"stay away from the crazy."
~ myron hauge
i witnessed a full-on case of road rage last evening. the driver of an oversized, overpowered pickup truck apparently thought the car in front of him was exiting the freeway too slowly. the pickup driver cut across a median into a merging lane, cut sharply in front of the too-slow car, then came to a complete stop on the exit ramp. halting all the cars behind him. i was one car back thinking, "what an asshole."
the pickup driver gestured out his window as if to say, "see? i can go too slow, too!" he then sped off to the left with too-slow immediately behind him, now driving too fast, flashing his brights. as the situation escalated, i headed off to the right, relieved not to be part of it.
there is a lot of stupid out there. and a lot of crazy. the world is full of crazy-stupid people.
what does one say the the mother of a murdered child?
this is not an idle question.
we met one of our new neighbors last weekend. she walked across the street as we were working in the yard. she introduced herself, smiling, and we did the same. we made "welcome to the neighborhood" small talk for a few seconds and then she was crying. trying hard not to, but crying just the same.
in the next few moments we learned her daughter was killed six months ago in a drive-by shooting.
we heard about the case when it happened, before we moved into this new house. we saw the news photos of the beautiful girl who was celebrating her 15th birthday when she was killed. back then, we shook our heads and grimaced, slightly more than usual perhaps, because the girl lived somewhere in our neighborhood.
then we moved on, because we didn't know her or her family, and the shooting was in some other neighborhood, and this kind of thing happens every day and there's only so much grief and horror to go around from one day to the next.
then we moved and we met a mom across the street from us, and everything changed.
"can i show you her picture?" she asked, pulling out her phone.
"this is her. can you see how warm and caring she was? i think it shows there."
you could see it, in fact. it was in her eyes. "she's beautiful," i said, present-tense.
in loving detail she told us about her daughter, where she went to school, that she was a 4.0 student and an athlete and loved to babysit and so on. the kind of things any proud parent would tell a new acquaintance, except for the tears because her child is gone.
we looked her in the eye and spoke quietly and nodded and smiled at the couple of warm stories she shared with us. she smiled occasionally, briefly, and then the dark, haunted look would return, and she'd look away.
with a few more meandering words between us, our neighbor went back across the street and we went back to our yard work. the disquiet has lingered ever since.
except for a couple years' difference in age, the parallels between our daughter and her daughter are obvious. here at home in the past week there have been more hugs, and more patience. everything has changed.
it's doubtful we'll need another reminder that the wolf is always at the door. it's unlikely we'll ever say, "it doesn't happen here. it can't happen to us."
it does. it can.
the world is stupid-crazy full of examples.
and the truth is right across the street.
Friday, November 15, 2013
|"mammoth. sure. whatever."|
it's like living in a barn with yaks who eat spaghetti served up by a paint shaker.
you know what would help? a fire hose and the world's biggest shop-vac. throw open the doors, blast everything out, and suck up whatever's left.
that, or new flooring in just one room.
all we need is that one domino to fall, and everything piled up in the middle of every room will start to go away. one floor goes down, one pile moves to the next room. another floor goes down, another pile moves. move, install. move, install. see how easy?
for want of a single finished floor, an entire house is being lost. inhumed like an ancient civilization under a desert of half-boxed artifacts. if the people from "hoarders" walked in right now, we'd have no chance to convince them they were in the wrong house. paths wind through boxes stacked three high. "have you seen the plastic tray that goes under the lime tree?" yes, as a matter of fact i have seen it, but i couldn't begin to tell you where. and no, i don't know where the lime tree is, either.
interesting psychosocial note: after a while you start to not notice boxes any more. i mean, subconsciously their continued existence is still annoying the sh*t out of you, but consciously you just start to look past them. and around them. and through them. this, i believe, is how humans have survived whilst other species have died out: our ability to pretend there isn't a decomposing mammoth in the middle of the cave.
"my god, there's a mammoth decomposing in your living room."
"no, there's not."
"right there, next to the couch!"
"i don't see anything. at all. are you sure you're feeling all right?"
