Wednesday, May 06, 2009

How do they do it in NYC?

I love everything about New York. I've never been there, but that doesn't matter. I'll get there. I love the city, I love the culture, I love the people. I love the idea that when you live in the city it doesn't make sense to have a car. I can envision walking to the market, the park down the street, and taking the dog around the block. It makes so much sense to live close enough to all of your needs - to get everything done in a familiar circuit.

But then I thought about it today . . . I live out of my car, in the figurative sorta way.

My 'trip to the market' requires a weekly menu plan, list-making, coupon clipping, a drive across town to the bargain market, the next town over for my specialty items, and across the bridge to the produce market. Toddler in tow, grocery bags, diaper bag . . .

Then I add a run into my day - which brings up issues of the baby jogger, the rain fly, blankets, dry clothes if I'm grocery shopping, mapping a park route via the grocery trip that has swings and walking space for the jogger-rider.

At this rate, I'll be gone so long, I'll need to pack a snack and water for myself and a lunch for the little guy, and consider time for a diaper change. So, in all of this, my car shuttled my kids to school, carried ten bags of groceries (we eat a lot), transported the jogger and all my gear, became a snack table, and later a changing table and a dressing room (with some clean-up both times).

I run in some amazing places with the little guy napping in his jogger. We did ten rainy miles today on a paved park path along the lakeshore. Evergreens dripping down from way up high, woodpeckers in the trees - and hardly a soul out and about. And we made two grocery stops. And ate in the car. I just don't get how they do all that in New York. I think I'm enamored of it all somehow because it seems so simple. But maybe I'd miss all of my planning and complexity and my adventures.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Fitting in the outdoors

Sunday came and went. I was out the door at sunrise. My favorite run skirts the water of Elliot Bay as it heads 15 miles north. I love the city and how much life goes on within it. All in one run was a whole lifetime of observation. I started out tiptoeing past the sleepers under the bridge. I ran through the industrial area and gawked in awe of the size of the port, the railroad, the freeways, and the metropolitan skyrises looming ahead. The waterfront was a bustle of activity with sidewalks being hosed off, people leaving a shelter to exist somewhere else in the daytime, those dragging luggage for the boat to Canada, and the first cruise ship of the season sailing into port. Then my hill. It may not be the steepest in the city, but starts out as a hefty incline, and continues three miles to the biggest park in the city. And those three miles reward me with sweeping views of the sound, the marina below, the tankers, the islands . . . but really I like looking at where I started out across the bay and how high up I've come from the water below, knowing I ran up that high and that far from home. I can actually see it simultaneously. There are very few people out this early. Not even the gardeners getting started on the lawns of these expertly manicured grand homes in the neighborhood. The park brings me more views - further west and north, rabbits, birds, sandy trails, open fields - then into the woods with tall trees and switchbacks. You can zigzag so fast it becomes a game. I run down down down out of the park to the locks and watch for boats and salmon and heron that live nearby. My last couple of miles are along the bike trail and through the marina full of sails waiting to be taken for a ride. And then the golden park. Golden Gardens really is it's name. Sandy beaches galore. But golden for me, because my husband has arrived. While I've been running . . . he's gotten four kids up and out the door with cocoa, stopped at the bagel shop, and brought me warm clothes and a couple of recovery drinks.

What does one do next in this scenario? My husband took off for his point-to-point run - today that was 12 miles east. The kids and I dug in the sand, watched trains, found statues, found a troll, leapfrogged through town and took the dog for a swim at the dog park on the lake where my husband's run ended. We were all home in good time before lunch.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Spring Break in Seattle

Rainy Seattle isn't really anyone's idea of a spring break location but sometimes in life you just don't get to do the choosing.

My family is all sick except me and the one who is attending three different sleepovers in four days. My marathon training plans were going great. I visualize the event every single day and I get so excited just thinking about it. I even had it all planned out with the kids home all week from school. One day I'd put three on bikes and one in the jogger and go to the locks and ride out a trail to the park. Another day I could do Greenlake and the zoo. I'd get my runs in, the kids would get out, and the little one would get his nap in the jogger. That was all before the sore throats, stuffy noses, headaches, fevers and doctor visits. I didn't even run at all today and my weekly mileage is totally screwed.

