Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Lazy blogger

I have been a very lazy blogger lately. Maybe a non-existent blogger, you could say. But that's because I've been very busy. But this morning, I got an email that reminded me of my blog, of the importance of keeping up with my writing, and of how much I really do love running, and writing about it. So I'm going to make a concerted effort to keep up with this. But in the meantime, I thought I'd fill you in on what I've been doing with myself when not blogging:

Last weekend was our engagement party. It was a clambake-themed party at a beautiful lakefront property in Arlington. From what I hear, everyone had a good time. I certainly did! Even Nietzsche dressed for the occassion, wearing a blue polo shirt with little red lobsters embriodered on the back: (picture coming). Evan also did his share to make my face bright red by serenading me in front of all our guests on the karaoke machine. He sang "Lets Stay Together." It was quite a scene: (picture coming). But all in all, I think the best time we had was stuffing our faces with the delicious lobster that Woodman's provided. (picture coming) Yum!

Evan and I have also been doing a lot of traveling. Since my last post about the camping trip, we spent a weekend in Chatham on the Cape, which was just glorious. We brought our bicycles and biked A LOT, which was a nice balance to all the delicious Candy Manor fudge we indulged in.

And speaking of biking, I have been doing a lot more of that than running lately, mostly out of necessity. My bike gets me to work, and to French class in Cambridge, and many other places. But I decided to test the endurance powers of biking versus running a few weeks ago, and found that I can still run a solid 3 miles in under 30 minutes just from the bike training. That's pretty sweet. Maybe I should try training for a triathalon. We'll see.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Super Hiker Dog

The first time we came across a stream that required hopping from rock to rock, we picked up Nietzsche and carried him across. He came along for the hike, but we knew our highly opinionated dog prefers not to get wet, so we “portaged” him across.

But that didn’t last long.

By about the fourth or fifth such brook we crossed (a very wet hike), Nietzsche was fording his “river” by himself. We laughed when we saw his skinny white legs submerged in mud nearly up to his stomach, but he just shook himself off on the other side, happy to be on solid ground again. We jokingly asked him if he liked his swim, but he just cocked his head, silently saying “Can we proceed, please?” He never gave us the ultimatum on the bank, running in the opposite direction before unwillingly being carried across. No, he was enjoying it. And by the time we hiked back to the car the next day, he was voluntarily splashing in and out of the water, not even attempting to keep himself dry by rock-hopping.

Nietzsche is a trooper, that’s for sure. And he makes hiking and camping more fun, I’ve decided. When you don’t have TV or radio or anything other than trees and the long path ahead, you can quickly run out of things to talk about, especially five hours into the woods. The ennui of the forest sets in fast. But when you’re with a 12-pound puppy standing barely a foot off the ground, watching him navigate what must have seemed as strange as Mars to his suburb-dog upbringing, the entertainment never ends.

Sure, he slept like a baby the entire drive home, and is likely happy to be resting his tired muscles and bug bites all week long in a quiet, dry, and empty apartment. But Nietzsche doesn’t regret being included on our camping trip. Because, just like humans, dogs like to stretch their legs and breath in the fresh mountain air, too.

Next time, I think he’ll carry his own backpack with food and water, maybe.

Anyway, here's some pictures from our backpacking trip into the Pemigewassett Wildnerness in NH. Enjoy!

Nietzsche was Evan's "right hand man" when it came to navigating the fork in the trail, and even though they butted heads a few times, we found our way out of the woods.

Puppy and me like to spend lots of Q-T together

Especially when Evan is sleeping

But when there's food around - forget it!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Dead Running

What better way to motivate people to run 4.2 miles than to choreograph the race to laid-back, fun-loving tunes? I guess that’s the idea behind the 2006 Jerry Garcia Memorial Run in Cambridge on July 27, which will soon become Evan’s and my longest road race yet, literally going the “extra mile” beyond the manageable yet typical 5K.

It’s going to take a little more training to ensure that the race will be more fun than grueling, but hey, I’m up to it. Because I know that when I pass the two-mile mark and my lungs start to ache with that all-too-familiar burn and tightness, that the tunes of the Grateful Dead will be just what I need to keep those feet tapping along the pavement. And in that final mile, when my mind will inevitable scream “the 5K is over!”, the sea of tie-dye’s bright colors on the backs of my fellow racers will wake me up and push me to that finish line. Not to mention the promise of the after-race barbeque. Food always motivates me.

It’s going to be a great time, for the music, the atmosphere, and the fun times. And I’m looking forward to it not only for the achievement of completing a 4.2 mile road race, but for the good times that I’m sure we’ll have that night. The organizers of this race have it right: Make it fun and tempting, and people will stretch themselves farther to participate.

They’ve already got me salivating over the Brie Burger race in August, after all. Now that sounds like a good time.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Boston, you're my home

Leaning against the railing above Memorial Drive last night, staring up at the Boston fireworks, my face radiating glee and delight, it struck me: This is a fantastic city. I love Boston.

How could I not? Where else could I live far enough away from the hustle and bustle to let my dog jump out of the car and stroll the street without a leash if my hands are full of bags and groceries, yet still be close enough to reach work, play, Downtown and Harvard Square within 15 minutes on my bike? Where else can I be part of a crowd of half a million people stretching a half mile on both sides of the Charles River and yet still run into five friends within one 500-meter stretch? Boston is like a city and a town in one, I’ve decided.

It’s going to be tough to leave, if I ever do. I know I’ll miss the mix of city, suburbs and mountains and the one-of-a-kind blur they make as they all come together. I’ll miss being able to spend one hour kayaking up and down the river and the next feasting at one of Cambridge’s delicious and unique restaurants. And I’ll miss the close proximity to New England’s most beautiful places, with an ease of escape you don’t find in many big cities.

