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Archive for October, 2011

My friend Karen tweeted at me this morning that she was posting pics of my old running haunts.  In response, I felt motivated to head out on the first snowfall on the winter to get her some pics of my new morning running loop.

For reference, this was my old running route:

Pretty nice, huh? For those who care, that is the view of the National Mall from the path that leads up to Roosevelt Island.  (For that particular run,  I needed to be done with 13 miles and showered by 7:30am, which is why I’m watching sunrise from five miles away from my house.) (Also, after taking that picture, I put my iPhone back in the back pocket of my tri top, where it proceeded to, over the next 8 miles, chafe an iPhone shaped tramp stamp into my back, the scars of which have only recently faded away.) (You can see why I remember this run so vividly.)

Anyway! New year, new state, new running route. Dorky Winner Running Hat Season has officially kicked off:

There are some GREAT single track trails behind my house, however the snow today is SO wet and SO heavy that it would have been hard to find traction and keep feet dry. No fun. Plus: hard to see where the actual trail is:

The trail is back there somewhere, I swear.

So anyway, I kept it to the streets:

That might not look uphill, but: it is. Seriously, I don’t know HOW it’s possible, but every route from my house involves climbing uphill, even the ones coming home. The last bike ride I went on included 700 feet of climbing in the first three miles. Suuuuuuuuuuck.

And of course, let’s not forget my trusty sidekick, the world’s most reluctant running partner:

You guys – he hates running SO much. We went out the front door for this run, and I bent to tie my shoe and he disappeared. I figured he went back into the woods to explore, but no: he ran back to the front door and was waiting patiently for me to let him back inside. HA. He is also a big fan of grabbing his leash and pulling me back home, a trick I appreciate on the uphill climb back:

So! Not the best showcasing of the new running routes, as I couldn’t get back into the trails and the mountain views are filled with snow and fog, but good enough for a random Wednesday. Thanks for getting me going, Karen! I miss meeting up with you pre-dawn with our caffeinated gu, but glad you’ve joined the blogging bandwagon 🙂

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I think I’ve mentioned before my friend who was running down the National Mall one morning and got so into her music that she didn’t notice for a quarter of mile that there was a police car behind her with sirens on trying to get her to move out of the way. Once she did notice and was able to get off the sidewalk/path, she had to fess up:  she was so unaware of her surroundings because she was rocking out to … mmmmBop.

I mention this because I know that if you can relate to that, you won’t judge me for mentioning that while training for the 2006 Marine Corps Marathon, my Power Song, my Go-To-Lets-Rock-This-Run song was … Cherry Cherry, by Neil Diamond.

Look, I don’t know. When you run for hours at at a time you will find yourself air-banding to whatever keeps you moving.

Anyway, I mention THAT because this weekend I found myself (she says, as if she didn’t actively purchase tickets, make plans, and drive us there. Oh no, I just, like, TRIPPED, and FOUND MYSELF) at a Neil Diamond Cover Band concert (SUPER DIAMOND, WOOO) with my brothers, sisters-in-law and parents. I’m not sure if every parent wants to spend their 39th wedding anniversary at a fake Neil Diamond show — hell, I’m not sure if even MY parents want to spend their 39th wedding anniversary at a fake Neil Diamond show — but they were good sports about it:

Before the show started, my brothers and I started laying down bets: First Song (20 points), Song in the First Five (10 points), Closing Song (20 points).

I nailed it, you guys. I can’t remember what my brothers picked (I mean, who remembers the losing guesses? No one, that’s who), but I was DEAD ON with mine:

  • Opener: Cherry Cherry
  • First Five: Forever in Blue Jeans
  • Closer: America

Oh, Cherry Cherry. Just like 2006, you never let me down.

(In case you are wondering, I celebrated my victory by… buying everyone another round of drinks. I might be a winner, but I’m still a little sister, so. You know.)

