I'll get cranky soon enough! 

Monday, December 5, 2011

old friends and new media

I may bemoan the lack of old-fashioned letter-writing, or even email  correspondence.  The long missives that caught you up on what friends were doing, thinking, feeling.  Sometimes, I look at the short-attention-span and "public" nature of things like Facebook and cringe.

But other times, I realize it's given me a bit of a gift. Old friends, who'd fallen out of contact -- we lost the conveniences of catching up over coffee, easy phone conversations or long emails. Our lives got busier; we moved in and out of different time zones; we created new circles and new families.

But it's nice to know that M. is doing well pursuing his life-long theater dream, that E. is indeed "raising bright Texas children" with his best friend, that S. and M. are making wedding plans.  That A. has taken up speed-skating, that T. has taken to beautiful crafting. To reconnect, and catch up on a little of the daily minutia and re-establish bonds and conversations.  My life is very full.

So today's gratitude: modern communication and old, dear friends.  And the mix.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

meeep meep!

El Bandito and I have been sorting through vacation photos.

He announced: "there are series of photos of me making funny faces." (He's awesome at funny faces. Of course I take the opportunity to capture them!)

I looked at him, when he announced this, and he said: "Like Beaker face!"

and proceeded to "Meep Meep"

and make *more* funny Beaker faces!

I love that this is my life. I'm still giggling.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

rockstar parking

On a busy day, full of awesome, a convenient parking space might not seem like something important.

It's not that it saved us $20, though that's a plus.

But it saved us time, and gave us a chance to get a drink before the show. And it made us both smile.

We spent more of today than usual in the car, to-and-fro-ing from home to event to home to event, including having to navigate unexpectedly around a parade.

So, it's not a big thing. It's not a profound thing. But nonetheless, today, I'm grateful for my husband's parking luck.

Friday, December 2, 2011

a casual friday night

The last few months have been a whirlwind, as I've alluded to once or twice.
Mostly in completely awesome ways; I really can't complain about all the fabulous things we've done, the people we've spent time with, or the crazy workouts I've managed to squeeze in.

Some of those fabulous things will probably pop up more individually throughout the month.

However, it's been a little exhausting, and the holiday season promises to stay just as much of a cyclone.

Tonight, I came home from work, threw on the new running shoes I'm still undecided about, gave them a short but speedy test, and am now home for the evening, with El Bandito cooking a delicious dinner of braised greens, chickpeas, and couscous; a nice bottle of wine waiting for dinner to be ready; and no plans to leave the house until the morning.  Time for a quiet evening in. Together.  

Thursday, December 1, 2011

lunch with a friend

I actually took a lunch break today. Normally, I'm bad at doing that -- I'll take one to fit in a workout (or occasionally a walk with one of my friends) -- but generally, it's reheated leftovers grabbed at my desk.  

But today, I left the office, took the train a few stops, and grabbed soup and salad with a pal. It was nice to catch up on his life -- it's got more drama in it than mine, currently, as he's moved in with a girlfriend and his parents have decided he'd going to hell (apparently, being in his 30s and single was preferable to living in sin). A cup of coffee, some rambling conversation...

It was nice to take 45 minutes out of my day and reconnect. And to step away from the pile of work on my desk. I took a deep breath on my way back and thought, I should do this more often. (Next week, I'm having lunch with El Bandito himself. That's awesome too). 

Grateful for the conversation, the minor sense of "playing hooky" and the freedom to arrange my schedule to allow a calm Thursday lunch.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Yes, I know every one's done a Thanksgiving post already.

This isn't that.

Two, maybe three years ago, I found a lovely blog in December. She started a project called "30 days to a grateful heart" -- to consciously find, for the busy holiday season, things that made her thankful.

Last year, she invited people to join her.

It was certainly the most blog-posting I've ever done.
I didn't keep up the habit of blogging gratitude.

I will say, however, that the exercise made me more aware of the little things, and the big ones, that make up my days.

All the petty annoyances? All the cranky moods?  Are, on any ledger sheet, more than offset by the sheer amount of awesome in my life.

Today, I'm starting another month of recognitions.
Today, I am thankful for the reminders.  For this idea, and the community I saw last year around it.

