Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Blog also Rises (17)

This morning I headed out for my run, saw the sunrise *jaw dropping*, and ran right back inside to get my camera. I can’t honestly remember seeing a more intensely bright, fiery, glowing orange sunrise. It was truly spectacular.

So I stopped to take some pictures (which barely do it justice), cranked up the Berlin, and trotted off feeling like I just got a massive dose of bliss shot straight into my veins (and at 153 beats per minute it was circulating quickly). 

And we all know now where Berlin takes my thoughts, so I started to remember “all the boys I’ve loved before”…and why I even loved them. I think I’ve had maybe 5 significant/memorable loves in my life. I am not counting my crushes in grade school. Because then there would be some embarrassing
amount more. And of those 5, there are 3 that *glow*. They glow because I know how much they loved me back. That makes a difference. If I’m going to be out there on that shaky love limb, they have to be right there with me, just as vulnerable and exposed, and just as stupid twitterpated as me. Not saying I felt anything less intensely for the other 2, but it wasn’t as safely reciprocated. They will still be memorable and significant in their own way. Even with a bit of mystery…did they truly love me back?  Will I ever know? What would that change? And if you think there is a hint of resentment on my part for falling for these guys without their willingness to give it up for me too, you’re probably right. I mean, come on.

It’s just something inside these men that I recognized. And so I let them into my bubble, and then let my love for them into my heart. Let’s just say, the right ventricle. Like I breathed them in, let them into my pulmonary veins through my lungs, then the left side of my heart pumped them through the
Mercedes Benz symbol-shaped aortic valve into my entire body, into my brain, then back through the superior vena cava into my right atrium, through the tricuspid valve, and then safely tucked back away again in that crescent-moon shaped ventricle. Just stuck there, ready to be pumped through again as needed.
They are there; sometimes causing my heart to skip beats, sometimes ache, sometimes pound with fire, and sometimes just remain inert yet ever present.

I can’t really discuss the order or when they appeared in my life without revealing their identity, and this isn’t really about them anyway. It’s about me, and how they made/make me feel. Those glowers, they’ll keep glowing. At least I married one of them, we can glow together now. :-)

"Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired."  - Robert Frost

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Blog*mas (16)

'Tis the season, right?  It's the most unusually warm Christmas in Denver.  50s, sunny, no snow.  I rode 30 miles this morning and mostly saw people out walking their dogs.  Actually, I saw two gentlemen out jogging in jeans and leather jackets.  ?
But I thought as a nice reminder of what the holiday season/life is truly about (since most people I know are crazy busy with shopping and cooking and spending money), I found another e.e. cummings poem to celebrate the small, beautiful, (and sometimes tragically fleeting) magical moments in life.

Poem 33:

christ but they're few

all(beyond win
or lose)good true
beautiful things

god how he sings

the robin(who
'll be silent in
a moon or two)

So Merry Christmas, all.  Listen to the birds sing.  Treasure your special moments.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Blog-cardiogram 15

This morning was another one of those foggy, dream-like misty mornings.  Cool thing was, the waning cold full moon was still up high enough to see it.
I headed off on my run, my breath coming out in clouds in front of me, swirling in with the fog.
Brought my phone with me on my run so I'd have a camera to try and capture just how ethereal this morning was.
This was the view as I turn West onto the Highline Canal trail.  See the moon peeking through the trees?  Beautiful.
This week at work I have been learning as much as I can about pulmonary arterial hypertension.  So I've been reading articles, patient brochures about right heart catheterization, reading info online, getting training on the registry I'll be working with, and interestingly - following the study physician and nurses around the PH clinic in the Hospital.
One of the most memorable things so far was looking at echocardiograms.  These are done with a sort of ultra-sound machine, capturing images of the heart from different angles.
On the computer, it's just like a black and white movie of the heart, with the EKG components running along below, like a sub-title to your innermost film.  Heart valves fluttering like delicate petals.  Beating, pulsing, so fragile and yet so strong.  Angles showing me the atria and ventricles. 
The crescent moon-shaped right ventricle, working so hard in these patients to just pump blood into their lungs from their usually dilated right atrium and regurgitating tricuspid valve, through their enlarged pulmonary artery.
Cardiac fellows sit in front of these images all day, interpreting results, logging Q-axis and abnormal heart rhythms, and so much more.  To them, it's narrating the patients health and heart function, cardiac output, degree of prolapse and/or regurgitation, etc.  Analyzing the electrical firings of the right and left nerve bundles, triggering the exact right contractions to make it all work.  Strange currencies.
To me, it was beautiful.  When do you ever get to see your beating heart?  The organ that most represents emotions and love.  Throbbing ventricles, flittering little valves, keeping you alive, feeding your body it's oxygen.
I wanted to ask the fellows if they see these images in their dreams, but it seemed like that would be lost on them and would just seem like a weird question from "new girl".  It's their job.  It's their data, their science.  It's that to me too, but so much more.
Beating out life's rhythm, pounding in my chest to keep my body moving down the trail, hurting with life's heartaches, filling with love and gratitude, swelling with pride and affection, becoming a tangible representation of everything *meaningful* and *felt* in life.
I want my own echo.  I want to see my heart in my chest, make it real.  See my own strange currencies.  See that despite the aches, it's just a beautiful, crescent moon-shaped four-chambered machine, capable of so much more.  Capable of anything.  I want to feel it now.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Quick Blog #14

