First Day Back


a ok boss

This is Mt. Tamalpais.

(Oh and my very favorite sassy pink and black striped fingerless gloves which were given to me by a very fashionable BFF. I was stopped not once but twice on the trail today to accept compliments for them, which made me and the gloves very happy. Looking good = feeling good = truth.)

This is the view to the west of my trail run, a view I cherish every single moment I see it. This is the view that energize me, calms me, inspires me, protects me, urges me, holds me. This view is how I know everything will always, no matter what, be a-okay.

Exercising New Muscles

Fast-walked the two mile loop again tonight.  Wow, that’s three times this week.  With a sore throat and everything.  (Oh, made the appointment with the acu for Saturday, can.not.wait.)  Took the iPhone again, on mute, and stopped for a few more homework snaps.  These two are my favorite.

You can see that I still insist on wearing my florescent yellow running (stolen from the cycling department) vest.  Safety is sexy.  But what you should really be looking at is my excellent composition <ahem>.  How cool does this look with the tilt-shift blur???  I love it.

And this one is just neato.   Even though it is so California Spanish Mission, it really makes me miss New Mexico.  And the civics geek in me loves that it is the town, I mean, city hall.

Day 14: Daft Punk, deadmau5, Depeche Mode, DOOBIES…

Something that always makes me giggle about Los Angeles, are the endless streams of people not at work in the middle of the day.  (Lawyers, agents and studio execs are exempt from this however, since all they do is work, and go to many lunches.  You only see them on weekends at yoga.)  This is mainly attributed to the legions who are actors, writers, directors, producers, and the unemployed production professionals between shows who may be on the streets, but are completely stressed about where/when/how the next job is going to materialize.  Then there are those who are out an about who are working, but are in the employ of someone with a perception that they have less time than the rest of us, but in reality just have more money and can therefore hire out for minding, errands and dogwalking.  What is really funny though is that all of these people never really seems like they are trying to find a job or even working, rather they all seem to be working out at Runyon Canyon.  I feel that I have credibility on this topic as I have been one of the LA unemployeds tromping up down Runyon with wannabe starlets, pasty-looking writers, and all manner of canines.  And most every time I am in town, I head over for a dose of Runyon-life.

It was about 400 degrees by 9AM, but the parking opens up right then, so I was glad I waited.  Not only do I get a kick out of the street-theatre of Runyon, but there is a really excellent steep face that I needed for some serious uphills.  I hit the trail with a good steady march, and got to the bottom of the climb in only about five minutes.  I realized just how much I was sweating and that it was time to shed a layer, something I often don’t get to do at home, but was going to fit right in being half naked in the land of obsessively perfect <ahem, too skinny> bodies.  Even just in a sports bra and shorts I was more covered than some of the ladies.  But what the hell, it was hot.

At the top of the climb, I took a quick break, went back down the same way, and then back up as fast as I could.  This is when the music choice became critical and the only thing that would work was something synthesizery.  Those types of songs make me feel like a robot machine that will plow down anything it its path as opposed to a flesh and blood asthma sufferer, wheezing her way up the hill.  I got some Daft Punk to shove my ass to the top and catch my breath, then deadmau5 started thumping away for a super-fast take off down the hill.  I love a downhill run. I jammed past all sorts of trudging unemployeds, hipsters dressed inappropriately for the weather and venue, and the young starlets wearing extensions that probably cost more than two months rent.  Depeche Mode helped me weave around cute groups of moms and babies and dogs, all of us exchanging smiles as I went on by.

As I neared the bottom of the hill, feeling quite energized by this workout, the Doobies came on for a cool down.  I thought about just how long LA has been part of my life, but also how just plain weird of a place it always seems.  As “Minute By Minute” played in my ears, I thought about coming here every year as a kid, head exploding every time I saw a limo or a movie star or the Beverly Center.  I have been lucky to see LA over several decades and lived here for 11 years as an adult, and while it is a place built on having the newest new all the time, I don’t miss the feeling that I have to keep up with that anymore.

I will keep coming to Runyon though.

Days 29, 28, 27, 26: The (Long) One With 9/11

From Thursday to tonight I have only gotten in two runs and one unplanned made-me-miss-the-ferry nearly two-mile walk (at least I had a beer buzz).  Considering the amount of food I consumed this weekend, not to mention the wavering emotions, I am a little frustrated I did not get more mileage in to counteract all the carbs and stress. I’m going to make like Rudy Guiliani and blame 9/11.

My mom was visiting this weekend as it was my nephew’s 2nd birthday.  Nothing makes time go faster than watching a small human grow, mostly because they change so radically in such a short period of time.  I am glad it works out that change becomes glacial once we hit our adult years otherwise we’d all be having nervous breakdowns trying to keep up let alone stay present.  On Thursday, Day 29, my mom came with me on the 3-miler.  She walked and I ran with the dogs ahead and then back to her so she could see me and forward and then back.  It seemed like a really good idea at the time, except that the dogs were totally confused and I was short-fused (I mentioned my mom was in town right?) and so what is normally therapeutic and fun became tangled leashes and jerky starts and stops.  Also fun was the moment that a confused Rocco decided to take a dump right in the MIDDLE of the blindest intersection on the entire route causing a halting back-up of a moving truck which blocked all cars behind him, my mom to blurt out the oblivious question, “What’s going on?!” and me trying not to killed by surly, entitled suburban drivers as I picked up the stinky logs of poo.   I admit it: part of me wanted to throw the bag of turds at the glaring drivers, but I tend to have bad aim.  Once we got to the trail, mom took a few pics of me running ahead.

Looking west.