Happy December, y'all.

Friday, October 14, 2011

woefully neglected (Friday 5)

I think about returning to this blog every once in a while. Usually while biking to or from work, and then I don't sit down and do so.

The last few months have been jam-packed. Although, perhaps sadly, not packed with jam. Hmmm. It's almost time for apple butter and apple sauce season.
Too much to recount, especially when most of the handful of folks who read this interact with me more often than I seem to post. Perhaps eventually I'll update on the wonderful mountain hiking excursion, or seeing Casablanca with the symphony providing the soundtrack. Or dancing (albeit poorly) to Joan Baez singing not 4' away. Or not.

However, in preparation for another round of "30 days of a grateful heart" in December, I'm trying to regain a habit.

Five Things on a Friday

i) last night, I took another trapeze trick out of safety lines. and have two or three more that are almost there. I feel like I'm making progress, and it's a lovely feeling.

dos) I spent last weekend visiting friends in the pacific northwest. Nice to get a change of scenery, and detect autumn in the air and colors. It was a wonderful visit of walking and talking, but also somewhat sad, as their marriage has been quite rocky for the last year. They married the year before we did. I got home and took a deep breath in appreciation for the luck I have in my marriage.

3) I get to have dinner with friends and a nice bottle of wine that El Bandito and I brought back from our February adventure. I am looking forward to a lovely evening.

D) Tomorrow morning, I'm trying something new with my run -- I'm doing the first portion and then meeting a newly running friend for the last few miles to see how that goes. I think I'm slow; I know she's actually slower at this point, but I suspect I'll welcome that for the last bit. Then I get to have a day to work on household projects, which have been neglected too. See jampacked.

five) The building fire alarm went off and interrupted me. I won't actually consider that a sign.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

running by feel

I had to convince myself not to run on Friday evening. I'd had a week of intense workouts, and thought that perhaps, even though it was a beautiful evening, I should give my body a day off.

I more than made up for it at the circus gym the next morning, and added a lovely evening walk with El Bandito watching the waves.

Today, after a wonderful, decadent day with friends and cocktails, I decided I really didn't want to skip another run, despite the fact that I was Feeling Lazy. (That deserved capitalization.) It was a surprisingly warm and sunny day, but the breeze had kicked up.

After getting changed and tying my shoes, I spent 15 minutes trying to locate my Garmin. I knew I'd seen it. El Bandito knew he'd seen it recently too. Eventually, I blamed Gozer the Destroyer (our polydactyl cat, whose name is not actually Gozer, but it's one of his many and accurate nicknames. aka, "why we can't have nice things". He's not that bad, but we're easily amused.) and went ahead without the Garmin.

I didn't even look at the clock when I left the house. I know the approximate distances in my normal loops in the park, and planned to simply run one of them so that I could know how far I'd gone. I was taking it easy, though I didn't have a real sense of pace -- I still have no idea of how fast or slow I was going. I assume it was slow, especially given that my afternoon involved more than one tasty libation.

About 3/4 through my planned route, it suddenly occurred to me that it really did feel easy. I picked up the pace a little bit and then decided to push on past what would have been the final turn.

I only added another 1/2-3/4 of a mile, but it was nice to be running for the joy of it. And to walk into the house and be told that dinner was about 3 minutes from being done (thanks, Awesome El Bandito!)

And since it's a three-day weekend, I get a long bike ride and baking day tomorrow (as well as catching up on household and work items... sigh... never-ending laundry.)

Friday, June 10, 2011

why i run. or something like that.

I always want to say something clever, at least with the title.

But that just means this sits quiescent for long periods.

Daily life is a bit of a whirlwind sometimes.

I ran another 5k "race" last weekend. A beautiful course. I half-jokingly referred to it as "too much estrogen in one place" as it was a "woman-oriented" race -- a fundraiser for a girls' charity, sponsored by a local women's running clothing shop. Fun, but not particularly well-organized, at least in the ways I wanted it to be.

It did make me think about my "athletic" goals for the next few months. There are people I know who have racing seasons (some of which are extreme, some of which just involve impressive triathlons).

