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Archive for September, 2011

Slow Life

This week has been an anomoly; Mike has been traveling, Sammy is back with her mom, so it’s just been me and the pup. As I mentioned in an earlier post, when it’s just me and the pup mornings start early; we’ve been at our open space park every day this week by 6am, pre-dawn, when it’s just almost light enough for him to chase his beloved tennis ball.

I like our open space park; it’s about 17 acres of off leash dog run space, with another 145 acres of not-off leash trails meant for horses and hikers and mountain bikes. In fact, I’d say this open space area is indicative of everything I like about where I live; this park is just a mile south of some seriously depressing newly built subdivisions and office parks, but that mile is a long one, and as you drive it you can feel the space give way from concrete to nature again. Down this way, by my house (about 25 miles south of Denver), the anonymous housing tracks give way to elevation and rolling hills and herds of cattle and elk meandering around.

Just hanging out in the neighborhood...

As the sun comes up, the pup and I move from the off-leash space (where he is free to roam and chase balls and play with other pups) to the bigger trail. (He gets his walk in the morning, I get mine.) It’s this part of the morning that I really love, watching the sun rise come across the plains from the east and reflect the wall of mountains to the west.

There are things I don’t like about living in Colorado. After so many years in D.C., the developed areas feel too new, they lack the character I loved about the historic D.C. streets and homes. I sometimes miss the aggressive careerism. And of course, I miss my urban family, my people that I grew up with through my twenties.

But on the whole, I have to say: I love it here. Yes, I am sandwiched by subdivisions everywhere I go, but driving home I wind down a road lined with pine trees and horse farms. I have time for slow cups of coffee in the morning, after a first shock of natural caffeine in the form of mountain air. I’m out of work in time to make it to the local track club or evening crossfit class. It’s a slower life here than I had in D.C., but for now, it fits me.

I think life, regardless of where you live, will always be as fast or as slow as you want it to be. But moving out here has been a nice exercise in forcibly slowing down. Even though I’ve been up by 5am every day this week, I feel more rested than I have in a long, long while.

*****

I’ve been thinking about this concept of “Slow Life” this week as I just finished the book “Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put on My Pajamas, And Found Happiness.” It’s written by Dominque Browning, the former editor of House & Garden, telling of the year after she was fired and forcibly retired. In a way it seems to fit into the theme of the “The Me Years” I talked about last week, except instead of spending her 20s figuring her “me” stuff, Dominque found herself doing that in her 50s. As someone who has always loved being good at my job, and has loved the structure and energy my jobs have given to my life, I liked the discussion revolving “Ok, so what happens when the job goes away?”

I don’t much care for memoirs, but this one kept me reading.

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Phoning It In

I’m kind of phoning it in today because: a) it’s almost Friday, b) I just gave blood and am all woooo and, c) my dog is doing this new thing where he thinks we’re going running at 4am.  We are not, in fact, going running at 4am, but the dude is an optimist and figures, you know, why not check in to see if today is the day we go at 4am. And keep re-checking every ten minutes thereafter. Which is my way of saying we went at *5am*, ha, take THAT, dog! Clearly I am soooo the ruler of this house.

ANYWAY.

So! I’m tired, I’m down a pint of blood, and I’m re-posting. I wrote this a couple of years ago, but as I’ve been actively trying to reclaim my love of my previous runner lifestyle, I read it again today to aid in my ongoing re-motivation (totally a word.) And because it’s officially Fall (38 degrees on the running trail this AM, y’all. 38 degrees) and people are bumping up miles for half marathons and marathons and/or just running because it’s PERFECT out, I thought I’d share. Um, again.

 My morning:

