November, 2011

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Seattle Half-Marathon: ch-check

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

On Sunday, I ran the Seattle Half-Marathon, and man alive, was it fun.

(I just really think that “man alive” should be brought back as an exclamation – “man alive,” and “hot damn.”)

Back in September, I had the thought, “I want to train for something.”  So I went online, looking for a race that would be in a city that I wanted to travel to, and a course that I would like to run.  I realized that Seattle had a race on the Sunday after Thanksgiving; I did the math, and figured out that it was 12 weeks away, to the day.

Serendipity (not the movie) – I started training that night.

The 12 weeks flew by, and before I knew it, I was standing in a crowd of 11,000 people before the sun came up on Sunday morning.  I didn’t train with anyone, and I didn’t run with anyone – I just showed up, jumped into the sea of runners, stared at the people around me, and then ran across the starting line and didn’t stop for 13.1 miles.

I know that I’ve written about running before – how it’s not something that I’ve historically loved, how it’s not something that comes all that naturally, how the fact that I currently consider it one of my hobbies is utterly flabbergasting to me.

But there I was, by my own volition, running my third half-marathon.

For the first 10 miles, I ran a 9-minute mile pace.  For a girl who never runs faster than 10-minute miles, I don’t know where that extra jolt came from – all I can think is that training at Mile High and then dropping to sea level is the way to go.  The last 3 miles were a bit slower, but in the end, I cut 6 minutes off of my previous best time, finishing in 2:03:13.

As I ran, I was struck with how much FUN I was having.  I was just so happy –  traveling through my favorite city on earth, my body cooperating better than I could have hoped, carrying me up hills and around turns and past the man with the hairy back and the woman with the long, whipping, Texas polygamist compound braid.  I watched the people cheering on the sidelines, laughing at some of the signs (i.e. “Worst parade ever”).  I saw my mom and our friend Lisa three times along the course; they win the prize for the best navigation of Seattle streets.  At one point, I swear, I think I saw Vili Fualaau.

I ran uphill, against the wind and the rain.  I thought about the last several years, and how hard they’ve been, and how good they’ve been, and how the road has been uphill and against the wind and the rain – but man alive, this place is beautiful, and hot damn, I’m still breathing.

The land for which I’m meant

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

For being a self-proclaimed control freak, there are a lot of things about my life that I did not plan, that I could not have planned.

I’ve experienced:
unachieved goals
unanswered prayers
unfulfilled dreams
mistakes
defeats
derailments
dead ends

I’m sure I’m no different from anyone reading this when I say that I have not always gotten what I wanted.

But I’ve also experienced:
surprises
provisions
little graces
big graces
friendships
victories
adventures

I don’t understand it.  I can’t see the pattern or the grand design, and I have no idea where this life will lead – is leading.  Half the time, I am bumbling around in the darkness, just praying that I don’t stumble off a cliff and splatter at the bottom of the canyon like an egg.

But even in the midst of the confusion, I can recognize that there are things to be thankful for.

  • I am so thankful that somehow – somehow – I live in Denver, Colorado.
  • I am so thankful that my family is, for all of our brokenness, made up of the people who are in it.
  • I am so thankful that I have a body that works, that will run me 13.1 miles in Seattle on Sunday.
  • I am so thankful that I work for an amazing company in a job that provides me with enough (more than enough, come on) income.
  • I am so thankful for car insurance and that the fact that my car was stolen means that I am lucky enough to own a vehicle at all.
  • I am so thankful for the friendships that have carried me, encouraged me, and sustained me.
  • I am so thankful I did not marry any of the men I thought that maybe I could have married.
  • I am so thankful for my cities – Seattle, Nashville, and Denver – and that all three are equally “home.”
  • I am so thankful that my plans are not The Plan.

I am so thankful for the twists and turns, the things I could not have predicted, the “no”s when I wanted “yes”s, the tears when I wanted joy, the loneliness when I wanted companionship, all of which have propelled me further down the tracks through the land for which I’m meant.

And I’m thankful for you, known and unknown readers, my companions on this written journey.  I wish I could bake each of you a pie.

Happy Thanksgiving.  May our hearts overflow with gratitude even for the things that we don’t understand.

Subaruined

Monday, November 21st, 2011

On Friday, I dropped my phone and shattered the screen, rendering it useless.

Irony is contacting the police to tell them that if they in fact find my stolen vehicle, please don’t call me – call my sister instead.

And then I asked, “By the way, any news?” And they said, “No.”

On Friday night, I sat in the living room, listening to feral cats fighting outside the front door. What else was there to do? I couldn’t drive anywhere, and I couldn’t call anyone. This must be what a 50s housewife felt like, when her husband would take the car to work in the city and she would be left stranded at home with no outside contact, speaking only to her mute household companions. Hers were babies. Mine are dogs.

On Saturday morning, I went for a terrible run. My brain felt spiky and sore. Down every street, I searched for my missing car. I quit after 6 1/2 miles, when I was planning on running 10.

Later that afternoon, I got the news (via my sister, who has laryngitis, which makes all of this that much more hilariously complicated) that my car had been recovered, that it was not drivable, and that it had been towed to an impound lot.