(My brother doesn’t, um, normally look like this; earlier that day was the Denver Zombie Bar Crawl, and when you marry a woman who used to work in special effects make-up — which he did — you are contractually required to Go All Out)

But enough about my amazing ability to predict what a fake Neil Diamond concert set list will be. At one point during the show, I leaned to my brother and said “Man, the white man overbite is strong in this place”, to which he correctly replied: “I think in this particular group there’s no need for so many qualifiers; you can safely just call it “The Bite.”

And how. It was a pretty good text book Stuff White People Like weekend — Neil Diamon, PBR, and the occasional zombie bar crawl. Good work, team Lewis, good work.

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A bunch of my friends are heading to Austin this weekend. My good friend Laura lives in Austin. I’ve got Austin on the brain. 

I, for one, am NOT heading to Austin because of the Great Lewis Autumnal* Visit of 2011;  my whole family is coming into town, including my brother and sister-in-law who otherwise live in a small town in Chianti and dig for rocks. (At least, I think that’s what they do. They’re archaeologists/art historians who have structured their life in such a way that they live in Italy half the year, so who cares what they’re really doing there, right? They already win) The thing that makes this a Great Visit vs. just a Visit is that while I see one brother and sister-in-law because they live 25 minutes up the road, and my parents frequently because we play the “two kids/one city” card,  it’s rare to get to see the other brother/sister-in-law off the holiday cycle, what with their whore-Italy dwelling and such, so truly, this weekend deserves its own title.

(*Also! Did you know that Autumnal means both 1) “belonging to or suggestion of Autumn” and 2) “past maturity or middle life” ? It really is the perfect title for the weekend.)

Anyway! Austin! My girl Laura sent me a link to this great Austin photographer who had recently shot a kids triathlon, and if these don’t bring a smile to your face, well, then … I guess I have no idea what brings a smile to your face but ANYWAY these are great pics. They completely remind me of how much stinkin’ FUN I had at my first tri and how much I want to do that again. So go on, give it a click

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I read a great little interview with Jonny Weir this morning; I just love the way this guy expresses himself. Worth a look if you’re looking for ten minutes of procrastination today:

 I skate whenever I can and I fit my training in whenever I can because aside from it being my job and the thing that I love to do, it keeps my ass high and tight like a neck brace—where it’s supposed to be.

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Fall Running, Continued

I went for one of those perfect Fall runs yesterday morning – 40 degrees and sunny at the start, perfect weather to work hard but feel great. Mike and Moose came with me and it was, by far, the highlight of my week.  A great 4 mile run in brisk weather with good conversation was just what I needed.

My “Yay, Running” mood was further reflected by yesterday’s daily Runners World “Quote of the Day” :

If I don’t run for a few days, I feel like my insides are dirty. The run kind of scrubs my veins and arteries, and then all starts to feel right with the world. I’m not one of those fanatical people that if I miss a run, I go nuts. But when it’s something you love, you make sure you have the time to do it.

Daryn Kagan, former CNN Anchor and creator of the award-winning DarynKagan.com

I love that.  Yeah, I can live without running and crossfit and activity, but I sure don’t want to.  The world is better when I make the time for it.

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I love Goodreads and I demand you all join it.

Goodreads is like Facebook except you only get updates about what people are reading or what they want to read. The homepage simply scrolls down the changes to people’s reading list… “so and so added THIS book to read!” “so and so read THIS book and thought it sucked” etc.  (Ok, so now that I think about it more carefully there is actually nothing like Facebook about this site, except they both fall under “social media” but whatever)

I started with Goodreads in 2008, and then promptly forgot about it. The trick to enjoy the site is having a decent list of friends who you can turn to in order to get reading suggestions or to get a feel for a book you’re thinking about picking up (or to commiserate in the completely awful yet you loved it anyway guilty pleasure books.) This summer I added the iPhone app and could easily get to my “To-Read” list whenever I was in a library or a bookstore, which made the site that much more useful.

So. You should all go join, and that way you can see all the books I mention haphazardly here, and I can see the books on your radar, and we can all be happy book friends.