This week I started my new job as "Professional Research Assistant" at the University of Colorado.  Still not actually clear if I work for the School of Medicine, the University Health Sciences Center, or the Hospital.  If I had to guess, SOM.  ??
The campus is huge, modern (with the exception of the original Fitzsimmons Army base buildings), and strangely deserted.  With weird stone and metal giant sphere sculptures.  I work in the Leprino Office Building, which is funny because I have been in the Leprino cheese research and milk plant buildings in Denver and Fort Morgan.  I have stuck my hands in milk with rennin added, which feels like soft milky jello.  So everyday now, I will report to work in the building I affectionately refer to as "the cheese building".
I didn't get my computer set up until Friday, when I discovered Pandora IS indeed, blocked.  I <3 my Droid.  In fact, I spent way too long fashioning a make-shift little lanyard loop with some wire and hooked it to my neck ID badges and listened to Pandora most of the day while unpacking my stuff.  It's weird to see all my old things in a new space.  And it's all stuff people from previous jobs have either given me, or that I've kept as souvenirs.  So sentimental.  So comforting and painful at the same time.
Much like something that happened to me on my run Friday morning.  It was frigid cold, bleak, overcast, barren, frosty, and seemed like evening instead of dawn.  It just felt sad and empty.  Then on my way back home, a snowflake fell from the sky and gently *touched* my cheek.
As if to say, "Hey.  Even in this gray strange world, in a cold, unexpected place, something is here to reach out and touch you, to offer you peace and comfort."

Friday, December 10, 2010

Blog-day the 13th

I went for a ride yesterday and headed East instead of West.  Just to see what was out there.  New views. 
I also wore a new pair of sunglasses.  They were cheap, but have those little nose pads that rest on the sides of your nose as opposed to the pairs I have now that are plastic frames that sit right on the bridge of my nose.  To most people there would be no difference, but I have had my nose broken 4 times.  First time in junior high by a hockey puck, second time (thankfully) under anesthesia, third time was self-inflicted (by doing a pull-up into a door frame), fourth time under anesthesia again.  Apparently the third time was pretty gruesome.  The doc that fixed it said not only had I dislocated the nasal bones from my skull; they were shattered.  Several layers of cadaveric and synthetic cartilage later, and I have a sore and tender nose as
you can see by the look on my face (this was about 24 hours after the fourth break).  So anyway, new sunglasses to help take the pressure off the poor shattered remnants of the bridge of my nose.  And what I didn't notice in the store was immediately obvious when I set off on my ride.  The tint on the lenses turned the sky this surreal and bright turquoise blue and the dead leaves and grass on the sides of the road had this strange rosy-orange glow to them. 
So new views on new trail direction in crazy techni-color.  Heading East was not as productive as I would have liked.  I lost the trail somewhere under the highway (225) and ended up sort of diddling around Aurora until I figured I'd just go back the way I came. 
And I tried to deal with the turmoil that has been my emotional state this week.  Uuuuugh the drama is exhausting. 
In grad school I started working as a "Professional Research Assistant" (PRA) for a few years.  I handled sputum samples, input data from questionnaires, and probably most importantly (at least to me, probably not for the study), maintain contact with the study participants.  This involved long phone calls, extensive internet and credit report research to find phone numbers, and occasionally calling homes to ask for someone who had recently passed away.  I actually enjoyed the work (unless sputum leaked onto my desk ew).  Then I got it in my head that with my master's degree about to be completed that I needed to be doing something bigger and better.  I thought I'd find it at Denver Health.  Instead of sharing everything I didn't like about that place, I'll just say "I didn't find my bigger and better there".  So I transitioned from research to environmental health. 
I took a job as an "Environmental Health Specialist" at Tri-County Health Department.  Basically, a health inspector.  I was trained to conduct regulatory inspections of retail food establishments (restaurants, grocery stores, convenient stores, etc.), child care facilities, pools, hot tubs, on-site sewage disposal systems (septics systems), and answer phone calls and handle complaints from the public.  I also went into remediated meth labs to verify the contamination was at an acceptable level.  Good grief.  Every day was completely different, and always busy.  I picked dead squirrels up off the road and had a very shocking and unpleasant experience involving said dead squirrels and maggots. *shivering*.  I set mosquito light traps, scraped baby poo out of diapers into sample containers, closed down hotel pools, dealt with failing septic systems, got yelled at by angry restaurant owners when their walk-in refrigerators were running at 53 degrees and all their food had to be condemned.  I also got promoted and transferred to a different office.  Then an opening came up at the State health department, and was hired on to work with them. 
Similar job, just bigger.  No pools or septics, but add milk plants and farms and warehouses and processors, tanning beds, prisons, youth correctional facilities, non-community ground water (wells) and plan reviews.  I had to learn all about exhaust systems installed over dish machines and stoves in restaurants and learned more about high-temperature short-time pasteurization than I ever thought I would.  I also had to travel to different parts of the state to do these inspections.  It was totally fun at first - I had never been to the Great Sand Dunes before, and got to spend time in Glenwood Springs.  Lots of time.
I enjoyed seeing all the different parts of the state. I can honestly say I would've never been to Rifle Falls otherwise. Then I got that weird virus infection. It was already kinda hard to be away from home for 4 days at a time, but worse to be losing feeling slowly over my entire body while in Glenwood Springs.  So it became my mission to find myself another job.  Inspecting was certainly interesting, but challenging.  I'm not a confrontational person, and as an inspector that's what I had to do.  It was a constant personal challenge.  Add that to being numb and isolated away from home, and my general state of "can't sit still for too long" and I started looking elsewhere for jobs.
I found one that sounded really interesting with the State, different division.  I would've helped county health departments get insurance reimbursement for vaccinations given, which would've allowed these health departments to afford more vaccine and help more people.  Something I actually cared about!  I interviewed first for this position the day after my spinal tap.  I could barely walk and my head hurt, but I nailed the interview.  A week later, they wanted me to meet the director for a second interview.  This was the day before I went back for the blood patch to plug my poor leaking brain.  So during this interview I was faint, pale, shaky, covered in raw milk (from my sampling route), my head hurt like I didn't think was possible, and I wasn't sure if I was going to pass out or throw up or both.  But somehow also nailed this interview.  Job was mine.  Except then HR initiated the hiring process by opening it to the public and I didn't make it.  Really??  Thanks for that, Universe.
I had several other interviews over the following months.  Then, on a whim, applied for a fairly vague job posting at University of Colorado in the Pulmonary Sciences division.  I figured since I was "detail-oriented" and had worked with lung stuff before I'd give it a whirl.  HIRED!  Boo-ya. 
So now, here I am, between jobs, freaking out.  I was a really good inspector!  I got high levels of compliance, got my work done, was dependable, reliable, and had some damn good friends at work.  And it wasn't so bad when I wasn't stuck in my hotel with a piece of cake the size of my head every night (already losing weight without that temptation).  What if I go nuts sitting in a cube all day?  What if I don't like research anymore?  What if they make me do Institutional Review Board submissions *make slitting wrists gesture*?  What if I have to do difficult statistics I don't even remember how to do anymore?  What if I can't stream Pandora on my computer there?  What if the girls in the cubes next to me talk all day really loud on the phone or have fake nails that clack on the keyboards and feels like they are typing ON MY BRAIN?  And now I have to pay for parking and I won't get to see my buddies anymore....did I make the right choice?  What if I miss my giant delicious chocolate cake?
Anyway, I guess I am now heading East.  Different direction.  New views.  Hopefully I don't lose my trail under the highway.  Or at least, hopefully I'll find my path eventually.  Right, to Zion?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The 12th Blog of Punctuation