Yesterday I reached burnout by late afternoon. My run had never transpired. The cool planned outing with kids never happened. The toddler never got a nap all day. I spent hours grocery shopping at three different stores with sick kids and accomplished nothing more. Nothing tries my patience more than sick kids. Somehow all of a sudden they become so helpless and I feel overstretched and want a break. So much for the satisfaction of being a stay-at-home mom. I made coffee at 4:00, knowing it'd keep me up late, but not caring because I was so tired and cranky. I even decided it was late enough in my day and turned it into a coffee cocktail. Most delicious. I started dinner and chalked it all up to just another day - tomorrow would be different. After my husband arrived home, I calculated how much time I had until he had to leave for a meeting, and thought . . . just maybe . . .

I pulled on some running clothes, grabbed my music and headed out the door. I sorta wondered if that cocktail I had earlier is how crazy runners train for those pub crawls. Sometimes, though, you just have to take the opportunity when you have it. Evening is a weird time of day to run for me - I do the day thing with the baby in the jogger and he does his nap thing. My run was so different it was amazing. I ran hard and fast - it's amazing how different it feels when you aren't pushing a jogger with a baby wearing ten layers of clothes and blankets and the rain fly.

I ran the same place I probably run 3 or 4 days a week, but at twilight nothing seemed the same. There was this one moment where I looked all around me and thought about my camera. It seemed ironic to me that the camera is broken. Almost as if it were a silent message to me to forget the tool and just open my eyes and take a look around and something I might miss.

I could look out across the bay to the city skyline as the lights were just beginning to twinkle. The sky beyond was dark and grey, but the mirrored buildings reflected the last bits of light from the fading day. A waterfront restaurant was all aglow in colorful holidayish lights that made it look like a magical wonderland. A couple of eagles flew overhead and I watched one soar up to the nest high in the trees. While I was looking up, I almost tripped over the geese scurrying across the path trying to stay out of my way. I stopped and noticed the babies. Finally. The baby geese - goslings if you prefer. To me, that and the sweet cherry blossoms signal spring around here. The winter has been unseasonably cold and wet, and today at the beginning of April it was snowing - like a sick April Fool's joke. But there were the tiniest of geese all huddled together hustling around with mom and dad. It doesn't last long. The smallness, the fragility, the clinginess. It's all a necessary part of an amazing process. It made me re-evaluate my little ones and not so little ones at home feeling needy. Some days are hard, but they're worth it.

I love my family. I love running. And I love when winter is over.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Passion for Writing

I opened my blog and discovered with shock the last date in November. And the pics of Jackson are from a lifetime ago - now he runs around and climbs up the shelves. The truth is, I think about writing every day. I want to be a writer. I think I am a writer. How can that be when I'm not writing? Facebook drives me crazy because every time I post something I feel the need to explain myself and write a long description - but that defeats the whole purpose of Facebook.

So I'm asking myself how I am a writer if I'm not writing. I want to publish something. I've had countless people tell me throughout time that I am a skilled writer. Someone even said once that I missed my calling as a writer. Missed it? I'm not old. You're never too old for anything. I think my mind lives and breathes writing. I'm a little rusty - in fact I'm just spitting stuff out right now as it pops in and out of my head and it's really disorganized. I hate that. I think that prevents me from writing. I have a little obsessiveness and feel the need for it to be perfect from the start. I want it clean and pretty. I want my words to flow with wisdom and affect the reader in ways I can't begin to imagine.

Throughout my day I think as if I'm writing. I think of titles and topics and subcategories and who my audience is or can be. I consider the introductions and the chapters and funny tales and the time I'll spend writing. And then for some reason, I don't write. Like I said, I think it's a perfectionism thing. I feel like I have to have a plan and a publisher and the topic and the done deal before I start. People tell me, "no, no - you just need to write . . and write and write - it'll happen for you." Sorta the 'if you build it, they will come' theory. So this is my giving in. I'm writing and it's not perfect and it drives me nuts. It's like the free writes I learned in 8th grade when we had a time limit and kept our pencils constantly on the paper or we had to fill the page.

I'm not sure if I want to write about running and my latest marathon training or what my plans are for dinner this week or my adventures with my kids in the rain. I think it's wrapped up in all of that somewhere, but that's all I can figure for now. It'll have to evolve when I'm ready - tomorrow or next year. It'll figure out it's topics and it's readers. It'll develop it's own voice and place in this crazy cyber world. It'll seek out it's dreams of columns or articles in some published format. It'll find friends and groups and lectures. But for now, the writing just is.