"don't throw up in here, for god's sake, you'll make a mess!"
have you ever ripped out carpet? lots and lots of carpet? it's like an archeological expedition: you learn things about the people who once lived there, and you experience them in ways you maybe weren't expecting. you also learn that you never, ever want carpet in your house. ever again.
what i learned about the previous owners from ripping out their carpets:
∙ they didn't mind that "old carpet" look
∙ they enjoyed the beach, and wanted to bring it indoors
∙ they had a (bad) dog
the worst thing about ripping out somebody else's carpet is knowing that you're stirring up years of their, you know, personal dust. just…ackkkk. so, you wear a dust mask and gloves and clothes you don't mind burning later. and you cut into this stuff and the dust poofs up, and you're like, "oh my god, i am now swimming in somebody else's personal dust." but, you keep going because it has to be done and there's no one else to do it, and the clock is ticking...
once the carpet is up and out of the house, you have to go back in for the pad underneath. even though you know everything that was in the carpet is also in the pad. maybe more so. but, it all has to go, so you wade in and rip it up and haul it out. leaving behind…
carpet strips. long strips of sharp little nails that hold the carpet down around the perimeter of every room, every hallway, every single stairstep in the house. nasty, ugly stuff designed not just to keep carpet in place, but to encourage the next homeowner to pay someone else remove it, no matter what the cost.
i would've paid ~ gladly ~ but the missus wasn't having it. "owners do this kind of thing on HGTV all the time," she said. "how hard can it be?"
"not hard at all if you're not the one doing it," i may have muttered.
"what was that?"
what's today…the 15th? i just got a text telling me that floors will go down in the bedrooms on the 22nd. floors! in one more week! that's nothing...it'll go by in the blink of an eye. and a year from now no one will remember boxapalooza 2013.
but let a few thousand years go by and let's see how science explains the limes and the spaghetti and the lone swatch of carpet (complete with personal dust) under our floors.
Thursday, October 24, 2013
|actually, have a really bad day, sir...|
can't wait to see what the GOP comes up with next.
have you been paying attention? or rather, have you had the great misfortune of accidently overhearing the "news" recently? over the past couple weeks the far-out right wing of america's political spectrum (read: virulent america-haters):
- staged a palace coup over (very) settled healthcare law
- shut down the federal government at a cost of billions of dollars
- threatened to wreck the global economy (again) if it didn't get its way on a lengthy list of pet issues and causes so foul and depraved and soul-killing that even the cast and crew of "real housewives of beverly hills" were disgusted.
the list of demands made by republican terrorists was audacious, if deplorable:
- delay implementation of the affordable care act (obamacare ~ yes, ignorami, they're one and the same!)
- fast-track authority to overhaul the tax code
- construction of the keystone XL oil pipeline
- willy nilly offshore oil and gas production
- wide-open energy exploration (drill, baby, drill) on federal lands
- roll-back of regulations on coal ash
- increased military spending coupled with deeper cuts to domestic programs
even the arch-conservative wall street journal editorial page is fed up with GOP ignominy that took $24 billion out of the U.S. economy ~ $1.5 billion per day:
"This is the quality of thinking—or lack thereof—that has afflicted many GOP conservatives from the beginning of this budget showdown," the editorial read. "They picked a goal they couldn't achieve in trying to defund ObamaCare from one House of Congress, and then they picked a means they couldn't sustain politically by pursuing a long government shutdown and threatening to blow through the debt limit.
"The politics of that are little better than defaulting on debt. Republicans can best help their cause now by getting this over with and moving on to fight more intelligently another day."
trying to link today's "republicans" with "intelligent" is a shameful waste of time and energy. the party that once blathered on about jesus and family values so efficiently severed those links that even anonymous hacktivists stand in awe.
eventually, like a child who couldn't hold his breath any longer, the GOP caved on its hysterical demands. but they promised more of the same infantile behavior in early 2014, when the debt ceiling again must be raised.
remember when the GOP was the party of safe, boring, sober-minded fiscal responsibility? who knew that those days were actually the high point in the party's sad little history...
you don’t need an excuse to run off to hawaii.
you just need an opportunity.
and if that opportunity includes a frenetic, euphoria-fueled 13-mile trail race while you’re there, the first bank of karma will be contacting you shortly ~ you’re way overdrawn.
the xterra gunstock trails half marathon (laie, oahu) is a tough, rambling trek through dusty, arid ranch land, steamy tropical jungle, and rutted back country livestock terrain. runners are reminded to yield to cattle and horses on the trail, and of the high probability they’ll need to high-step piles o’ poop along the way.