It's pretty much December in Denver now.  I mean, I know it is actually December in Denver, but now it's starting to feel like it.  It's cold, it's dark, the trees are bare and gray, the ground is brown, and the sun is at that tedious angle in the sky that no matter where you're looking it's RIGHT THERE burning a hole in your retina.
It's probably my least favorite time of the year. 
I have several topics on which to blog today:
1) I am changing careers.  AAAAAAAA
2) I went for a ride on Sunday that had several amusing highlights
3) I ran this morning and for the first time in a long time I had that "I must've swallowed broken glass because there is no other explanation as to why my stomach would feel this way" feeling.
4) I got a new smartphone
To give brevity it's props, I'll select the topic from the list above that is the least emotional and scary because that's how I like to approach life in general.  Ignore the big scary things and deal with the fun stuff up front.  WAY easier.  Ha ha.  I'll get back to items 1-3 at a later date.  Or just really item 1 is the big deal.  Big scary holy crap my life is in transition deal.
So let's talk about item 4, my new smartphone!!  It's stellar.  For as over-the-top digitally connected as I am, it's a dream come true.  My possibilities for communication and entertainment are endless.  Limited only by the battery life and my skill at using the device. 
It connects to my facebook account, so now all my facebook friends are in their own "contact list" folder, and I can check for updates and postings with one swipe.  It connects to my gmail and hotmail accounts, so I have another "contact list" with those emails.  It even imported people's facebook or google profiles, so I have pictures and websites and birthdays and whatever else people have associated with their accounts.  I KNOW ALL bwa-ha-ha.
But a feature that I truly appreciate, as a child born both of technology and from a literary and poetic father, is the virtual keyboard available to me.  Let me attempt to explain why this actually matters. 
Because there is a difference between the spoken word and the written word.  That's obvious.  But in order to communicate most effectively through writing, it's incredibly useful to have all the punctuation marks available.  My old phone was limited.  It had no " or : or ; or / or () or *.  Try texting something with subtle humor or anything even slightly complicated requiring explanation without those little marks.  Seriously, no parentheses??  WTF?  I couldn't even make an emoticon.  I had to type out 'smiley face'.  And no backslash?  How am I supposed to say "and/or"??  :-$
And yes people, this is how intricately I choose to text.  To me, it's not just a simple easy form of quick communication.  It's how I am expressing myself to my friends.  And I want no limits.  The only thing it cannot do is italicize or bold words.  But I have found ALL CAPS has a similar effect.
A favorite poet of mine may best represent the differences between hearing something and how using punctuation and spacing can really change how one reads something.  e.e.cummings.

And now, poem 7 from "73 poems":


so damn sweet when Anybody-

matter who,some

of course)

or on the other

your oldest
for instance( or


' wife)

-does doesn't unsays says looks smiles

or simply Is
what makes
you feel you

6 or 6
teen or sixty

but for once



Now if you were to read that aloud to someone: "WTF?", right?  But reading it the way he writes it, you know what he means.  He means, "isn't it friggin awesome when someone (maybe a hot blonde ['blonde' gets it's own line to show you how HOT he thinks blonde is], your old friend, or I guess maybe even your wife) does something (or doesn't say, or says, etc.) that takes you away from where you are, feeling unrecognized, feeling unspecial, and makes the You you really are just all of a sudden float above everyone else and everything tangible."  Because they just simply Are and they touched you in some way that that deep inner You is now special.  Just imagine that feeling.  I know you know it.  As he says, "it's so damn sweet".
Comic provided by "Cow and Boy"

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Eleven blogs dancing...

I got up a little earlier than usual this morning.  We have to give our cat this awful medication and it can take a little extra time.  That, and my garage door has been refusing to open.  So I set my alarm ahead 15 minutes to make sure I would have enough time to poison the cat and get access to my car without feeling rushed to get to work on time.
That said, I headed out for my run 15 minutes earlier than usual.  Funny how this time of year at that time of day everything changes so quickly.  I mean the sun rises later and later each day, now I think it's coming up after 7am.  So leaving at 6:50 before the dawn changed my whole sunrise experience.
It was a little overcast this morning, lots of high wispy clouds.  And they were all on fire.  When I left the house they were all intensely pink blending with more orange on the eastern horizon.  My route takes me west first, and on the western horizon was one of those UFO-shaped clouds.  The only white one in the sky.  The rest of the sky shifted from bright hot pink to a burning orange, then just flat gray at the moment I hit my marker and turn around to go back east.
Then with the sky all gray and just the tops of the trees lit up by the sun, I see it - the blazing yellow spot in the clouds when the sun came up over the horizon. 
And this all just happens without me having to do anything at all.  So then I started to think about all the things I used to think about when I was a little girl that would happen to me when I got older.  They were all events like, the day I could get my ears pierced or start shaving my legs.  Drinking coffee the first time.  My first kiss.  The day I got my first period.  The day I'd start driving.  The day I graduated high school.  My first day of college.  Graduating college.  Getting a full time job.  Falling in love.  Getting married.  I can actually distinctly remember all these events (except first day of college - hangover maybe?). 
Well, I can place check marks next to all those standard rites of passage.  And after that, besides having babies (no thanks), what are my next standard "firsts"?  And then the realization: Duh, I have to make them up. 
First half-marathon.  First new road bike.  First reckless car purchase.  First major career change.  First major career change back. what?  Stay crunchy.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Blog X