I'm by nature a fairly competitive person. But that's actually NOT why I'm doing this. Especially the running. I run for the moving meditation, when it happens. I run for the ability to let things percolate and think through. I run the for sensation of slightly labored breathing and tired legs and the satisfaction of having gotten up that hill. I run because it doesn't require a gym, or special equipment beyond good shoes and a good sports bra -- it's just there. I run to see different parts of my city, my surroundings. I run to increase my stamina for the trapeze.

Yes, it all comes back to the trapeze at some point or another.

I don't run fast. Or far. I'm working on both those things. But that's not why I run.

and it's good to remember. I run because I love to. Not because I have to. Not because I want to beat someone, even myself.

the fact that it burns off my over-indulgences in wine and ice-cream doesn't hurt either...

Monday, April 25, 2011


Springtime makes me restless.

I came back from our fabulous vacation feeling ready for a major change, though not certain what that change needed to be.

I'm still not certain.

The month following involved a serious work crunch, and readjusting expectations after no longer having a trapeze-related performance goal, thanks to the financial chaos the circus school found itself in.

I took a business trip (related to that serious work crunch). On the flight on the way back, I had a meandering conversation with the soldier next to me. He said that I just lit up when talking about trapeze. It's still my passion. I can't imagine running off to join the circus -- my body's just not that resilient any more. So I'm still training hard, but not with a direction. I suspect that contributes to my restlessness.

Setting running goals. Thinking about career directions and opportunities. Dreaming of moving to "middle earth". Planning more vacations. Researching adventure trips.

I'm still restless.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

mixed bag

I got back from a three-week vacation two weeks ago, and it seems like forever. It was an excellent vacation, full of minor adventures, a lot of relaxation, good food and gorgeous scenery.

And sheep.
And penguins.

Things have been a mixed bag since I returned, however. My circus school is in the midst of restructuring and moderate upheaval. One of my coaches left. And my favorite class has been cancelled -- I can take the "same" class on a different day, and will, but I really liked that particular time slot for many reasons.

And work has been ornerous at times. Re-entry never is easy after a fabulous vacation, I suppose. I knew there were some unresolved issues to address when I got back.

However, I did say it was a mixed bag. And that indicates good along with cranky.

Finding out I've been put forward for a raise/promotion, a year ahead of schedule.

A run in the light rain. Slow, but felt surprisingly easy considering how little running I've done in the last 6 weeks. Longer than I'd intended, because of the ease.

Walking into the house and finding dinner was mostly ready.

Trying flying trapeze for the first time ever. Oh, I love my static trapeze; I'm not giving it up! But it was fun to try a new aerial apparatus. Scary, but fun. Oddly, once I was flying, it wasn't scary, but waiting for takeoff was a bit unnerving.

A long catch-up phone call with a good friend. This too a mixed-bag, in that said friend is facing some major life decisions with fairly tight time deadlines. But still very very good to talk.

Tonight, a casual dinner date with my husband. Tomorrow, a hike with a friend, rain or shine.

and now, back to work.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

it's bad timing and me...

... we find a lot of things out that way.

(yet another song lyric from my college years)

A month ago, I did something that scared me conceptually: I auditioned for the Circus Center showcase. Don't get me wrong -- just because it scared me didn't mean it wasn't something I really wanted to do. I've been wanting to do this for more than a year, and the freak ankle injury last July completely ruined last year's opportunity.

Actually doing it? Far less scary. I didn't mess it up, which is really all I wanted. I knew I'd done well enough technically that if I didn't get in, it was because my act didn't fit with the ideas the directors had for the show.

What I wasn't counting on?

Mismanagement and complete non-profit chaos that almost resulted in the school being shut down permanently. Less than a week after the auditions (and I was the first audition on the first day of auditions; 2 days of auditions were being held two weeks apart), the board of directors notified all the staff and faculty that they couldn't make payroll past that day. I'm fairly certain that the board wouldn't like me publicizing that fact, but it's not exactly secret knowledge.

A lot has happened in the intervening three weeks, I believe for the better. Many of the previous board members resigned. There's been restructuring. A new Executive Director. More serious fundraising efforts. I've been hearing about this in snippets for the last three weeks, as I've been on holiday far far away from the circus (in more ways than one). One of the casualties, however, at least temporarily?