  • Get up
  • Whine
  • Go back to bed
  • Get back up.
  • Shiver.
  • Whine.
  • Brush teeth.
  • Look for running clothes
  • Locate shirt in dryer
  • Remember that I need pants
  • Locate pants
  • Stub toe.
  • Curse.
  • Look for socks.
  • Find one. Victory!
  • Remember that I need two socks.
  • Damnit!
  • Find second sock. Sock #2 is different thickness than sock #1.
  • Debate how much this will bother me while running.
  • Decide “A lot”
  • Look for different sock.
  • Fail at finding new sock
  • Suck up the different thickness socks.
  • Reach for caffeinated Gu.
  • Discover lack of caffeinated Gu.
  • Curse.
  • Look for gloves.
  • Find gloves.
  • Rejoice!
  • Look for Ipod.
  • Remember have not charged iPod in 4 days.
  • Curse.
  • Attempt to tie shoes while wearing gloves.
  • Fail.
  • Remove gloves, tie shoes.
  • Leave house
  • Step outside. Note that it is raining.
  • And cold
  • Curse.
  • Go to start watch.
  • Notice that I forgot watch.
  • Curse
  • Begin to notice how pretty everything is all covered in fog
  • …until I start running and realize that water on the streets is turning into big sheets of ice.
  • Run slow so as to not slip.
  • (yeah. That’s it. That’s *exactly* why I was running slow)
  • Notice that ass has frozen and seems to be bouncing independently from my body.
  • Bitch about ice on ground.
  • Suspend bitching once sun rises and I notice how pretty the National Mall looks.
  • Resume bitching when submerge foot in big puddle.
  • Dream about the wonderful DC Spring weather, and the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler
  • Conveniently forget that I am allergic to the cherry blossoms and will in no way be able to run while they are in bloom.
  • Be annoyed that socks are different thickness and one shoe is looser than the other.
  • Round the end of the Mall over by Lincoln. Look up at Abe, look at slick steps covered in ice and puddles leading up to Abe, and give him a wave, promising to visit him later.
  • Get cold.
  • Start to run faster to warm up and get home.
  • Send Husband mental thoughts consisting of “Make breakfast and coffee…make breakfast and coffee…’
  • Stop running fast. Pant.
  • Resume slogging
  • Get home
  • Give Husband a big sweaty kiss despite the fact that he did not get the mental message of “coffee and breakfast”
  • Hop in warm shower and think to self “I love running”
  • Smile when I realize: I actually meant it. I DO love running.

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My library holds have been coming at me in force – books put on hold months ago all popping up at the same time – and I’m plugging through like it’s my job. (It is not, sadly, my job.) After a long spell of not really loving any books out there, it’s been so wonderful to read a bunch in a row that have left me captivated.  I just finished Divergent, and OH how I loved it. It was as captivating as The Hunger Games, but I think I liked it even more, mostly because I liked the two main characters much, much more. (For those that have read this book: FOUR, amirite?) (I am right.)

Speaking of books, a girl I knew a while ago just wrote and published her first book: The Me Years. I love the premise of this book – girl in mid-twenties dating the wrong people and taking the time to figure out what matters to her in terms of faith and values and yada yada…mostly I just like the title because I really do consider those years in my twenties (she says, with an air of authority, now that she is all of thirty years old) as my “me years” – responsible to no one and nothing, spending time figuring what was interesting to me – did I want to spend my weekends out and about partying, or did I want to spend them on a bike training for an Ironman? Did I want to join this club or that club or work 80 hours a week to get ahead and do it without feeling guilty about being absent? Looking back, it really was a great handful of years to just trial and error through the way I wanted to live my life, and I think a book written by someone who is better than me at writing about these things would be really interesting.

HOWEVER. This girl I knew awhile back? I knew her because she dated my brother. And my brother has a role in this book. And while my brother and I frequently discuss our relationships, it’s VERY HIGH LEVEL and while I appreciate being close to him and all, I kind of don’t think I need to uhhh, read too much detail about his relationships, amirite? (I am right.)

So anyway, this is all my way of saying: Will some of you go read that book for me and let me know if it’s sibling appropriate? I’d really appreciate it.

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Customer Service

A few weeks ago I scraped my car against the side of a cement post while making a sharp right hand turn into the gas pump. (Follow? Needed gas, had to position car close enough to pump in order to um, pump, cut the turn too close,  scrapped the back passenger door/wheel well on the post that was there to um, prevent cars from cutting that turn too close.)

In my defense:  it was 5:30 in the morning and I’d been up since 4am with a dog that has gotten so conditioned to the morning park/hike/walk thing we’ve been doing that he cannot possibly wait until, you know, the SUN comes up, so my getting gas at 5:30 en route to the trail head was my way of procrastinating until it got light enough to go there and the coffee shop drive through opened up so GIVE ME A BREAK IT WAS PRE DAWN AND I HAD HAD NO COFFEE

(In my non-defense: this is so not the first time I have had this kind of accident. Not just “scrapping the car” type of accident, but, by my count, this is at the very least the third time I have scrapped a car in the EXACT SAME SPOT (rear passenger side door/wheel). Guys, I dunno. It’s a spacial perception thing or a TOO MANY DAMN THINGS IN MY WAY thing or … I don’t know. I’m a good driver and have a relatively low accident/speeding ticket to time spent driving ratio, but … right hand turns, man. The death of me. )

(What this means to me is I obviously need a mini, right? Smaller car would solve, this RIGHT?)

(Anyway.)

ANYWAY! So after much groveling and apologizing and general feeling-bad-ing about it, I sack up and call our insurance to get this taken care of. Now, I love our insurance people. I am only half joking when I say one of the top five perks of marrying my husband was access to USAA. They are phenomenal. And sure enough, in the space of a ten minute phone call (dial to hand up), the USAA rep had arranged for an appointment at a body shop nearby, arranged for a rental car to meet me there, and assured me that it would all be super painless and easy. But the best part? The very very best part of this entire incident?”