The seed of this blog was planted by Susan Boyle.  Well, really Susan Boyle singing a Leonard Cohen song "Hallelujah".  I had heard k.d. lang's version which is of course, hauntingly beautiful. 
Anyway, I was out in Richmond visiting the in-laws for Thanksgiving and we were listening to Susan Boyle singing Hallelujah on her newest cover CD release, and discussing the lyrics.  My mother-in-law couldn't hear them all clearly except for the part about being tied to a chair, so we read the liner notes and my husband starting explaining the Biblical references to King David and Samson, but Mother-in-law already knew the stories and dismissed further explanation as the "tied to chair" reference made her uncomfortable.
I wanted more.  And I'll tell you why (has to do with the chair...).
Songs about love resonate somewhere deep in my being.  Especially songs about crazy, passionate, heated, can't think about anything else, helplessly devoted, devoid of logic and reason and control, obsessive love.  The kind of love you don't want to tell anyone else about because they will raise their eyebrows and shake their heads.  They're just jealous.
King David being so overcome with desire for Bathsheba: "you saw her bathing on the roof, her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you" that he seduces her, impregnates her, baits her husband into coming back from war to trick him into thinking the child is his, then sends her husband back to the front lines to die after he refuses himself the pleasures his troops could not experience, is crazy love.
Samson sharing the secret source of his God-given gift of strength with Delilah so that she could betray him and weaken him for defeat from the Philistines: "she tied you to a kitchen chair, she broke your throne, and she cut your hair and from your lips she drew the Hallelujah" leaving him weak and vulnerable.  He's captured, eyes gouged out, imprisoned and forced to grind grain until his hair grows back and pleads with the Lord for his strength to return, then breaks the pillars of the building in which he is held captive, bringing it down on his enemies and himself.  That's helplessly devoted love.
There are two other songs I heard this morning where the singers, so infatuated, that after sharing their feelings are reduced to wailing in their joyful misery.  Oh Bruce, I'm on fire too.  And Bono, I'd give myself away to you.
"Tell me now baby is he good to you, can he do to you the things that I do, I can take you higher, I'm on fire".  This woman keeps him up at night, makes him soak his sheets with sweat, nothing can put out this fire but her.  I won't even share where this song takes me.  Dark sticky happy places (sorry Dad). 
"My hands are tied, my body bruised, she got me with nothing to win and nothing left to lose."  He waits on a bed of nails for this woman.  This woman who tortures him, doesn't give him enough of herself, he can't stand it. 
Look at them (see videos below), they can't even control themselves.  They sing, they moan, they wail, beg and plead for that love.
THIS is the kind of love I love.  Drive me crazy, take me to the abyss, cry for me in your pleadingly beautiful tenor voice.  Be utterly devoted.  Let me tie you to a chair (or the other way around works for me too...), watch longingly as I bathe in the moonlight, give yourself up to me.  And be a strong enough man to break the ropes I tie you down with, if only then to rise and hold me down with your strength. 
Or at least, this is the intense desire these songs makes me feel is love.  And don't even get me started on Robert Plant.
Enjoy the videos.  :-)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Blog that Comes 9th in Sequence

It was another absurdly cold morning.  I am now questioning why I choose to exercise outdoors in the mornings.  In the summer it makes perfect sense - it's the only time of day that isn't burning hot.  This time of year, not so much.  I think it's just something I like to do first thing.  Well, coffee first thing, then exercise. 
This morning was foggy, which happens maybe once or twice a year in Colorado.  It's cool and mysterious and I was anxious to get out on my bike and ride "in the clouds".  Convinced the same ensemble that kept me reasonably warm on Tuesday would keep me warm today, I headed out towards the Reservoir with high hopes and good intentions.  But it was so so cold!  The humidity from the fog seeped through all my layers (fleecy vest, warmer hat, and glove liners included) and didn't stop until it hit my bones.  There it proceeded to freeze me slowly from the inside out.
Since I can't say I enjoyed many parts of this ride and it was cut short due to fear of frostbite, I'll briefly summarize and then move on to something I found entertaining.  The fog was neat.  It misted in and out of the trees.  My stronger legs, more gears, and lighter bike made the uphill to the Reservoir less horrible (not a fan of hills.  Maybe that gene skipped me.).  I rode a little path to the swim beach.  Bikes don't like to ride on sand.  Turned around, went further down the trail, not knowing at all where I was headed.  Kept hearing gunshots from what sounded like all around me.  There is a shooting range somewhere near the reservoir, but I don't know where it is.  Stopped to eat.  All blood once circulating through my body went to my belly to digest the measly little bar I put in it.  No more blood in hands.  Only pain.  Pain and suffering.  Turned around and pedaled home in misery and defeat (weenie 21 miles today). 
Remembered something kind of funny from when I was in like, 1st grade.  I remembered hearing the song "Send me an Angel" by Real Life and thinking how the lyrics just spoke to me.  Like when I was 7 years old I could understand what it meant to be so desperately looking for love you don't know what to do.  "Don't tell a lie, don't be false or untrue, it all comes back to you" sunk in to my little girl's heart - I had lied to my best friend about something (I don't even remember what now) and was feeling regretful because I was caught.  "Open fire, on my burning heart, I've never been lucky in love" was like they knew my pain - my crush liked another girl better.  Oh Real Life, you understand!  Send me an Angel, come rescue me in my tragic suffering.
Then later when I started a new Hebrew school and fell in love with the teacher there, I was sure that Mister Mister knew exactly the words I needed to say to this guy for him to fall for me too.  "Take these broken wings and learn to fly again (my wings were broken from the aforementioned crush not liking me back), learn to live so free.  When we hear the voices sing, the book of love will open up and let us in".  What guy wouldn't understand that sound logic?  It made perfect sense.
In high school when Nirvana was so huge and I was dating a bass player (this was the second bass player I dated - I married the third), I attached to "Come as you are, as you were, as I want you to be" because this meant he loved the person I was, the person I used to be, and the person I was becoming.  High school is all about change and finding yourself, right?  I didn't need to be embarrassed that I used to be a big nerd (I use the term "used to be" loosely here).  I was cool now.  I would soon be even cooler.  I mean, I liked Nirvana so I was awesome.
College found Tori Amos.  "Boys on my left side, boys on my right side, boys in the middle and you're not here" - had plenty of guys interested in me (I was pretty awesome) but not the one I wanted.  Then when I had him and he left me out of jealousy, "Building tumbling down, didn't know our love was so small, couldn't stand it out".
Anyway, I found it amusing that I have been finding (if not forcing) meaning into songs my whole life.  It's just one way I can channel my emotions when they seem overwhelming to me.  I am full of love, I am overflowing with girliness, I don't know what to do with my abundant passions, and when someone like Berlin can reach into my soul and pull out lyrics, who am I to argue?  I just accept it.  It's always been that way.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