But for now, forget about all that missing. I’m not going anywhere yet. Not for a while. As I watched the fireworks spray their colored lights across the sky to the tune of Aerosmith and the Boston Pops last night, I was sure of one thing: Boston may not be the end of the road for me, but for now, it’s home.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The dollhouse

Author's Note: The following piece was written for a creative writing class I am taking this summer. The instructor asked us to write about libraries. And this was the first thing that came to my mind. I think it's pretty cool, and if you grew up in Ridgewood or ever went to the Ridgewood library, you'll probably know what I'm talking about. And by the way, the picture is not of me. Enjoy!

It was the dollhouse she liked the best, tucked in the back corner of the children’s room, always in the same spot regardless of how the library shelves shifted around it. She had to stand on a stool to look inside it, but it was worth it, every time.

The yellow striped wallpaper and the green couches in the family room reminded her of grandma’s house, of warmth and coziness and plush rugs that tickled your toes if you ran across them barefoot.

And in the kitchen, there it was, that Thanksgiving turkey, tiny yet just as glistening and plump as the one she watched Dad carve each year, also perched up on a stool, waiting to someday be tall enough.

And as she traced her fingers up the miniature stairs, carpeted in pink, she thought about the family that lived there, how happy they must be, how truly content in their home.

Books could carry her to other places, she knew, and she loved them for it. She would spend a lifetime devouring stories for that reason alone, and even at five, she was sure that a love of reading was in her future. But before she selected her book, she always had to visit the dollhouse. It was the best part of the library. And when she looked inside it, her little nose pressed against the glass, it was like traveling to the greatest dreamland ever.

Inside that dollhouse lay a place far more accessible than the faraway lands of fiction. And for that, it was the best part of the library.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Smooth sailing?

The smell of fried dough bubbling out of the bakery, the morning sun glinting off the water, the crisp, clean air in your lungs - being on a bicycle means just being there in a way that you can't from a car. And the exercise and fresh air both have a surprisingly similar effect as a caffeine fix. Plus there's the ability to fly through red lights and cross streets with just a little more ease than the creeping along, waiting for your moment, infuriating frustration of sitting behind the wheel. And you still get to work at the same time, maybe earlier. So why not ride your bike everyday, everywhere?

This was my logic about a month ago – before I actually started to ride my bike everywhere. Since the weather finally broke about five weeks ago, I’ve glided to work, class, the store and even Sunday brunch on two wheels rather than four. And while it’s been great for my sanity and my thighs, it’s also admittedly not been the easiest undertaking.

Today I rode home in the pouring rain, for example. Imagine jumping in a giant, dirty Boston pothole puddle, feet first – now picture me riding home from work this afternoon. I might as well have swam home in the humidity-blasting thunderstorm-slash-deluge. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that my moccasins manage to bounce back from the drenching.

Even on those smiley days that the sun is out and the ride is breezy and you feel like you’re in a Disney movie, though, bike riding is no feat for the weak of heart. Note to all drivers: If you hug the curb at the intersection, then a bike can’t get by. Share the road. Please. And look before you open your car door on a city street. My hands may be quick with the brakes, but my legs are quicker, and by bike is moving pretty fast. Can’t stop on a dime. You’re the one in the car, after all. You’re going to get there before me, anyway. What’s the rush for?

It may save a little bit of gas money and may be more fun to glide down three straight miles of hills than to snake up six stories of a parking garage, but it’s still a commute. And I know I’m lucky to be in the minority of people who actually can ride their bikes most places they want to go, including work. I appreciate that, believe me. But I’ve just got to keep reminding myself of two things: wear a helmet, and keep a raincoat in the backpack at all times. Because on a bike, you just don’t know.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Happy Summer!

The beads of sweat forming out of nowhere on my forehead as I amble along the hot pavement each carry a miniature picture of a hot and sticky day of the past, a little scene of somewhere else, someone else, another feeling, another time. Summer days never come alone.

The relief of a cold shower at the end of a long day and the crisp crunch of fresh vegetables with dinner each represent little snapshots of another kind of refreshment on another day, a jump in the waterfall, maybe, or a jaunt through the sprinkler. Because summer days never come alone.

Sitting in traffic, alternating the AC with the windows, trying to save a buck while regretting the added bonus of leather seats, my mind strays to other times, an afternoon spent in the woods, embracing the shade and all its coolness, craving the eternity that never was to be. For summer days never come alone.

Nights when the sun sets empty handed, trailing none of the day’s heat home with it, I am taken right back there, sitting around a ringed campfire in the dark and hanging heat, or lounging on the grass, swatting at bugs, waiting for the fireworks to start. And I remember that summer days never come alone.

It is a fixed definition, a straight line that never wavers, a set of associations that will stay forever. It is summer, and it is here. And it never comes alone.

How could I feel the burning of the sand beneath the soles of my feet without the thought of scurrying across the pool parking lot barefoot, jumping from painted line to painted line, aiming for Mom’s car and the ride home? I can’t, because summer never comes alone.

No, I can’t taste the sweet crunch of watermelon in my mouth and the rush of its cool pinkness without the all too present yet all too faraway scene of a seed-spitting contest, right there, in the forefront of my mind. No, there is no way to separate it. Summer never comes alone.

Every tick of the thermometer is a glimpse of the past and every adventure into nature is a venture also into my mind, where a little memory is attached to each and every feeling. They’re the best associations, and they’ll never go away. They're like little snippets of paper that you hold tight in your pocket. They’ll just grow greater, adding more and more as the years go on.

Because summer never comes alone.