Monday, November 30, 2015

This Is Marriage: Day 86

I am not particularly enamored with the A places right now. Because of them, Pete will be away for most of our first year of marriage. It's a total bummer but there is nothing we can do about it except to make the best of it. Hopefully it will make us stronger, in the way that only challenging things can. Pete is not worried about it because he doesn't worry about much of anything really. I am worried about all the things I know it's futile to worry about. And also that something is afoot with my left foot/hamstring/hip/back since I fell down the stairs last month. I really need my parts to heal quickly so I can run a shitload of miles next year so I can be all in-the-moment or whatever. The only plan I have ever really had in life is to keep running through it. Somehow that seems to work. So I'm going to focus on being in the moment now, enjoying the holidays and our honeymoon in January. Then I'm going to focus on being in the moment next year, distracting myself from the sadness and the absence with runs and hills and adventures.

We had a very low-key, relaxing Thanksgiving weekend. We went to the movies, to bootcamp and spin class, ate and played games with friends, ran from our new house to the park while we were waiting for the hardwood floor refinishing people to come and checked a few things off the to-do list, but mostly we just spent time together. It was nice. Except that I am not any good at relaxing. Unless I run double digit miles every weekend, which I haven't done in a couple of weekends. I am purposely keeping my mileage low so that my body can recover from all the miles I put on it this year. But I find it torturous. My restlessness was reaching critical levels. I could tell because I was unbearably itchy, the kind of itchiness that feels like it is internal and thus unscratchable. And I felt this intense pressure to BE HERE NOW and ENJOY THIS TIME and MAKE THIS WEEKEND MEMORABLE BECAUSE  WEEKENDS LIKE THIS WILL BE NUMBERED NEXT YEAR AND THAT NUMBER IS TOO LOW. Those are not exactly relaxing thoughts. I knew what I needed to do and that was go to Cobb's Hill and run hill repeats. It has been my experience that any problem can be solved if I run enough hill repeats. And so it was. I ran up the hill 5 times and then I saw Jenn and Gustavo. I ran one more hill repeat while chatting with Jenn and then went to yoga with Pete. I had the epiphany that the hills always provide: I am strong and I can do this. I can do anything. Pete is even stronger than me. He can lift me above his head. (I cannot lift him above my head. Yet.) We will figure it out. Because we are the kind of people who figure things out. We are made of effort and persistence and silliness and no matter what happens, we will make it awesome.

On happy days and sad days, on all the days, this marriage is the place I want to be.

Lyric of the moment: "I was alive and I waited, waited. I was alive and I waited for this. Right here, right now, there is no other place I wanna be..." ~Jesus Jones "Right Here Right Now"

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The giving of the thanks

Thanksgiving is an odd holiday. It is a story of some natives who saved some immigrants from starvation, even though said immigrants would go on to steal all the natives' land and give them smallpox. Oh, and also there was food. Lots of food. And so Thanksgiving was born, this tradition of sitting down and giving thanks and eating. Serious eating. Stuffing foods into other foods serious. We gloss over the fighting and the unpleasant truths of history and instead we celebrate a time when the fortunate helped the less fortunate and strangers sat down as friends. Why? I don't know. Maybe because eating pie and giving thanks are better traditions than murdering, stealing and having smallpox. Maybe we are optimists. Maybe we want to believe in the times when we all got along.

In its finest moments, America is a vast land of opportunity, a place where newcomers seeking a better life are welcomed with open arms, a promised land of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That is the America that I want to live in, an asylum for the "tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to be free," not a xenophobic, raciest, gun-and-fear mongering insane asylum. We cannot change our history but we can find a better way forward. We've all been lucky enough to be invited to the awesome party that is life. Let us give thanks and hugs and pies.