King Blog the 8th

Tuesday morning I had the opportunity to ride my bike before a doctor's appointment.
It wasn't yet windy, and it was a little warmer than it was on Friday.  With those two advantages, my glove liners, my fleecy vest, and a better hat, (alas no hot tub), I set off.  I only had about an hour so I couldn't go too far.  And after that ice patch I hit Friday I was a bit nervous of all the frozen piles of leaves and black-ice looking spots on the path, so I only made it about 12.5 miles. 
There is a stretch of trail that I know my Dad used to ride when he visited Denver.  It's the part of the Cherry Creek bike path that starts to head east towards the Reservoir.  I haven't made it up and around the Reservoir yet, but I intend to.  I feel kind of like I'm channeling Dad a bit on this stretch.  Maybe at like, half his speed and intensity, but it's still cool to think of the connection.
One thing I was impressed with (in a sort of grossly fascinating kind of way) was the amount of snot that my head was able to produce in such a short time.  I was convinced every time I blew it would be the last, but somehow there was always more.  Like, an absurd amount.  My water bottle bounced out of it's cage 1.25 miles into the ride, shooting off like a torpedo into the bushes never to be seen again.  So I was certain I would maybe dehydrate enough to turn off this crazy nose faucet.  Not so.
*Side note - I am still practicing how to successfully execute a "farmer's blow" on a bicycle.  I'm fine when upright, but somehow being bent over throws me off.  It's getting a little better - I more often avoid hitting myself with the snot than not, but occasionally still get a few nasty mistakes.  Once it even blew up and covered my sunglasses.  Not even sure how that happened, but it got me.  I think this time I did hit my shoe once, but hey, practice will make perfect.*
I even have some fantastic prescription nose spray designed specifically to stop runny noses.  In fact, I have been diagnosed with "exercise-induced rhinorrhea".  Hilarious-sounding term for "my nose runs like crazy whenever I am outside doing anything active".  This includes activities like: running, biking, walking, standing, driving my car, etc.  Basically if it is cold and/or involves movement of some kind, my nose activates.  The volume seems to be determined by how quickly I am moving and how cold it is.  So on cold, fast moving bike rides - garden hose.  It's disgusting.  More than you wanted to know?
However, this particularly runny ride was apparently a head cold just waiting to kick my ass.  I had a sore throat since riding on Friday, but ignored it with the help of my good friend Tylenol.  It was just waiting for a couple nights of restless sleep and one more nice cold morning to tear me down.  Which it did, sitting in my cube yesterday afternoon, slowly slumping further and further into my chair unable to breathe until I slugged myself home and onto my couch.  Wah.
So, thank you, prescription rhinorrhea nose spray, NETI pot, 12-hour Extra-Moisturizing Afrin, Allegra, Tylenol (and close cousin Tylenol PM), anti-seizure meds, and Xanax for helping me sleep through the night (9.5 hours god save the queen) and feel almost human today.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

7th Blog

Took off this morning for my run and felt so free.
I remember when I first started running it was impossible.  Everything hurt, I'd get side cramps, my lungs would burn, and I couldn't make it anywhere without grabbing at my side and limping along.  And then, it just happened to get easier.  I kept going!  I entered a 5k race, then a 10k.  The Bolder Boulder - super fun.  And finally, the Carlsbad Half-Marathon, January 16, 2005.  
Pic taken by Carlsbad Half-marathon crew.
My mom and second cousin also entered the race.  We separated early, but I loved the experience.  It was a there-and-back course, with the first half being all uphill (making the second half a little easier).  I had two advantages - I had trained at 5280' and this race was at sea level.  I also had trained in the winter, and this race was 60 degrees.  And I was glowing after 10 miles - the farthest I had run until this race.
I didn't finish in any remarkable time, but I finished.  And haven't done it since.
But still, running now isn't such a chore.  I've run with the flu, with hangovers, in the bitter cold, in the rain, in the snow, with chest colds, with head colds, with fevers, with sore muscles, and all because I CAN.  I couldn't before, and now I can. 

The only time I didn't run was after my foot surgery - bunionectomy back in 2006.  But while I wasn't running (I started swimming instead) I dreamed of running.