So Becca and I drove to the barren wasteland that is the Denver Impound Facility, and claimed poor, vandalized, un-drivable Subaruthless. The inside of the car is completely trashed – the ignition punched out, wires ripped, the dash hammered to sharp little plastic bits. There are no license plates. The car now sits at a body shop, ready for surgery.

But there is a silver lining. Along with everything else in the glove box, guess what’s missing? $100 worth of unpaid parking tickets. I’m not paying anything I can’t find.*

In the meantime, I am still phoneless. All of you boys who are texting me because you want to marry me? I’m not getting those messages. Consider alternate methods of communication, such as pigeon carrier, smoke signal, or a St. Bernard with a note in a tube around its neck.

*Yes, I know.  This could totally backfire on me.

No stranger to this

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

I thought that having the Honda stolen twice was more than my fair share, but apparently not.

I WILL say that I’m laughing pretty hard about this, though.  I mean, come on.

“Loved Louisiana”

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Ugh, don’t you love songs about regret? It’s the worst kind of feeling, and the best kind of song – the twist of the knife, the sailed ship, the too little too late.

Right now, I’m in a season in which I’m thinking about the big picture – the whole of a life – the decisions we make today that could change the course of everything else. It’s a lot of pressure and weight – and I don’t like it, because I don’t trust myself to not royally screw everything up.

Ultimately, it pushes me to realize that I’m not in control (and thank God).

But my subconscious is still ruminating on the truth that our decisions have consequences – for better or for worse. And my creative endeavors – the elements of my personal life woven into sometimes fictional stories – are somewhat reflecting this.

Back in September, I was driving from Seattle to Denver. Somewhere near Bozeman, driving 80mph, I just kind of ran over this song. A chorus tumbled out quickly, and the rest of the drive was spent singing words and phrases and piecing them together like a jigsaw puzzle.

When I arrived in Denver, “Loved Louisiana” was finished.

As always, it feels scary to share. But I hope you like it.

[I’ve taken the track down for now. Maybe you’ll hear it again someday.]

Recorded with Calvin Locklear in Palmer Lake, Colorado.

Dog days

Monday, November 7th, 2011

Yesterday, we had a bit of a canine emergency when Greebs the dog ate an entire plate of peanut butter & chocolate brownies, and we had to take him to the animal ER to have them induce vomiting and coat his stomach in charcoal.

Did you know that I haven’t thrown up since I was 14 years old?  Over half a lifetime ago.  I am terrified that it’s going to happen again someday.

For someone who has always been a stickler about having a clean car, the backseat of the Subaru has been coated in dog fur since June.  I would attempt to do something about this, but it would be like pushing a boulder up a mountain only to watch it roll back down.  The long-haired, muddy, vomit-induced dogs are in my car every single day.

The most unexciting thing to spend money on (besides bras and paper towels) (and also Sonicare toothbrush heads) would be a dog barrier for my Forester.  But if it would afford me a clean backseat?  It might be worth it.

Anyway, here’s yesterday’s protagonist on the way back from the vet, full of morphine.

If yesterday’s dog emergency is any indication, this weekend did not go as planned, for all sorts of reasons.  I am someone who tends to measure my value by how much I accomplish (and yes, I know that this will get me nowhere – nowhere except SUCCESSFUL).  But I had a list of things that I wanted to get done, all of which remained unaccomplished.

That’s not entirely true.  I ran 11 miles on Saturday morning.

But that is ALL THAT I DID.

I didn’t take the pile of stuff to Goodwill.
I didn’t list the items on Craigslist.
I didn’t vacuum.
I didn’t respond to the emails and phone calls.
I didn’t return the sweater to Target.
I didn’t buy thumbtacks.
I didn’t do laundry.
I didn’t walk in the sunshine.

But the dogs aren’t dead.

So… woman of the year.

Ending well

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

When I wrote this, I thought I was writing just for me. But today, I kind of want to share it.

:::::

For some time now, I have been in… a relationship? Perhaps not the right word.

Something special. Something that burned fast and bright, like a bottle rocket — but after a short time, burned right out and fell from the sky. Something that, like so many beautiful things, was fleeting.

While the ending of it was sad, our parting conversation was honest, warmhearted, and generous — to an eavesdropper with no context, we may have seemed enamored. We expressed care and respect for one another, demanding nothing in return, gracefully letting each other go.

I have never experienced such a healthy goodbye with a man.

We successfully cared for, and received care from, each other. We successfully opened our hearts and dropped our defenses. We successfully took a risk. And in the end, for legitimate reasons, we successfully walked away, shoulders back and selves intact.

For me, this is a victory. Just because it hurt did not mean that I was losing — the hurt actually meant that I WON. It meant that I had allowed someone in — something that I find difficult to do.

I experienced a relationship ending well — and it’s one of the most radical things I have ever done.

:::::

There are few things in life as wonderful as a good man.

Take heart. They do exist.

Running uphill

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Well, well. It seems that yesterday’s post was the blog heard ’round the world – that was the most visits I’ve gotten since December 1, 2010.