I'll start. Things I'm infinitely thankful for:
  • Pete. For signing up to create this adventurous, humorous, ridiculously awesome life with me.
  • People. The best thing to happen to earth since dogs. 
  • Family. The reason I got invited to the party of existence in the first place.
  • Friends. The family we get to choose.
  • My body. For being the best meat sack I've had the privilege of inhabiting. And for taking me on all the adventures.
  • Oxygen. For keeping me alive and all.
  • Water. There are few things as deeply and purely satisfying as getting a drink of water to quench a wicked thirst.
  • Everything that has ever made me laugh. Life would have been unbearable without it.
  • Music. It makes everything better. Plus it's hard to dance to silence.
  • Dessert. The best thing to happen to food.
  • TrailsRoc. For adding so much love, laughter, dirty adventures and community to my life.
  • Struggles. For leading me towards a stronger, wiser, more compassionate version of myself. 
  • You. Because you're awesome. And also because if it weren't for you, I'd just be over here typing this nonsense to myself.

Lyric of the moment: "Everything you want's a dream away. Under this pressure, under this weight, we are diamonds...And if we've only got this life, this adventure, oh then I want to share it with you..." ~Coldplay "Adventure Of A Lifetime"

Friday, November 20, 2015

Things I want to say to Humanity

I usually don't write about politics or religion. Because I don't think my words are going to change anyone's mind, to make them feel love instead of hate. I wish I had the magic words that could do that, but I don't. I'm not trying to convince anyone that my way is the right way. Because it's not. There is no "right" way to think or live, there are just different ways. Fighting about who is "right" is missing the point. No one "wins" a fight. Fighting, whether with weapons or invectives, only leads to loss. Within us all there is suffering. There is fear and hurt and worry and insecurity. We can compound those things by magnifying our differences and creating these Us vs. Them mentalities. Or we can ease that suffering by seeking to understand rather than to pass judgment, by thinking and acting out of love rather than out of fear. It is not an easy thing to do by any means. But it is the most worthwhile thing we can do with our time here. It is the thing that will make the most difference. In everything. Ever. Humans, as much as possible, be humane. Be a bright spot in a dark world. Be a herald of hope and a laser beam of pure love.

Lyric of the moment: "Always Love. Hate will get you every time. Always Love. Even when you wanna fight..." ~Nada Surf "Always Love"

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

This Is Marriage: Day 73

Some things may happen that I really, really, really don't want to happen. Things that are out of my control, things that I cannot change. That is life. What I can do is make the best of it, to give all my heart and all my effort to this life and this marriage. Some days are hard, like when Pete is away and, no matter how much fun I have with friends, there is still something missing and it is him. Some days are funny, like when we are standing in the kitchen of the new house, which is slowly starting to feel like "our" house and Pete is fixing the wire on my braces again (I don't know why it's always coming loose. Probably because of all the cookies.) and I am saying "You're more handsome than my regular orthodontist" and we are laughing.

But all the days are amazing. Because I get to be married to my most favorite person in the whole entire world. In my wildest dreams, I never thought that would happen. There was this day that I finally resigned myself to the fact that if I wanted to live this big, adventurous life, I was going to have to do it alone. And I was okay with that because it was far better than the alternative. It was a Tuesday. The following Saturday, Steven and I were at Pete's house, getting ready to go to the Mess The Dress mud race/prom. I was sad, because things were always ending, and the endings were always my fault because I can't settle down. I want too much out of life. Only I don't think it's too much, because the point of being here is to BE here. With each other, doing all the things. Pete gave me a hug and it was the best hug I had ever received. Then we put on fancy dresses and ran through the mud with our friends. And the rest, as they say, is history. I didn't know that we would go on to run hundreds of miles and climb mountains and get married and buy a house. That day, all I knew was that hug was the best place I'd ever been and I just wanted to stay there as long as I could.

I still feel that way. We have had so many happy moments and some no good, very sad moments. But we laughed and we kept going. We are not perfect. We are not ever going to be perfect. But in so many ways we are a perfect team. We picked out paint colors for our entire house in five minutes. Pete likes firm mattresses and I love soft mattresses and those two things seemed irreconcilable but we found a hybrid mattress that is comfortable for both of us. It is California King sized (because size matters) and the box spring is 9'' high and it is going to be like climbing a mountain to get into that thing every night and I am so excited I cannot wait until it gets delivered!