Pic courtesy of Steve Cram

Today, realizing in general I don't feel very passionately about much (*shoulder shrug - meh*), I feel passionately about exercise.  And equal and civil rights.  I can't even put it into words how strongly I feel about this.  Which is weird, because like I said before, usually, "meh".  Whatever. 
But it's good to have these realizations I suppose.  Things I would consider picketing for, or something.  Personal passions.  Strong emotions.
So let me emote a bit about exercise.  I love it.  I love how when I find a new activity, or find a new strength within myself, I fall in love with it all over again.  I make it mix tapes (in the form of playlists on my iPods).  I dream about it.  I miss it when I don't get to see (do) it.  It brings out in me the urge to write poems about it.  I associate songs with it, it's like "our song".  It makes me stronger, it makes me feel good about myself, it makes me want to be around it more.  I buy it presents (new running shoes, bike accessories, etc.).  I write it little love notes (by logging data on  I relish in the endorphins.  I even relish in the pain (lactic acid) it causes me, knowing it's just part of the love game. 

Photo by Jim Morehouse

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Sixth Blog

Yesterday while driving home from Glenwood Springs I stopped at the Pearl Izumi outlet in Silverthorne to pick up some cold weather riding gear.  This included (only) tights and a jacket.  I had already bought a hat, but had not needed to use it yet.
Let me give you some background so when I explain what turned out to be a miserable failure it will make a little more sense.
First, I have run in the cold.  I have run in CRAZY cold, and been all right.  I ran once when it was 5 degrees outside and survived.  Second, I put a lot of faith in Pearl Izumi's description of "thermal" and "cold weather essential".  And third, I just wanted to get on my bike today because I had the day off and before it snowed.
So when I attempted to open the garage door and it was frozen shut, I ignored this omen and repeatedly hit the opener until it gave way.
I would say the inadequacy of my gear was revealed within 10 minutes.  I kept telling myself, oh, you'll warm up with the exercise, just like when you run in the cold.  What I did not consider was that I was making my own wind chill factor.  So the fact that it was 24, and I was riding about 18 miles an hour, created a wind chill factor (courtesy of the National Weather Service's chart) of approximately 11 degrees. 
I am not certain in which order the coldest parts of my body revealed themselves (it may have even been simultaneously), but I am certain it was my chin, my ear lobes, my hands, and my toes.  After about 25 minutes my earlobes and chin must have frozen because I stopped noticing them.  Or I was too distracted by what was now agony in my toes and fingers.  SO COLD.  Couldn't shift.  Didn't want to.  Couldn't brake.  Didn't want to.  Couldn't turn around to go home because I just bought these stupid tights and jacket and should be warming up by now and didn't want to. 
Then I hit a patch of ice on the trail and have what I would like to picture as "a moment of natural grace and balance where my innate athleticism and core strength revealed themselves".  My bike slides to the left, my right leg unclips and in an almost ballet-like movement slides across the path until I quickly regain balance, re-clip, all while operatically singing "Fuuuuuck" in a beautiful soprano vibrato.
Decision made - continue riding to the end of the Cherry Creek trail where miraculously an enormous REI is located.  They'll have warm things!  I brought my credit card!  I'll be fine!  Only thing on my mind - keep pedaling.  Ignore all else.  I keep my fingers balled up on the handlebars trying to keep my thumbs from getting frostbite.
I am almost at the REI when another cyclist (one of five others I saw on the entire 30 mile ride) catches up to me and asks, "what kind of gloves are you wearing"? 
Me: "Inadequate ones.  My hands are freezing".
Him: "Me too!"
Me: "My fingers and toes are so cold, I'm just trying to get to REI to buy shoe covers and warmer gloves.  All my cold weather stuff is for running and it doesn't seem to work as well for cycling at all".
Him: Pause.  "So, are you on a recovery ride today?"
Me: Pause - is this a compliment (as in I look like I am in good enough shape to do such intensive rides that I occasionally need to take a 'recovery ride') or an insult (as in I'm riding really pretty slowly right now so I must be just 'taking it easy')..."I have the day off so I'm just tooling around since it will snow tomorrow".
Him: "Cool.  Do you do triathalons and stuff?"
Me: What?  "No, I don't do tris."
There is some other small talk here, something about how great the vents are in cycling shoes when it's hot out but not so much now and how he's ridden other days this week and it hasn't been as cold.  I'm not really paying attention.  Too cold.
Him: "Well, here's my exit.  Stay warm!" He exits the trail.
Strange encounter.  No one has ever talked to me on the bike path before.  Maybe I am riding really slow and therefore more approachable for conversation.  Anyway, I make it to REI.  The guy at the front kindly offers to watch my bike as I cleat my way to the cycling department to get some shoe covers.  Located, donned, purchased, and pause to warm up. 
So as I am stalling before heading out again into the Arctic, the front counter guy says "Maybe you wouldn't be so cold if you weren't riding so fast, Speed Demon".  He must've peeked at my Garmin data on my handlebars while watching my bike.  I laugh, thinking, what a weird counter-opinion to the other guy on the trail.
Later I come to the only logical conclusion (and really the only deep insight I had this ride): Guys like to talk to girls in tights.
No other real insights or found meaning on this ride.  No song lyrics sink in below the surface.  I hardly even see the trail or the sights on the way home.  All I can think is Cold.  Cold cold cold cold.  At least now my toes aren't cold.  But my ears and my fingers are still cold.  I come up with a list of things I wished I had brought with me:
1) glove liners
2) fleecy vest
3) a hot tub
Cold cold wind chill brr.  Cold.  Hungry.  I'm hungry.  I'm cold, it's windy, I'm hungry.  No, I'm starving.  Then for some final bit of cruelty, a head wind.  Uphill.  Really? 
But I bang it out, slowly, on my apparent 'recovery ride', just in time for the temperature to rise above freezing.  And for me to have a whole new "wish list" for my next cold ride adventure.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Blog No. 5

Coincidentally (in reference to yesterday's blog about challenges in finding one's Zion) I received my usual inspirational quote of the day via email.