Customer Service Rep: “So would you say the cement pillar came out of nowhere, then?”

Me: “… yes”

Customer Service Rep: “Well, that happens. Were any cement pillars harmed as a result of them unexpectedly jumping into the path of your car?”

Me: “…no”

WERE ANY CEMENT PILLARS HARMED. You guys, I can’t even. I love this nameless Customer Service Rep. Now THAT is how you take an auto insurance claim.

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Here’s what no one tells you about painting your house: If you’re married, you and your spouse must AGREE on a color scheme before you can commence painting. This seems like not a huge deal, right, until you find yourself in the paint section of Lowes arguing over shades of beige and going back and forth between “Dusted Bronze” and “Burnt Copper” and before you know it you find yourself thinking: How could I possibly love someone who thinks “Wilmington Tan” is even remotely appropriate for the front hallway, what the HELL, and I swear if he brings “Taylor Taupe” back into this conversation divorce is fucking imminent, man.

Which is all my way of saying that we’ve tabled the painting decisions for the time being.

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“There are people out there who hate us, and they want us to die. If I can go over there, and in some way make sure they don’t come over here, that’s worth it to me”

That’s what my husband said to me just before his deployment to Northern Iraq in 2008. I was asking him how he felt about going, if he was resentful or anxious or feeling like he shouldn’t. With most people I know in the military, there is a feeling of “if my friends are going then I should be going too” but I think I was glad to hear that there was conviction in him that went beyond that.

I mention this not just because today is September 11th, but because there’s been discussions on my little corner of the Internet recently about young soliders and other recruits that enlisted after September 11th, and how sad it was that most of the recruits came from places very far from New York and D.C., the implication being, I think, that it was perhaps less their responsibility to fight than people who were more personally impacted by the attacks.

I think I understand the point — there could be, perhaps, closer examination about recruiting techniques and the reality that for all the opportunities the military offers, it perhaps unfairly targets the poorest among us for a more dangerous job than more fortunate people would need to consider, but mostly I just think… who cares if someone in the military comes from Texas or New York, isn’t the danger of the attacks coming here the same for all of us?

I lived a few blocks away from the White House in 2001, and the night of September 11th, I went to bed more scared than I have ever been in my life. I remember thinking how weird that was, that I was frightened to fall asleep; I kept my contacts in and my shoes nearby, because I honestly didn’t know if I’d get to sleep through the night. My stepdaughter has never, ever felt that way. And that’s why my husband went over, and his friends, and many, many other men and women who would likely rather be doing something else with their time, and I don’t think their sense of responsibility or duty is limited to how closely that specific day touched them.

Anyway, that’s what I’m thinking about today — how that day ten years ago changed the way I view the work of our military, certainly how it altered the cadence of my life in terms of being married to someone in the military, (and not to mention my career, which has included many years of work in the defense industry and side work with wounded veterans as part of the U.S. Paralympic program – areas that prior to September 11th were niche markets at best) and how ten years is such a long time, how my stepdaughter, if she remembers that day at all, perhaps only remembers it in the most theoretical of ways. And how I hope that is as close as she will ever have to think about a day like that — something very bad that happened, a very long time ago, with no idea that it could be her reality, too.

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Who’s Ready for Fall?

Me. I am. ME!!!! It’s suppose to be in the high 70s today – a nice change from yesterday’s 90 degrees– and I’m taking that as a sign to skip Crossfit tonight and go running in the woods.

In other fall running thoughts, I’ve been chatting a bit in the comments over at Health on the Run about last year’s Bourbon Chase and MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN do I want to do that again. Running through horse country in October with the promise of Bourbon at the end of your leg? Yes, please. I wonder if I can get my IM crew to rally next fall for a little runnin’ race….

Anyway! That’s what I’m thinking about today while I struggle through Friday. (Long week – home from Belgium (yes I know hard life) at 11pm on Tuesday and right to work Wednesday morning: TIRED.) I am getting excited for Labor Day weekend, both because of an extra day to catch up on sleep, but also because, finally, after 7ish months in our house, I am Ready To Nest. We are still living in white walls and lots of left over furnishings (did I tell you our house came furnished? It did. And we’re finally like, “yeah, actually that decorative bowl of pine cones has got to go.”) So it will be nice to actually have some time to do some heavy lifting and start making the house feel like ours. I mean, obviously, there’s no rush (seven months, y’all), but something snapped in me a few weeks ago where I was like “MUST PAINT ALL THE THINGS” and the sight of a what previously was a perfectly fine couch is now prompting me into a rage. So! Nesting it is this Labor Day weekend.

It seems fitting, given that last fall was all about uprooting and moving — I’m ready to make this fall about settling down and staying.

Whatchu got going on this weekend? Wanna help me paint?

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