Sunday, August 30, 2009

A view of my own

Last night while traveling home from Albuquerque, I was studying the sunset. I was searching for that perfect turn of phrase to describe it, but being poetically deficient, I kept coming up short. Finally, I asked Savannah what color she would say it was. She studied the western horizon and then pronounced it "Peach."

I like the color and fruit equally, but it wasn't quite what I was looking for.

I have been craving sunsets lately. It has always been my favorite time of day, especially in summer. I love the change in light in late evening that transforms everything, brings out a glow from within.

My favorite sunsets I call warrior sunsets, those brilliant cloud-filled events that blaze up hot gold, as if Mother Nature is pulling the earth's energy westward, taking in all the noise and fuss of the day and firing it in a hot kiln until it turns bronze and copper and quiet. Then she opens her arms and sends it back soft silver, purple, and rose. I think these are particularly beautiful in New Mexico when the mesas get involved.

I can't see the sunset from where I live; neighborhood homes block the view. I try to go for my runs to coincide with them, but sunsets are made for studying, for watching and meditating on. I dream of finding a place that will give me back the sunsets. Virginia Woolf believed that a woman must have a room of her own if she is to write -- I'll take mine with a view of the warrior sunset.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Are you SURE this is good for me?

At the beginning of this summer, I got the odd desire to start running again. I haven't run further than the distance between the parking lot and Dairy Queen for over twenty years, so I wasn't so sure how this was going to turn out.

In the three months since waking up with this wild urge I have submerged myself in the running culture. I spent a lot of money on running shoes-- one pair for road work, one for trail running (and the trail shoes are SO cute!). I set up a training schedule. I worked to push through that metaphorical "wall" when all I wanted to do was stop and have a banana split. I even subscribed to Runner's World magazine. And, I am proud to say, I can now run a whopping two miles without stopping. On a good day. With a strong tail-wind.

While I am in no danger of throwing away my day job to train for the Olympics, I have discovered that running has actually given me a few good hints for life. I believe Vicki would call it the Zen of Running, but I have yet to achieve that runner's "high" I hear so much about, so frankly I don't find struggling up a hill for a mile, sucking air and wondering what has happened to all my good sense very zenful, so I will instead call it



Yes, It Would Be Easier to Drive There...

1. If you don't take the first step, you aren't going to get any closer to the finish line.

2. It's all about pace.

3. Sweat washes off.

4. Other people really aren't waiting to see you fall.

5. Stay in the moment.

6. When you can't go any further, go just ten more yards.

7. It's OK to walk, sometimes.

8. If you don't recharge, you can't go the distance.

9. Good shoes are a woman's best friend.

10. The only competitor you have to defeat is the voice inside you saying "Stop."

So, maybe I won't get past my two-mile plateau. Perhaps I will never stop questioning why I keep putting on the runnng shoes (even if they are SO cute) when all I want to do is watch "Ghost Hunters." No doubt I will never be able to match Kailee's pace.

But, I can do today what I couldn't a year ago. And that has been the best lesson of all.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Reading Room

The back-to-school reading list has been compiled. Now it has to be read. If you read, write back in the comments section. If not, you're a hooligan.

The Hummingbird's Daughter
Luis Alberto Urrea

Life of Pi
Yann Martel

It's Not Easy Being Green: And Other Things to Consider
Jim Henson, The Muppets

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Dave Eggers

The Other Man Was Me: A Voyage to the New World
Rafael Campo

The Sagas of Icelanders
Icelanders Who Wrote Stuff

The Bride's Kimono
Sujata Massey

Frank Delaney

Get busy, hooligans.

Cat: A Memoriam

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I didn't feel a thing, and other lies I tell myself.

There are a couple of people in my life whom I like well enough, but really don't want to see often. One is my attorney. The other is my dentist.

I have a great dentist. He is competent, gentle, and patient with my less-than-stellar flossing habits. He's friendly, and since he's the only dentist my girls have known, they don't have an irrational fear of dentists (although Kailee does fear dental hygienists). Despite all this, I am content to not hang out with him. I'm really looking forward to the day he looks into my mouth, moving his shiny mirror thingy around, sits back, and says, "Ok-- looks great! See you in six months."

It hasn't happened yet.

Today, I returned for two fillings. Only one tooth has a cavity, but the doctor fears the other could develop one, so why not kill two birds with one drill and fix them both. Why not! It didn't seem like a big deal, but neither did having two wisdom teeth extracted at the age of 44. Why didn't I remember that little party before agreeing to show up for my appointment today?

As fillings go, I am certain I had it easy. I never even felt the needle going in to numb my teeth and nerves. But I have a bit of a phobia against needles (I think it's referred to as icantstandthemaphobia), and just knowing one was well, well within my personal bubble was enough to raise those red flags that tell me PANIC ATTACK IMMINENT! DIVE! DIVE! Only, there was nowhere to go.

Withing a few minutes, the entire right side of my face was numb and he went to work. Drill, clean, check, drill, drill, drill... No pain, I assured him, except for the electric shock that sliced through my cheek every time I closed my mouth. He gave me a puzzled look, put the shiny mirror thingy in, had a good look around and asked, "Are you sure?"

"Yeth," I slurred.

"You shouldn't feel anything in your cheek-- are you sure it's not in your jaw?

"Noth. Ith in my cheeth."

"Your teeth?"

"Noth. My cheeth. My cheeth," I say (I think), tracing the path of the pain for him. He looks at his dental hygienist, who shakes her head.

"Do you want me to numb you up some more?"

"Noth! I can'th feel a thingth nowth. Do I sthill hath a thongue?"