my friends, mike and rich, and i drove in darkness from waikiki to gunstock ranch, arriving just as light appeared over the water to the east. as shadows retreated across the hillsides, a few hundred runners milled about the parking lot and the starting area, putting on sunscreen, loosening up, shaking off whatever they did to themselves the night before.
just before race time, a scratchy rendition of the national anthem started up on the PA. all eyes turned to the lone rider in western gear, galloping in wide circles beyond the nearby fenceline, trailing an american flag. if a scene from an old-west rodeo seems non sequitur on a pacific island (and it does), somehow the moment was still poignant. the music faded, the horse reared up, and everyone cheered.
not long after, an actual starting gun went off, and runners surged onto the course. the first couple miles loop around exposed, hot, ranch-y terrain before heading into a welcome canopy of trees. early on, the hills were not terribly steep or long, but the heat and humidity significantly increased the degree of difficulty. aid stations throughout the course handed out water and gatorade by the buckets; gels were consumed by the fist-full.
by mile 5 or so the hills got more serious, narrow single track turned into rocky chutes, and high grass kept us from getting a clear look at where our feet were going. i didn’t see anyone roll an ankle or buckle a knee here, but if it didn’t happen many times over it’s because trail runners are just lucky that way. or something.
just when you started to think, “okay, this is not going to end well,” the trail spits you out onto a stretch of comparatively wide, semi-civilized asphalt. it’s here, if your legs are still sound, that you can get into a faster rhythm and make up time lost meditating on your proprioception.
soon, back into the trees, you’re slogging through mud, thanking whomever you thank at such times for the mist that’s miraculously falling and finding its way onto your face. you sail down a steep hill and into a shady tunnel of overhanging branches. underfoot is the softest bed of mulch-y stuff you’ve run on maybe ever, then you’re right back onto hardpan and pavement to the turnaround point.
back you go to the base of the steep hill you just descended, thinking, “don’t tell me i have to climb back up this #&%^* hill.” turns out, you don’t ~ instead you take a hard right turn and…at this point my memory gets a little hazy. miles 9 and 10 wind their way back into the jungle and through the steep rocky stuff. in the midst of it, at about mile 11, i rolled my ankle far enough to expect a squshy-tearing sensation that involves much pain and a long rehab. it didn’t happen. for some reason, the ankle just rolled right back, and I chugged on, grateful.
my friend rich was not quite so fortunate, in that several minutes later he faceplanted at almost the same milepost. I didn’t see it happen, but he said something about the trail going up, then straight down, with rocks on the other side. his foot caught on one of those rocks and then the bridge of his nose impacted the ground. his knee and both elbows also were macerated, meaning he didn’t absorb the full force of the fall with his face. still, there was blood and an impressive layer of head-to-toe dirt. after a brief self-diagnostic, (“nothing broken, not puking, let’s go”) he got up and kept going. his non-serious injuries won him a nice parting gift at the finish line, so there’s that.
the rest of the race was uneventful, mishap-wise. it felt good to be submerged in the effort and the dirt and the heat and the place. and while i was pretty well spent the last couple miles, i remember thinking, “i really don’t want this to end.” because it was hawaii and running with good friends and the clock is always ticking and how many opportunities in a lifetime can there be for such things?
i didn’t want it to end, but i kept running…so it ended anyway.
afterward there was swimming and outdoor showers in the warm waters of sharks cove, then abundant mexican food and beer in haleiwa, north of laie. we celebrated the race and being together for the first time in a long time. and we appreciated the opportunity, because who knows if it’ll come again.
many thanks to the xterragunstock trails race team (natalie, angel, kevin and greg) who did a great job again this year. the course was just nasty enough, the volunteers were enthusiastic, and the new tech t-shirts will be a long-lasting reminder of an extraordinary event. mahalo.