Pro Tips:

  1. Do not join and think that you must automatically populate your “Read” list with every book you have ever read. That is an overwhelming time suck and will turn you off from the site forever. We know you didn’t start reading today, we will go on faith that you have read many interesting and literary books in the past; it is completely acceptable to start at zero for Goodreads purposes and build up your “shelves” as you go along starting with the day you joined.
  2. When reviewing books do not, under any circumstance, start the review with a summary of the plot. That is not a book review, that is a book report, and Goodreads helpfully supplies that plot summary on the very same page where I am reading your review.  There is nothing less helpful than scanning the page of a book you think you’re interested in only to find that 30 people have supplied their basic timeline of the story instead of their opinions about it. Stop that. Helpful reviews include things like “I really like true crime stories, and this particular book does that one thing I like really well” or “This book has a decent premise, but the writing was so impressed with itself that it made me want to strangle it.” Tell people WHY you like a book, not what the book is ABOUT.
  3. Friend me so I can see what you’re reading and read your fantastic non-plot summarizing reviews.

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Oh, you guys. I’m so sad about something and I really doubt my ability to express to you in exactly the way I want.

Have I mentioned I went to camp as a kid? I did. It was a seven week all girls camp in Southern Maine. It was 110 girls, ages 9-16, and I went there for seven years (plus one year as a counselor when I was in college.) Growing up in Minnesota, I suppose it seemed a little random to everyone around me that I would go away to a camp in Maine for seven weeks, but it was far from: my mom and her sisters attended the same camp growing up, my uncles and my brothers attended the boy-version of that camp in the next town over; it was a family affair. And while Maine is FAR from Minnesota, going back every year, for as long as I did, meant I was seeing the same girls year after year; they were my friends, closer than many of the friends I had in MN, and I still keep in touch with many of them today.

I can’t quite express what a gift it was to be able to attend this camp year after year, but that is exactly what it was: a gift. For seven weeks every year I got to leave my home and go be myself with my friends; I wasn’t a little sister or the youngest child, I was just me, back for another summer of friends and horses and campfires and singing and sunsets. There was no electricity or technology; I learned the art going to bed when it was dark and writing letters in order to have some contact with the outside world. I ran back to camp after my freshmen year in college and spent a glorious seven weeks working my butt off as a counselor (don’t think working at a camp is hard work? Try living with six 11 year olds for seven weeks with no break) and was able to reset myself after a frantic first year of living on my own.

In many ways I consider this camp to be another version of home, and every summer as “camp season” starts up, I get a pang of sadness that I don’t get to go back, even though it’s been ten years since I’ve been there.

The director of the camp was a woman named June; she was a counselor there when my mom and aunts were campers in the 50s, and she was still there when I showed up as an awkward ten year old. She lived at the camp year round and dedicated her life to keeping the summer experience the same for every girl who showed up, and she treated us like family. One of my most vivid memories of June is seeing her showing up at the last minute to my aunt’s funeral in the fall of 1999. She hadn’t seen my aunt since the 50s, but she knew my aunt’s daughter (my cousin, who also attended camp), and me, and my mom, and even though the east coast was getting pummeled by hurricanes that September weekend, she hiked it from Maine to New York to be with us.

June died this past week, which shouldn’t be as surprising as it is; after all, she was “old” when I was there as a teenager– and it’s been quite a while since I was a teenager. But she was such a presence,, and so constant, it has caught me completely off guard to know that she is gone. I heard she had passed yesterday at the end of the work day, and found myself sitting in my office in suburbia, as far as a person can be from the shores of a lake in Maine – perhaps as far as I’ve ever been from the person who grow up on those shores – crying my eyes out.

So. I’m sad.  Something that is so important to me has changed, and I’m sadfor that, and I’m sad for how long its been since I’ve really connected with that place and that person. Thank you, June Gray, for taking me in as an awkward pre-teen kid, and making me always feel that I was absolutely perfect, just as I was. Thank you for giving me a place where it was completely normal to sing our hearts out after breakfast, hold hands while watching a sunset, and run around like a damned fool. Perhaps the best way I can describe what you built for us is to share that just yesterday I caught up with an old camp friend, and we found ourselves excitedly talking about sending our future daughters up to Wawenock, giving them the gift of the home you gave us.

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