"It's still there." He proceeded, and I withheld anymore comment on the odd pain in my cheek. I wanted out of the chair, so I could take the little electrical shock. Besides, it only hurt when I closed my mouth. Pretty soon, I wasn't able to tell when my mouth was open or closed except the feeling of the breeze on the back of my throat.

When he went to work on the bottom tooth, I didn't mention the same odd shooting pain along the bottom of my jaw. It's just like me to find out I'm wired differently than the average human.

All in all, the process only took an hour, although I believe time slows WAY down in a dentist's office. Of course, that also could have been a direct result of a lack of oxygen. Every once in a while, the dentist would admonish me, "Breath through your nose!" and I would give him a look that said, "How else would you like me to breath, with four hands, two suction hoses, a drill, a pick, some really nasty tasting substance, and a shiny mirror thingy stuck in my mouth?!" But then I'd realize, I wasn't breathing at all. He was just reminding me. Because he's a really good dentist.

And I get to see him again, in two weeks. For the other side.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Stealing Your Thunder...

...postmodern English style.

So today my mater made an entry into her public journal about fire alarms and their flaws and the fact that Kailee sleeps and I cart large bags around with me when it is not...really...necessary. She was pleased with her discipline, so just five minutes after she made the update I am stealing her thunder and making another one. It won't happen again. I'm feeling alive. I've got passion. I survived the blender with all five fingers on my right hand (or, well, most of one of the fingers)- don't no one rain on my parade.

This font looks very funny, very fishy...maybe it's just the pre-update font. But it looks bigger than the fonts of previous entries.

Any hoodle, I have made a list of acceptable terms to prevent the onslaught of this beastie known as postmodern English. Postmodern English is a collection of cyber, technological terms that ruin a once perfect pantheon of words such as "cat" or "mat" or "hat." There will be no more love for such beloved words once crap like "cyberspace" or "iPod" or "microchip" take over and turn language into a robot's instruction booklet.
Say this instead to safeguard real words:

Box Which Entertains (Perhaps Too Much)

Compact Disk is fine

Streaming Media
Awaiting the Arrival of Life Captured on Machines

Radio's alright...


Sad Excuse for a Word/Public Journal*

Sadder Excuse for a Word/Public, Mechanically Captured Sentiments


Together, we can overcome postmodernism. And, to walk my write, I have taken the liberty and all that jazz (because I need to pump up the cliched sayings in this entry; I feel that I am, even now, lacking), and copied this dictionary into my good, old-fashioned handwritten journal. Success is not easy, but postmodern English is a real threat to Shakespeare, language, and the good of humanity. Be a hero. Save the words.

*read the beginning of this entry for an example of this new term in action and glory



I believe that all the fire drills we are subjected to as children serve the opposite purpose that they are intended to. I came to this conclusion early Wednesday morning while I was in Albuquerque, staying at a well-known chain hotel. I was asleep-- finally-- but had only been so for about an hour when, at 2:15 am, the hotel's alarm went off.

Before I had gone to sleep, I had the strangest thought- what if the alarm went off? I can't remember the context of the thought, and don't profess to any sort of psychic ability. I mention it because when it really did go off, that very loud and quite obnoxious alarm, I thought it was my fault. I jumped out of bed, ran to the middle of the room and stood, completely disoriented. I returned to the bedside alarm clock and thumped it a couple of times, thinking it was the culprit and that I was really, really making my neighbors mad. It wasn't the alarm clock. Nor was it my cellphone (which has an alarm that plays music to soothe one into the day, unlike this bellowing Beowulf). Finally, I looked through the little peephole, and seeing nothing amiss in the hallway, went to the window. Still nothing to see.

In all this, I couldn't figure out what the alarm meant. Fire? Smoke? Terrorists on Menaul? I just couldn't get my befuddled, two-glasses-of-wine-before-bed mind around the idea that it meant EVACUATE.

That, I believe, is the result of years of fire drills in school. As a child briefly living in Oklahoma, I was also drilled on tornadoes and nuclear bombs. I am well versed in the meaning of an alarm. Fortunately for my childhood but unfortunately for 2:15 am, I associate alarms with drills, not the real thing. Thus, pretty sure the hotel would not be conducting a drill at such an hour, but not wholly convinced they wouldn't, I was rendered motionless in the middle of my room, unsure what to do. Finally, I opened the door and stuck my head out into the hallway. And that's when I saw it-- several of my neighbors, up and down and hall, sticking their heads out or pulling their heads back into their rooms. We looked like a bunch of whack-a-moles, that arcade game that encourages players to smash the heads of poor, helpless moles peeking out of their holes.

I asked my neighbor to my left, "Do you know what's going on?" and my neighbor to my right asked me, "Are you evacuating?" It wasn't until two young girls passed us and told us, "Our grandma says we have to evacuate" that we all pulled our heads in, shut our doors, and made our move. Thank goodness for grandmas.

I've always wondered what I would grab if I had to evacuate my house quickly. I now know-- my cellphone and my car keys. Savannah went down the four flights carrying her book bag, which is no lightweight proposition. I asked her why she was taking the heavy bag; she leveled that look at me, the one that says, Can I really be flesh of your flesh? and responded, "My life's work is in here. I'm NOT leaving it to burn!"

I looked at my car keys and phone and thought to myself, that's why she's going to be a famous writer someday, and I'm going to be answering her fan mail.

Ultimately, the alarm signaled nothing of significance. The firemen came and went, and we were allowed to return to our rooms.

By this time, it was almost 2:54 am. A significant time, as Kailee was born on July 29th, 2:54 am. The irony wasn't lost on me. I was awake for her arrival, and now, at the moment she turned eighteen years old, I stood at the window and sang happy birthday to her.

Not that she knew it-- she was sound asleep in her quiet dorm room.