2nd (M, 50-54)
Friday, October 11, 2013
|no, not this house.|
...but it appears we have bought a house.
this is an ordinary first-world event, in that it happens every day thousands of times over.
spoiler alert: we would have loved a chance, in this context, to be ordinary.
it started with a humble goal: to move out of the house we've rented the past two years. it's too small, too ramshackle, and it lacks the water views the missus was craving.
improbably, and with little searching, we found such a house over in the hoity-toity part of our neighborhood. much bigger, with eye-boggling views of puget sound and the olympic mountains.
we would still be renting, since i was a mere contractor at spaceneedl sprockets and mortgage lenders look askance at that form of currency ~ meaning we couldn't get a decent loan to buy. still, it'd be a pretty cool rental.
cut to: events go upside-down, in three easy steps
step one: give notice at the current rental house (which rents to someone else shortly thereafter).
step two: owners at the new rental suddenly realize they are acutely uncomfortable renting to people with dogs, and therefore cannot rent to us.
step three: t-minus three weeks from having to be out of the current place, we are left with nowhere to go.
cue turmoil, angst, panic.
cut to: events go right-side-up, in four easy steps
step one: within two days, and without warning, spaceneedl sprockets offers to turn me from a contractor into a full-time employee. mind you, this is unprompted and completely out of the blue. make of that what you will. but suddenly we can qualify for a proper mortgage.
step two: rush out to look at houses in our neighborhood, in a low-inventory sellers' market. we are stunned to find a couple of remarkably suitable options the very first morning. happy coincidence: these are houses we would've been very interested in even if we weren't in a huge, panicky hurry.
step three: make an offer and wait. realtor holds open house. wait. no one comes to open house. wait.
step four: owners decide to accept our full-price offer ~ but can't close for a month.
cue frenzied, frantic, move out of old rental into a short-term furnished townhome.
events become a blur. blurriness not completely due to excess drinking. move-related fatigue, new logistics, and lack of sleep also may be a factor.
cut to: more waiting, no easy steps.
the loan approval seems to be done. we wait for that to go upside down.
the new, short-term routine is becoming more routine. we wait for that to go sideways.
the first transitional week is winding down. we wait for earth's poles to flip.
we don't want to jinx anything...
...but we seem to have bought a house.
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
|a smile is a poor umbrella. can i get a towel here?|
when you're outside running in it, however, it's less pedestrian. or, you know, more.
"training specificity is key," according to somebody at runner's world. "tailor your training to your event. if you're traveling to an event, there's not a lot you can do to control elevation and climate changes. but you can study the surface, average weather, and elevation of your event, and plan your training accordingly."
which means my training should've taken place on a treadmill. in the shower.
the forecast for the lake chelan shore-to-shore marathon called for a high of 74, with a 30% chance of showers. the forecast was wrong. so very wrong.
at the start: rain
mile 1: rain
mile 6: rain
mile 14: rain
mile 20: rain
at the finish: rain
every mile in between: rain
i'm not complaining. last year, i've learned, race day was sunny and 90° by 10 a.m. between those extremes, i'll take the rain, every time. it makes "staying hydrated" so much easier.
still, the sloshing was epic.
from what i've heard, the chelan course is very scenic. during the race, however, there was little to see: wet pavement. wet runners. wet volunteers. driving out of town after, the skies lifted a bit, and yes...beautiful. water surrounded by a diorama of high, rolling hills, wrapped dramatically in low clouds. it'd be worth running this event next year on that basis alone (and to test the local claim of "three hundred days of sunshine a year!").
speaking of the volunteers, those out manning the aid stations during this race were spectacular. instead of staying in their cars (or bailing altogether), they geared up and showed up and kept everybody going. they smiled and laughed and cheered, and i would like to high-five all of them.
random rain-related observation: when they're really sopping wet, compression shorts chafe in some unfortunate areas.
random gender-related stat: according to race organizers, 70% of this year's runners were women. make of that what you will ~ but according to the surgeon general, it's because more men are watching more football on the couch these days, and women are just generally smarter than men.*
(* i don't have actual statistics to back this up, but really, would you be a bit surprised?)
song stuck in my head the entire race: long road out of eden. could have been worse. could've been "the night the lights went out in georgia."
my race pace: not fast, but considerably quicker than my long-run training pace. my longest training run was 20 miles, so the last 6.2 miles at chelan were run as if uphill. underwater. still, not so bad.
goal one: finish. check.
goal two: finish in 3:56 or better. check.
waiter, we're done here. check.
on my feet and moving.