Sleep was elusive on Thursday night too.  Although I have one helluva comfy couch, I think I only eeked out about four hours.  Friday Day 28 workday was fine, beers came early, but the trains were running late, so I walked superfast all the way to the ferry building but still missed the good (aka high-speed) boat.  I sat down and fell promptly to sleep for a good 40 minutes.  There would be no run when I got home.  Sorry doggies!  I did manage to get a look at the spectacular  fingernail moon and Venus in the western sky just above the horizon of Mt. Tam.  Um, wow.

Saturday Day 27 was also 9/11.  Nine years since the hijackings and attacks.  Nine years.  I was up very early so I almost immediately tapped into the memories of of 2001.  We all have our stories.  Mine is similar to many I am sure, but my life today is so very different from that morning’s life.  As I cooked and cleaned my way around the casita with the memorial gatherings playing on my TV, I burst into tears.  I remembered seeing the 2nd plane hit and explode live on my TV and the chilling, nauseous adrenaline of shock and confusion wrack my entire body.  I knew something was very, very wrong.

I let myself cry, and then would pause from cleaning to listen to moments of Michelle Obama’s speech at the Flight 93 memorial service.  Then I would go back to dusting, trying to let the progress of going from dirty to clean be a small and normal triumph over the sadness of the day.  Completely weird, but it helped.  I switched over to the radio and there was a set of California themed songs playing.  When “California Stars” by Woody Guthrie and Wilco came on, I smiled and cried.  This was the song I played in my classroom the day after 9/11 for my students to try and explain how I felt safe that we were not at Ground Zero, but also the to feel the connectedness of all Americans.

When my family arrived we had a birthday brunch in the stunning weather of the late morning.  It felt good for us to  be together and eat and laugh and sing and blow out candles and watch hummingbirds and dance and pet the dogs and just be.

Here's how.

This beautiful, but understated day then took a frustrating turn for me.  Upon returning home with my mom from a trip to the mall I checked the mail.  I received a letter from the SF Transit Authority which was in response to a violation protest I had filed back in April.  It is far too irritating to re-tell the story here, but basically, the letter said my violation was valid and I was liable for the cost of the citation.  Right there in front of my mom, and I am pretty certain because of her presence, I completely lost my temper, began screaming, yelling and cursing, and then hurling my aluminum water bottle from the Marin Marathon across my kitchen impaling it into the cabinet.  Not my finest moment.  I don’t think I would have done that had I been alone or with someone else, which is sad to me that I think it’s okay to behave like a 12 year old in front of my mom.  HOWEVER, our story is long and sometimes brutal…

I realized I was not going to be able to recover from the abyss I put myself into, mostly because I was looking at spending the rest of the evening with my family.  It didn’t feel safe to me to be with them when I was in this fragile of a mood, so I drove her to my brother’s in near silence and mono-syllables.  She was kind and gave me something I needed and then I left and cried all the way back to my place.  Car-crying is big for me.

It was time to run.  I looked at the dogs and had to tell them they were not coming this time.  Poor Duke had had a seizure in the middle of the night on Friday and was extra-drugged so I would not have taken him anyway, but I knew I needed to go fast and long and alone.

I hit a nice stride at about mile 2 and let my mind get connected with my body.  I thought a lot about the Tough Mudder and the team and how I need to work out more and that I am not even really sore from a work out yet but that I also don’t want to hurt myself and I paid close attention to my creaky knees and my form.  I realized I was running faster and stronger, and had the sensation I like to call the “magic carpet” where it feels like I am floating and the road is moving under me.

And then the 9/11 memories came back.

I thought about how last year, I sent out an email to friends and family, expressing my love and gratitude for them.  Many wrote back with the same sentiments.  I also sent an email to my ex-husband, as it was our life I was living when the planes hit.  I had not communicated with him in probably two years, and none of what was going on then was of the positive variety.  I told him I was thinking of him and that I hoped he was well, which was true, but was not surprised that he could not even return that gesture of goodwill.  My thoughts came closer back to the present, but the emotions still near the surface.  I thought again of  “California Stars” and my adopted home state.  The music knew what to do, and “Como Ves” by Ozomatli came on, its marching beat and whistles shifting me into fifth gear.

And then, of course, Tom Petty with his song, “California.”

California’s been good to me
Hope it don’t fall into the sea
Sometime you got to trust yourself
It ain’t like anywhere else
It ain’t like anywhere else

It’s time to roll,
I’m all done.
It’s time we better hit the road
I got work later on,
It’s time we better hit the road.

California’s been good to me
Hope it don’t fall into the sea
Sometime you got to save yourself
It ain’t like anywhere else
It ain’t like anywhere else…

(Digression: I love this song more than most, but I also get homesick for Santa Fe whenever I think about how many years I’ve been in California.  There is a melancholy beauty to this tune that zings right in on my sense of the transience of my adopted home and many feelings of what is “home” exactly?  I am still searching for it… )

Even with all the visits of memory ghosts, I was both elated and calm as climbed the last long hill to this current version of home.  I still felt a pang of guilt for my temper tantrum, but I had called and apologized to my mom before I left on the run, and then decided to forgive myself.  I have had an extremely tough set of years, and 99% of the time, I do not throw things.  I got practical and looked to the fridge for hydration.

Looking for my Purity water.

Sunday Day 26 came and went, with a detour into some seriously delicious noodles and soup dumplings at a hole-in-the-wall Anthony Bourdain would approve of.  I did the airport run and drove home, easing into Sunday night with a lot of writing, cooking and reflecting.  I didn’t run, but thought all about the previous three days.  I thought about my nephew’s birthday celebration too, and how I danced and sang with him to The Beatles “Hello Goodbye” one of the best songs in the history of the world.  He kept saying, “Dance to The Beatles with Zia!”

Finally, I remembered yesterday’s run and how it healed me.