This afternoon's apropos quote of the day:
"Our grand business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand."
- Thomas Carlyle

Now I couldn't claim to know anything about this gentleman, so I wiki'ed him (as is apropos of my generation).  They list some of his definitions now collected in the "Nuttall Encyclopedia".  One that stood out to me is how he defined Centre of Immensities. By itself that is an intense sounding few words.  Say it out loud.
Centre of Immensities, an expression of Carlyle's to signify that wherever any one is, he is in touch with the whole universe of being, and is, if he knew it, as near the heart of it there as anywhere else he can be. 
I am taking this to mean I don't have to even know what my Zion is to be on my way there.  I just need to do what needs to be done that moment (and doesn't life always seem to make it fairly clear what needs to be done ASAP??).  And that while I am doing that thing in that moment, I am exactly as close to the center of everything as I can ever be.  How special and meaningful is THAT?  (Add generational expression here:) OMG.
As I was thinking about Zion today, it occurred to me that it may be something like when there is a storm coming in.  You see the clouds in the distance, they thicken and then blot out the sun.  Then you can hear the wind in the trees in the distance, maybe even see them stir from afar, then see the leaves it's picking up with it on it's way to you (but all this time you actually don't feel anything), then BOOM it hits you.  You heard it coming, you saw it coming, but you didn't know what it felt like until you're caught in the gust of wind and swirl of leaves.  Once you're there, maybe you know.

Me contemplating the Centre of Immensities

Monday, November 8, 2010

Blog IV

I went for a run this morning before my trip up to Glenwood Springs for work this week.
Since daylight savings ended, it was actually pretty light out.  When I first headed out, the sun had not yet completely risen over the horizon - it was up just high enough to shine on a seagull that flew overhead but not shine on me.  The tops of the yellow-leaved trees were lit up, but not their trunks.  It was pretty cool.
Damian Marley & Nas were telling me "I got to keep on walking on the road to Zion".  I can relate to the metaphorical interpretation of Zion as the Promised Land, or some other distant but much wanted goal.  Who doesn't have their own Zion?  What's mine?  Do I even need to know, or do I just need to keep on the path to the highest good?  Maybe my Zion is figuring out my distant but much wanted goal...
I can think of a few short-term goals:
1) Finish dinner
2) Eat delicious piece of cake purchased at the Wal-Mart bakery in Rifle
3) Successfully complete required number of inspections while working in Garfield County for the State of Colorado this week
4) Successfully negiote expected winter storm while driving home over two mountain passes on Thursday
Slightly longer term goals:
1) Ride 50 miles
2) Go roller skating again, even if it's cold out
3) Attempt to enjoy and not resent the winter in Colorado
4) Build and maintain meaningful relationships
Long term goals:
1) ???
2) Come up with long term goals
But whatever my Zion ends up being, "Instead of broken dreams and tragedy, by any plan and any means and any strategy, ay say, I got to keep on walking..."

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Blog the Third

First of all, let me just say how amazing this Fall has been so far.  Yesterday was in the high 70s, in November, in Colorado!  (Thank you, global climate change?) So myself and half of the rest of Denver all decided, what a lovely day to go to the park!
I fit the bike in the back of my car, get my coat and gloves (it's still quite brisk in the mornings), spray on sunblock, and set off for the park.  
This particular park, Washington Park, where myself and 15,000 other people headed, is a long and narrow park with a gravel jogging path along the perimeter and a paved two-lane inner loop that is almost entirely without vehicle access. 
Just a side observation: everyone on the outer path had at least two dogs with them, making the person:dog ratio something like 1:3.8.  Strangely, people either had enormous dogs, or very tiny dogs.  No in-between reasonably sized dogs.  Naturally, all the very tiny dogs had on little sweaters.
Anyway, the two-lane inner path allowed me to set my own pace without having to slow down for joggers, road blocks, slow bikists (more to follow on that particular term later), or walkers.  Plenty of room to just go around.  Each loop is 2.25 miles, and encouragingly identified by the phrase "YAY YOU!" someone had spray painted on the asphalt.  I completed 31.61 miles in 2:12, increasing my average speed by at least 1mph over my rides on the bike paths.  I started off the ride with my jacket on, but after an hour or so it came off.  Then I realized, wow - arm warmers would be really convenient.  Then I wouldn't have to tie my coat around my waist and have it flop around behind me like some mini-cape.  Plus I remembered seeing some really cute arm warmers with stripes at the bike shop...
The soundtrack to this particular ride was Deadmou5, a house music DJ with very few lyrics.  The only ones that stood out were "It's been so long I feel out of my body with you"...which resonated with how I felt being so connected to my bike (my "mycycle") it wasn't exactly like an out-of-body-experience, but more like an at-one-with-my-body-experience.
But back to how the term "bikist" entered my vocabulary.  It's pretty much due to an entire bottle of Manischewitz kosher concord grape wine split between myself and my friend Julie several years ago.  I don't remember the entire conversation (not surprisingly), but somehow we started talking about my Dad and his cycling accomplishments.  Julie stated, just so the record was clear for everyone there, that my Dad was a "real bikist".  It was so hilarious and charmingly cute that it has stuck with me ever since.
So on this ride, loop after loop, (I ended up doing 14 loops in all), I felt like I was soaring out of my body/at one with my bike over this path, leaves pelting me in the face as I pedaled through this incredible Fall morning, feeling almost like a "real bikist". 
Passing "YAY YOU!" the 14th time, I unclipped, very deliberatly and carefully negotiated the steep downhill in cleats to where my car was parked, and realized several things.  First, I cannot attest to the actual sunblock properties of this spray-on stuff, but it certainly works well as a spray adhesive.  I ended up with a very fine (and some not so fine) coating of dirt, bugs, and other debris on all exposed body parts.  I also realized that I have not yet made peace with my saddle.  I felt a bit like the Princess and the Pea.  With the saddle being the pea and my tender parts being the Princess.  I would like to personally thank whatever brilliant German designer came up with the heated seats feature in my car.  Bless you, my friend.  And finally, I realized that although tired and saddle-sore, nothing else really hurt.  My knee which always bothered me on other rides was not hurting!  So, thank you, Bicycle Village in Aurora, for taking the time to fit me properly to my bike.  Yay me, indeed!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Blog 2 - The electric bugaloo