Thursday, September 05, 2013
|"don't overthink it."|
~ shakespeare (or was it spock? i don't know. let's go with "shakespock" and call it good)
i'm not a list person, but i have a marathon coming up. and since it's my first marathon, i have a list.
it's got some weird-sounding stuff on it: injinjis and altras and zoots. oh, my. it also has some normal-sounding stuff: shirt, shorts, hat, sunglasses, chia seeds, lime...what?
i'm guessing many of the items on "the list" are completely superfluous, and will be left in the hotel room. but, you know, better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. i'll make a different list next time.
at the top of "the list," in red ink, is the minutes-per-mile pace i'll have to run to finish under four hours. it looks kinda like this: *9-minute miles = 3:56
also up there is the time i'd have to beat to qualify for the boston marathon. it looks kinda like this: *BQ = 3:30:00 ha ha
i left off *marathon world record = 2:03:02 because, you know, there's only so much room on a post-it note.
according to another list, of sorts ("16-week training schedule" @ marathon rookie.com), today was my last pre-event training run. three miles was prescribed, but that seemed short. so i ran 3.5. not sure what impact this transgression will have...if i fall down a half mile short of the finish line, unable to continue, i'll know.
existential dilemma: headphones or no headphones?
there was a time when i wouldn't go for a run, any run, without some kind of sound being pumped into my head. for months it was the music in my itunes library, which eventually evolved to a random pandora mix. after a few months of that i switched to pandora stand-up comedy. i would literally lol while i ran, which may have scared people as i passed by.
that was a long time ago. with a couple rare exceptions, i haven't run with headphones in over a year. then again, i haven't run a marathon before. come mile 18 will i curse myself for deciding not to bring them along? will they distract me so much that i forget to stay hydrated and fall down a half mile from the finish line?
f*ck it, no headphones.
the race-day forecast for lake chelan and vicinity...
Day Sep 7
- Chance of Rain:
- N at 5 mph
- UV Index:
- 6 - High
- 6:27 am
- 9:01 am
- Waxing Crescent
this is fantastic news. daytime highs in chelan can range into the 90s this time of year. so, assuming there's no hair-igniting lightning associated with these showers, we can stay focused on important topics, such as why there was no rain gear on "the list."
(note to self: add "rain gear" to "the list." then figure out what "rain gear" means in this context.)
packet pick-up and pre-race dinner will be at the vin du lac winery in chelan. they'll be pouring $5 glasses of wine for the occasion. woo hoo, cheap-but-good wine! which i will totally be foregoing. mutter*mumble*murmur...
my first marathon put up a fight. i was all trained up in april ahead of a may 5 target event (vancouver, BC!)...but life happened, that window closed, and months went by. come to find out there aren't that many (road) marathons scheduled during summer, and fewer still that synchronized with our family schedule.
but an obsessive scouring of the internet turned up a race that fit the calendar, was not too far from home, and was not insanely expensive. when i signed up it seemed far in the future. now, in the blink of an eye, it's upon us. so it goes.
as someone said (i don't know who), "you run the first ten miles of a marathon with your head. you run the second ten with your legs. and you run the last 6.2 with your heart."
standing here, t-minus three days and counting, i have a good bit of confidence in my legs. in my head, not as much. it's time to find out about the heart.
"when I run, the world grows quiet. demons are forgotten, krakens are slain, and blerches are silenced."
~ matthew inman
on my feet and moving.
Monday, September 02, 2013
|more than one way to dance...|
which means i've been running extra miles here and there, in hopes my body won't get halfway into the event and decide, "no."
in the handful of months leading up to race day (sept. 7), i averaged about 110 miles per. in the final few weeks pre-taper i averaged about 39 miles per. in august, according to my handy-dandy mileage log web site, i ran 155 miles.
that's 20+ miles farther than any calendar page in my brief running history.
i don't want to make a big deal of this, because lots of runners i know put in lots more miles than that every month. on the other hand, i do want to dance a quick little dance celebrating the difference between august and all the months that came before it.
there. done. i'm not much of a dancer.
continuing on this path, it turns out that i want to continue on this path. which is to say, i want this to be the first of many such events. after this, i have an october trail half marathon on oahu...after that i'm eyeballing a trail marathon in november.
after that...who knows.
but, i get ahead of myself. one goal at a time.
one step at a time.
on my feet and moving.