Those are just small things. At some point, we will face big things, heavy things. They will not be easy but we will get through them and make the best of them and keep laughing. Because that is what we do. I believe in that. I believe in us. More than I have ever believed in anything. I don't know what the future will bring. But I'm going to bring the awesome sauce. Because life and marriage are the best parties that I have ever been invited to. And I am going to party so hard at both of them.

Lyric of the moment: "And all I ask for is a yellow Cadillac. And all I pray for is for you to come back..." ~The Shackletons "Yellow Cadillac"

Friday, November 13, 2015

Things I want to say about bodies and beauty

I ran a 30K race last Saturday. At the start of that race, I said to myself Body, whatever happens today, I love you. I left that part out of my race report because it seemed silly. But now I realize what's really silly is that loving our own bodies feels unusual, almost a radical act, instead of the default. That is so weird, isn't it? I mean, bodies are amazing. Being alive is a complicated process and all our bones and muscles and blood cells and neurons are taking care of that business, doing all these wonderful, miraculous things, every second of every day.

I'm not going to pretend that I'm good at this whole loving myself thing. I am a work in progress. Some days it's a struggle to let go of the negative thoughts and judgments. But I am willing to struggle. Because it's important. Because when I think about all the time I wasted beating myself up over all my perceived inadequacies, it's fucking depressing. And I am so over that shit.

I felt fantastic after that race. Ok, actually my stomach was a mess and I was tired. But I felt fantastic because I had run a lot of the hills and persevered through the moments of discomfort and thoroughly enjoyed a beautiful day in the woods with my friends. Then I saw some race photos and let's just say I did not look particularly photogenic. I felt a pang of disappointment at that. But then I thought, eh so what? Why do I even care about this? The truth is that I don't care what I look like. I care what I feel like. I care about being healthy and happy and kind, about being able to run all the miles and climb on all the tall things.

I give absolutely zero fucks about trying to conform to someone else's idea of beauty. I am not a race time or a number on a scale. I am the culmination of all the experiences I've had and the people I've met, a lifetime of hugs, stumbles, laughs, tears, awkwardness and awesomeness. That is beauty. It's not in a bottle of anti-wrinkle cream or in losing 5 pounds. It's in fully inhabiting your body and your life and living it up, with gratitude, compassion and wonder.

Lyric of the moment: "In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die. And where you invest your love, you invest your life..." ~Mumford & Sons "Awake My Soul"

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Last days in the House Of Robot

We close on our new house today. I am not looking forward to moving. As in, the physical process of schlepping all my shit from one house to another. I'm hoping that I will come home one day to find that tiny magic robots have moved everything for me. Or to wake up one morning to find that tiny magic robots have moved me and all my stuff into the new house overnight. I'm not picky on timing, whatever is convenient for the tiny magic robots. Failing that, I feel like selling my house and everything in it so I have nothing left to move. Except the essentials. Like 4 pairs of running shoes.

These are my last days in the House Of Robot. It's funny, this was my first house - I bought it myself, I put a lot of work into it, I made all the decisions myself - but I don't feel any particular attachment to it. I am not sad to leave the house. But I am sad to leave the people in it (Danielle is the best roommate and Charlie pretty much counts as people). Last night I was thinking about the past 7.5 years (Wow! Have I really owned the house for that long?!) During that time, it has been home to 5 other people, 3 dogs, 3 uninvited bats and the occasional bathroom spider (which I named Octavius). I wanted this house to be a place where you could come as you are and leave better than when you came. But I don't know if anyone was changed for the better for having lived here. Except me. I definitely have been.

I know it is time to move on, to start the next chapter in my life. I'm ecstatic about that, for sure. Yet there's a part of me that wishes the chapter titled The Adventures of Mozzie and Jen and Charlie and Danielle had lasted a little longer. And there's a part of me that thought if I ever left this house it would be to move into a tiny house or a mountain. Or a treehouse. (I feel the latter is going to happen someday, it's only a matter of time). I guess that's how you know you are living the good life: every chapter is so awesome that you don't want to put it down. But you do, both reluctantly and excitedly, because the next chapter is going to take you to places beyond your wildest dreams.