In the event that you’re new here, welcome. I’m Annie, the curator of this here little web log, and I live in Denver, where the weather is currently 27 degrees and snowing. I’ve been told that for having a desk job, I lead a pretty exciting life – and a lot of the time, I have to agree, although it’s probably worth arguing that I just like to make a big deal out of the dull. I’m hungry all the time. I order the clothes in my closet according to ROY G. BIV. I’m working really hard toward becoming debt free. I don’t own a single pair of leggings.

Here’s a little glimpse into my present reality.

I’m less than a month away from the Seattle Half-Marathon, and my training has been going super well. I’m excited to run this course through my favorite city (if you’re familiar with Seattle, check it out – such a fun and scenic route). I know that there are a lot of hills, and I’ve been figuring out how to run hills more efficiently. My über-runner friend Mark Miller always says that when running uphill, one should keep the same effort level, but not necessarily the same pace – which is relevant to my life right now.

I’m heading uphill, and trying just as hard – but just going a little bit slower.

Several months back, I found myself at rock bottom in the ditch of all ditches – down with the muskrats and the snakes and the creepy crawlers – with no clear and easy way out. I’m slowly but surely working my way upward, but realizing that a lot of damage has been done. Movement doesn’t come as easily as it once did. I’m finding that it’s helpful to slow down, to not push myself too hard, to strip away distractions, and to focus on one step at a time.

It’s not flashy, and it’s not exciting, and it’s quiet and tough and sometimes painful work that can only be done on my own, under the strength of my own two legs. But it’s leading me higher.

Thanks for being here, friends.

An open letter to Kim Kardashian

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Dear Kim,

This note must come as a surprise to you seeing as how you’ve never even heard of me – that is, unless you saw me on the cover of Disc Makers.  That’s right, Kim: I, like you, am a bona fide cover girl.  We are on the same level.  Recognize.

But even if you don’t pay attention to who I am, don’t worry, Kim.  The feeling is about to get very, very mutual.

Your rise to fame through sex tapes, reality television, and Playboy led you straight into a role as a genuine socialite – which basically means that you’re out and about being famous because you’re out and about being famous because you’re out and about being famous.  Oh sure, you have a perfume, and a fashion line, and a sunless tanner, and a really, really horrible song – your name is your brand, and you work it, Kim.  You work it like your “Fit In Your Jeans By Friday” workout series.

But none of this is why I’m writing to you today.  It’s not your fault that you are beautiful, ergo rich and famous.  People shouldn’t hate you because you have a hot ass, no matter how much you flaunt it – and it’s certainly not a crime to have money.

No, Kim. I’m here to talk about yesterday’s announcement that after 72 days of marriage, you are filing for divorce.

Your August 20th wedding to Kris Humphries was all the gossipy rage – the E! network even did a 4-hour special on the literally made-for-TV, $10 million affair.  That very price tag seems to be a slap in the face to your alleged support of movements such as the “Kiss Away Poverty” campaign, but I digress.  As if the dollar amount on the wedding wasn’t outrageous enough, you and Humphries reportedly earned – profited – an additional $18 million simply to engage in the white gown event.

And then, 72 days later, you ended it.  It’s despicable.

You make a mockery of marriage – something that I, for one, would very much like to experience, but for one reason or another has eluded me thus far.  You cheapen what I hope for, and frankly, it’s insulting.  Myself aside, I know so many people who are currently fighting tooth and nail to stay IN their marriages – because their promises meant something, and because they see their relationship as something more important, more essentially vital, than a mere opportunity for self-promotion.

I hope that I do get married someday, Kim.  I hope that I have the privilege of having a daughter.  And if I do, I can assure you that I will do absolutely everything in my power to teach her that people like you are not the ones to be admired and idolized, no matter how beautiful, no matter how powerful, no matter how wealthy you may be.

Instead, I will point her toward the true hero women:

Lacey, who just returned from spending a month in Haiti, caring for people with so much less than what we have

Greta, who on a teacher’s salary, devotes so much of her time – both work hours and personal hours – to planning, grading, and investing in her student’s lives

Christy, who through her work with Dave Ramsey, passionately educates young people about the importance of making wise financial decisions and avoiding debt

Emily, who has opened her heart and her home to an ever-shifting cast of foster children, devoting her time, energy, and finances to providing these kids with stability and love

Carin, who is channeling her grief over losing her precious son by starting the Ben Towne Foundation, and raising over $1 million in the past year to fight pediatric cancer

Ashley, who welcomed baby Zion as her own, and is raising the most amazing boys

I know women living with devastating medical diagnoses, and fertility concerns, and bone-crushing loneliness, and not enough money, and the death of big dreams – all with grace and aplomb.  These are the heroes.  These are the women that you and I should aspire to be.

You will carry on with your media circus, and probably continue to gain money, fame, and Twitter followers.  But you have a huge privilege, Kim – something that not everyone has – and that’s a platform.  Please use it for something more substantial than your own selfish gain.

Until then, I’m no longer paying attention.

Salutations,
Annie