The showcase.

Which had been scheduled for 3 weeks from now.
and has now been postponed, delayed, or canceled, tbd.

There are thousands of things more important than my crankiness about all this. But I am cranky about it -- it just seems like something's always off with the timing. First being sick for Muddy Buddy last year, then the ankle injury which still isn't 100%, now this. Grumble.

and there yet may be a performance opportunity in the midst of all of it -- at least one of the fundraising ideas will be an open house, presumably with a short show.

still. bad timing.

ah well. other doors will open.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

every step

last weekend, I ran a 5k race in the park.
it's truly my backyard race. I did it for the first time last year, on far too little sleep and far too much stress. Last year, I had a time goal, and a secondary time goal and a "run every step". I made the secondary time goal, but neither of the others.

this year, I had a simple goal. Run it.
Overall, I was slower. ~0:30/mile slower. Notably slower.
But I ran it.
All of it.

despite the ankle.
despite the fact that I've been training trapeze, doing prep hikes for an upcoming trip, working too much.
despite the fact that run training was squeezed in.
and that some times I realized that between all these activities, I hadn't a day without a serious workout for >2 weeks. yes, it's a balance of strength and cardio. yes, it's different muscles. but sometimes, the body just wants a day off.
despite the fact that it was a good 15-20 degrees warmer than my preferred and usual run temperature.
despite all that.

I ran it. Slow and steady and negative-split. and managed not to be too disappointed in my time. I knew I hadn't trained for a better time.

and then hung out while a friend finished her walk/run version and laughed when she turned to me and said "I was smiling when I crossed the finish line and this is all your fault." another one hooked.

followed by a lovely breakfast at a cafe reading the paper in the sun with El Bandito, then a short hike in the woods. Ok, the hike was longer than the run :)

February's been busy.
This Sunday's an audition with my trapeze piece. Nervous.

Friday, February 4, 2011


Trapeze isn't a sport where you compete, really (although there are amazing elite circus competitions). And that's not to say that aerialists aren't competitive. We're supportive and friendly to each other, and excited when someone does something impressive or unique. But we are competitive.

It's a little like ice-skating. Or gymnastics. And a little bit like dance.

But there aren't necessarily specific tricks that are benchmarks. There aren't meets or races; there isn't a scoring system. Measuring progress can be difficult sometimes.

One reason I do trapeze is the way it pushes me to constantly challenge myself, to push myself past a comfort level and do things which scare me.

You learn some tricks in safety lines, so that you can be caught when (not if) you fall off the bar or land awkwardly in the process of learning a trick.

Today, I finally took a trick out of safety lines that I've been working on for a very long time. It's not actually that difficult, just somewhat risky. From standing on the trapeze to ankle hang.

Finally out of lines.

There's a glass of bubbly on the coffee table to celebrate tonight. Only one -- I'm running a 5K this weekend and working on my routine for an audition for the circus center's showcase. The one I'd hoped to do in August, before the ankle went kerplooey.

But I am grinning. Finally. And it felt good. Solid. No hesitation.

That's a milestone.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

some days are bouncers who won't let you in.*

Some runs are easy.
Some runs are hard.

Sometimes you can predict which its going to be, either by distance or training plan or even how you feel starting out.

And sometimes you can't.

True. Self-evident.
But worth repeating.

Last week, I had a wonderful run. Which I went into with no expectations for speed or even distance, but both were respectable. And more than that, it just felt easy.

I fully expected tonight's short run to be miserable. I'm attempting to fight off the bug that seems to be felling my friends, and I've definitely been a little under the weather. In fact, I skipped Monday's run because I just felt fatigued and I hadn't given my body a full rest day in two weeks. So Monday was just my usual bike commute and a nice stroll with El Bandito.

Since I'd skipped Monday's run, I didn't want to skip tonight. And I am the woman who claims to believe trapeze cures the common cold.** However, I expected it to be hard.

And ... it wasn't, really. My breathing was more labored than I'd hoped. My legs felt slightly leaden, and all I really wanted was to flop on the sofa with a book.

And then it was done. And it wasn't so bad. I certainly didn't feel any sicker than when I left the house.