Today marks several anniversaries.
Six years ago today, I ran 8 miles for the first time.  I was in training for a half marathon, and was increasing my distance each weekend by one mile.  This was the farthest I had run thus far.  I remember choosing to do my long run on a Friday because I was going out that night and knew I wouldn't be up for it on Saturday.  I lived in an apartment near Cheesman Park, and ran up to and around City Park.  I remember listening to a lot of Modest Mouse when I ran back then, and the song that stands out the most is "Float On".  I had just broken up with a boyfriend of almost 4 years just a few days before.  I wasn't exactly devastated, but not super chipper either.  I had my training goal, the half marathon was just a couple months away, and I stayed focused on that.  "We'll all float on, good news is on the way".
Anyway, then went to work and did my thing for the day.  I was going out with my friend Julie that night to see her friend's band play at Herman's Hideaway.  I wore a black skirt with all kinds of samba-like layers, and a tube top.  I'm not kidding about the tube top - I rocked it.
I was at Julie's apartment and she was on the phone when her friend Steve came to the door.  Julie's husband was out of town that weekend and she had asked Steve to be her escort to the bar.  She opened the door and there he was.  I was sitting on her couch across from the door and we made eye contact.  Then the strangest happened - it became clear to me that I would marry this man.  It was just an understanding that I had.  Not a fleeting thought, not just a moment of whimsy, it was a feeling of clarity.
The three of us went out to dinner, and this is where it all started to go downhill.  One would think after such a Cinderella-like moment that the rest of the night would be all clouds and sparkles, but not so.  I ate very little dinner (I was excited, and for some very unusual reason - not hungry) and there seemed to be a misunderstanding between myself and the bartender.  They thought I kept ordering drinks; I didn't think I did.  Regardless, drinks kept appearing before me and I kept finishing them off.  This continued when we go to the show.  Drinks just kept appearing in my hand with no recollection of how they got there.  Oh, how convenient!  Tra la la...
Then very suddenly I realize I should go to the bathroom.  Right away.  And miraculously, I made it there effortlessly in my 3.5" heels, tube top and all.  Once there, I lost my ability to communicate clearly.  Julie came in very concerned to check on me, and in my head I was telling her things like "I'm fine, this is just really embarrassing and I need a moment to recover", and "I'm more concerned about how filthy the floor is in this restroom stall than how I'm feeling right now", but what Julie insisted she heard sounded more like "Uuuuuuuh". 
And when the waitress also came in (not at all concerned about my welfare) and threatened to call an ambulance if we didn't leave immediately, I did manage to clearly communicate my thoughts on that subject.  I said something about my ridiculous co-pay for such an event, stood up, and left the bathroom with some dignity (at least that is how I am choosing to remember this moment).  Steve heroically picked me up (my 3.5" heels were slightly more difficult to navigate at this point) and carried me out of the bar sans ambulance with the cranky waitress watching our departure.
Ah, memories.  "Alright don't worry even if things end up a bit too heavy we'll all float on, all right".

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Blog 1

So I decided to start blogging this morning on my run.  Mostly just to share what I think about while I'm running/biking/driving, whatever.
This morning my run went as follows:
It was dark when I left the house.  Just a hint of light on the horizon, and some pink.  Wispy clouds, and a fingernail crescent waning moon rising just ahead of the sun.  Soon to be new moon.  It's cold, and I can see my breath ahead of me.  I cross the intersection, run half a mile to the trail along the Highline Canal, and then Berlin comes on my iPod.  I'm pretty sure the run started with me listening to Ace of Base, and then a few songs alphabetically between Ace of Base and Berlin. 
Then somehow, listening to "Take my Breath Away", transformed my run into something much more romantic and profound.  I mean, come on.  It's starting to get lighter, the old growth trees on the trail are changing to yellow, the grinning cresent moon, "watching in slow motion as you turn around and say, take my breath away".  This romance blooms between me and the trail and the sunrise and those wispy pink clouds.  It's incredible, literally breathtaking.  Then I reach my yellow plastic road marker at my turn around point, and sequentially, the Black Eyed Peas come on.  Changes the whole mood again.
And the bass keeps runnin runnin, and I keep running.  "We got five minutes for us to disconnect, from all intellect collect the rhythm effect.  Obstacles are inefficient, follow your intuition, free your inner soul and break away from tradition."  So for the next five minutes, my mind goes somewhere other than Berlin.  I start thinking about what it means to be getting older.  Somehow time has snuck up and starting etching itself into my face, in the lines around my eyes, and in the hairs its turning gray.  How do I get back at time?  How do I make my mark, my etch in time?  And do I do it for myself - just keep running and cycling and going to work and doing my thing?  Or do I actually do something that leaves some kind of legacy behind?  And if so, what?? 
Then sequentially, Bob Marley chimes in.  "A-yin the darkness there must come out to light".  And with that, I see a fox on the trail.  He looks at me, then trots away as though seeing me means nothing to him.  But it means something to me.  Then I'm back on the street, crossing the intersection, the moon is lost in the wispy clouds, and I'm back home.
Shower and go to work.  Sit around and make my mark?  Somehow affect the lives of those I work with?  Provide good customer service to the public?  Fall in love with Fall, attempt to find meaning in my life and the things I do, watch the dawn transform into the day.