Lyric of the moment: "I want to have the same last dream again. The one where I wake up and I'm alive. Just as the four walls closed me within, my eyes are opened up with pure sunlight. I'm the first to know, my dearest friends. Even if your hope has burned with time. Anything that's dead shall be regrown. And your vicious pain, your warning sign. You will be fine. Hey yo, here I am. And here we go, life's waiting to begin..." ~Angels and Airwaves "The Adventure"

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Mendon 30K 2015

I told myself I wasn't going to do this race, that 5 loops of this course last year was more than enough. And yet, somehow I ended up at the starting line, hugging Laura to stay warm.

I blame it on the weather. Registration for this race closed on Tuesday at 11:59pm. When I checked the weather on Tuesday morning, the forecast said 50 degrees and dry for Saturday. Perfect for running, and probably the best weather in the history of the Mendon Trail Races. Typically it's rainy or blizzardy. A "good" weather year is exceedingly rare. So then I had to sign up. The weather made me do it. Well, not entirely. I was also craving a long run to keep my mind off the fact that Pete is traveling this week in a not-particularly-safe part of the world. Running is just the thing when I need to work out whatever is on my mind or to focus on nothing except the awesomeness of the present moment or to make me too tired to think about anything at all.

When I woke up Saturday morning, my legs were tight and unhappy. I have never used a foam roller but for some reason my brain was all Hey, do that foam roller thing. So I did. The foam roller looks all innocent and innocuous, even a bit inviting. But don't be fooled. That bastard is not your friend. It is very painful. But then somehow my legs did feel a little better. So maybe the foam roller is like a no bullshit, tough love friend?

We met up at Alison's house and Steven drove us to Mendon Ponds Park. We arrived around 8am, just as the 50K runners were heading out. We picked up our bibs and then hung around with the crew in the lodge (where the fireplace is!! why do we ever leave this place?). Someone mentioned that you could drop down to the 20K or 10K during the race and I thought that I would probably end up doing that. I don't know why, but I just felt like this race wasn't going to go well for me. It had started to rain and I was cursing the weather forecast for being a liar, liar pants on fire.

But by the time the race started at 9:30am, it had cleared up and it was cool and partly cloudy, ideal for running. I was cold at the start but warmed up quickly once we started running, a fact that I always forget when deciding what to wear. Note to self, less is more. Especially when it comes to clothes. For running. In the first mile, I just focused on breathing and relaxing. I remember thinking that it was a beautiful day and I am incredibly lucky that I get to spend so many of my days on the trails with my friends. So I told myself that whatever happened today, I would just roll with it and love the crap out of it.

Thanks to Dave Cornell for the photo!

The first loop went by quickly, in just under an hour, which I think is the fastest I've ever run that 10K loop. And I've run that thing so many times. I ran all the hills, even that stupid kitty litter hill (it's covered in tiny stones that remind me of kitty litter). That was Todd's fault. I could see him just ahead of me and he ran the hill. And if the King Of Hills runs the hill, you gotta run the hill. I felt surprisingly good, but also a little worried that I was going too fast and wouldn't be able to maintain it. Around mile 5, I caught up to a guy who I assumed was also running the 30K but then he told me he was running the 10K. And I was like oh shit, that's not good. I should not be running with 10K people when I still have 2 loops left to go after this. But I was also like this is probably the only time in the history of trails that I'm ever going to be this close to Todd in a race, so I'll just try to keep up with him for as long as I can.

The second loop also went surprisingly well. I was mostly by myself, but I did get to stop and chat with Sheila briefly when I came upon her being all awesome and totally rocking the 50K. I finished this loop in just over an hour, feeling good enough that I headed back out for loop 3, after only a brief moment of wanting to stop at the 20K mark and call it a day.