There will be more hard runs, I'm sure. And more easy ones. And eventually, as the ankle gets stronger again, longer ones.

and now, with footnotes!

* I've never actually had this happen to me, but I love the lyric and it seemed like a good title. And I've certainly had days like that, metaphorically.

** Actually, I'm far too much of a scientist to really believe that. But I claim it anyway whenever I'm ailing and El Bandito questions my intelligence when I go to the circus gym anyway.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

gratitude, a list to start the year

The last few days of the year, I just felt too reclusive to try and get words down for a final day of gratitude.

Not because I'm not grateful. For things big and little. (For fish red and blue).

Because I am. Because this project, started by Jote and expanded outward at her invitation, has had the lovely effect of making me appreciate so many of the tiny things that make my days so bright. and thus, a list of gratitudes, great and small.

1. home. these walls, this space. on a fundamental level (having shelter, my needs met) but also on a more etherial one. that there's a large apartment, full of my life. where I'm happy.

2. a glass of wine on a Sunday night. or any night, but it happens to be Sunday as I start this.

3. the women with whom I walk, individually. No metaphors here, but there are 3 women with whom I semi-frequently walk. Women with whom my friendships have developed in the regular pace of our strides through the city. Sometimes it takes a week or a month of emails to fit our schedules, but it's a wonderful combination of fresh air and conversation.

4. travel, and coming home.

5. photographs. El Bandito has become the photographer in our relationship. Sometimes, it frustrates me when he stops to capture something on a trailside and I want to keep going, but I love having our lives documented. And he's a damn good photographer too.

6. dogs. Not our dogs, sadly -- living in an urban apartment and having very full lives has made having dogs nigh unto impossible. In college, I used to borrow a couple of fabulous canine companions, and I miss them. and the jumbled joy of canine company.

7. the great lake. Oh, I know there are 5 of them, but only one of them is *my* lake. I got a few strolls lakeside, with its wide-open horizon and cold winds, in our recent travels. it's a touchstone.

8. the way this set of posts reminded me of how lucky I am to have the partner I do, but also showed me that other people are just as fully intertwined with the loves-of-their-lives as I am. Especially poignant for me in that two of our good friends separated in December; I don't know whether their roads will converge again and it's a tricky balancing act because I care about them both, individually. So it was reassuring, comforting and delightful to read half-a-dozen posts of strong women loving. And to know someone else tosses her book onto her husband's pillow rather than turn over.

9. running two easy miles on a rainy Sunday. my ankle didn't complain. my lungs didn't complain. it felt easy again.

10. the fridge is full of tasty and healthy ingredients.

11. starting off the new year with a clean bedroom, even if we haven't unpacked our suitcases. El Bandito attacked the room with a vigor .

12. a cat melted across my legs. these cats. the hours of entertainment and purring snuggles. their predecessors, who taught me life lessons in a way I can't explain.

13. lack of obligation to finish this in a timely manner, as 48 hours elapsed while I worked and edited a freelance job and went for another run.

14. merino wool shirts. I bought one for hiking in 2009, and quickly added several more when I realized how perfect they were for drizzly weather or as a base layer.

15. catching an hour's stroll with a friend between the holidays and her departure on vacation. a quick catch-up.

16. the passing of the solstice and the growing length of the days. I know it's only a few minutes, but the difference out my office window at 4 pm is astounding.

17. precision.

18. being awed. I know that might sound odd, but sometimes, the world is so astounding, there's no other word. that my life is so full of things that can truly overwhelm me with their beauty or brilliance? something to be grateful for indeed.

19. vacation time. limited, but needed. and concurrently, the tickets we just bought to go to an island antipode known for nocturnal flightless birds and the setting for a trilogy of movies.

20. napkins, silverware, glass food storage containers -- somehow, eating with real utensils out of a glass dish makes leftovers at my desk a more enjoyable experience than plastic.

21. the wonders of the internet. not just for the connections with random strangers, but for the reconnection with old friends.

22. the way that this project enticed and challenged me to actually post to my neglected blog.

Nowhere near all the things or people that ought to be on a list of gratitude, but enough to start the year on the right note. Enough to remind me that my life is truly a grand adventure. Perhaps, even, enough to bring me back to add to this list throughout the year.