The third loop was, not gonna lie, painful. Not the sharp pain of injury, but just the dull ache of fatiguing muscles that were all We don't normally run this fast. For the love of cake why are we running this fast? I had run most of the hills in the second loop (even kitty litter hill again. I can't even blame Todd. That one was entirely my own fault). But now my legs were protesting this policy. So I started power hiking the uphills and trying to let go and unleash on the downhills and flats. I was mildly successful at this, in that I didn't trip and fall. The last 3 miles felt like an eternity. I knew I was so close to the end but I felt like I'd never get there. Everything reminded me of Pete - 2 little kids playing catch with a football, a guy cheering who was wearing a RIT hat - and that made me miss him even more. But finally I saw the fence and the final downhill to the finish. Suddenly my legs started sprinting. And I was all like Oh hey, sudden burst of energy, where've you been? I could have used you 3 miles ago. This loop was my slowest, at an hour and 5 minutes, but still one of my personal fastest times here.

Thanks to Sam for this photo!

We hung around for a little while after the race, cheering, drinking hot chocolate and eating PBJ bagels. Then we went back out on the course to try and find Stephen's water bottle that he had tossed in the woods when he got tired of carrying it (within the first mile, which made me laugh). But we didn't find it. My stomach was feeling all sorts of no good for the rest of the day, which I hope doesn't become a thing because I really don't enjoy spending that much time in the bathroom. Ain't nobody got time for that shit. I had to drink my weight in ginger ale before I finally felt better.

I could say that I'm not going to do this race again. It's probably not going to be this gorgeous in November in Rochester again next year. And there are just soooo many loops. But even I don't believe me. Because this race is awesome. The trails are beautiful, the uphills are great and the downhills are even better. Brian Thomas and the Rochester Orienteering Club always put on a well-organized event with a relaxed, casual vibe. And there's no better way to spend a Saturday than hanging out with your friends in the woods eating PBJs.

Lyric of the moment: "And when the gas runs out just wreck it, you insured the thing. I don’t need to walk around in circles, walk around in circles, walk around in circles, walk around in..." ~Soul Coughing "Circles"

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

How to fold a fitted sheet

Folding a fitted sheet is like a magic trick. Can anyone actually do this or is it just an illusion? We may never know. I am no magician but this is how I deal with fitted sheets. And you can too.

Step 1: Own only one fitted sheet and one flat sheet. (Even better, own just one fitted sheet and a lot of blankets. Who needs a flat sheet anyway? It's just one more thing coming between you and your cuddly soft blankets of awesomeness). At any given time, your one and only fitted sheet is either on your bed or in the washer/dryer. So you never need to worry about folding it. Less stuff = less worries and less chores! Laziness Minimalism for the win.

If you are one of those rare and exceptional people who can actually fold a fitted sheet so it doesn't look like you just rolled it up into a ball and threw it in the closet, by all means keep folding. Fold the sheet out of those sheets, you wonderful magician, you. The world needs more magic.

But the rest of you can relax. Life is short. No need to get your panties or your sheets in a bunch. Less time spent on frustratingly impossible chores means more time for milk and cookies and living the dream.

Lyric of the moment: "I am covered in skin. No one gets to come in. Pull me out from inside. I am folded, and unfolded, and unfolding, I am..." ~Counting Crows "Colorblind"

Sunday, November 1, 2015

This is marriage: Day 56

It hit me suddenly, and on a visceral level, this inexplicable sadness. It came on unexpectedly, and at the most inopportune moment, of course. I wonder if it is some law of marriage physics. For every happiness there is an equal and opposite sadness. A sadness that is really fear of loss. I have never been so happy. I have never had so much to lose. I lived for three decades before I met Pete, but now I can barely remember what it was like not to know him. My life is now inexorably linked to his. That is amazing. And also terrifying. Because one day I will lose him. Hopefully that day is far, far in the future. But it will happen. And when it does, it will leave a terrible, gaping hole in my life that can never be filled.

That is what happens when you love anyone. And the closer you are to the person, the bigger the hole their absence creates. And yes, life goes on. You go on. But the hole follows you everywhere. This is what you sign up for when you love. You are knowingly opening yourself up to both immense joy and devastating loss. But you do it, of course you do it. It is the only way to live fully.

Marriage is worth the risk. Totally.

Lyric of the moment: "All I know is that I'm lost whenever you go. All I know is that I love you so, so much that it hurts..." ~Coldplay "Ink"