Caledonia, part II

A couple weekends ago, six friends met in Vail to celebrate the upcoming birth of M’s baby. We used to live near one another in Carbondale, a small mountain town on Colorado’s Western Slope, but jobs and relationships and other plans carried three of us elsewhere. When we all lived in Carbondale, one of us was married and, initially, no one had kids. Now there are two kids (one of them in utero), four marriages, different jobs, new homes. There have been deaths and births and fights and reconciliation. There have been phases (short, dark hair) and trends (skinny jeans) and altered perspectives. There has been - as there will be - lots of change.

I didn’t realize, until this weekend, how much I’ve forgotten about Carbondale. It was a lonely place for me; I felt terribly awkward most of the time. Sitting in that condo in Vail, listening to the gossip and stories about the people and places in that town caused blocked-out memories to flood at a staggering rate. As my friends, one by one, washed their faces and brushed their teeth and went to bed, I grew increasingly uneasy, agitated. All of a sudden it was 3 am and I was astonishingly awake, entrenched in memories I’d worked hard to bury.

Looking back, I see that I made it harder than it really was. I isolated myself; I assumed people wouldn’t accept me so I didn’t give them a chance. I still do that, but now that I live in a bigger town, it’s not so out loud and obvious. Hiding in Salt Lake doesn’t mean cowering in my room, hoping that no one will drive by and see the light on and knock on the door. It means spending time in a different part of town, going to a different cafĂ© for my americanos, being alone but in the middle of things. It’s still fucked up, but it’s easier to pretend otherwise.

One of my friends mentioned maybe being ready to leave Carbondale. She’s been in that town for years and the whole community would suffer her loss. When asked where she’d go, she named a tiny town in an even more remote location. Just the thought of moving to a town that small had me hyperventilating. It was then that I realized that I love living in a city (technically, I guess, I live in the suburbs, but it’s really, really close to downtown, despite what my husband will tell you). I love that I can choose to see people or not, that I can go for days being totally unknown and anonymous. It makes for better people watching and observing, which I need like I need water and air.

But at what cost? Because all that observing is actually starting to hurt me, I think. A few nights ago, sitting with Brad at the base of a climb I’m working on, I started crying because I felt like everyone I knew would have just climbed the route and moved on, while I was freaking out about it. I was comparing myself to these imagined others whom I’d built up to be larger than life, infallible, far more capable than I. And the truth is, I don’t know that for sure. It’s just something I’ve trained myself to believe, even though I know, somewhere in me, that it’s not true.

After climbing, Brad and I played Boggle with his parents. I stared at the letters as the white Hasbro sand fell through the plastic hourglass, feeling certain that I’d identified every word in the grid.

“Canoe,” announced my mother-in-law, pointing at each letter.

What? Canoe? I’d listed can, cane and one, but I hadn’t seen canoe.

“Batter,” she went on, and though I’d seen bat, tab, brat and bra, I’d missed batter.

The night went on in that vein. The sand ran out and I’d drop my pen, confident that, this time, I’d identified every word. And then Brad and his folks would list word after word that I’d completely overlooked.

Even though I’m wildly competitive when it comes to word games, the night didn’t frustrate me; I just thought it was interesting. How could four people, looking at the exact same letters, see such different words?

And then it hit me like a canoe to the head:

We see what we can.

When I lived in Carbondale, I saw myself as an excluded, awkward oaf, because that’s what I thought I needed to do to protect myself from potential shunning. My friends don't get that, though, and still ask me when I'm going to move back. To them it's Caledonia. To me it's a nightmare. At the base of the climb the other night, I thought about the people I know who say, "Oh, yeah, that's a great route," because they see it as it is, rather than what I've built it up to be.

I’ll never go back to Carbondale – it was just too hard a time for me. I’ll climb that route, though. As soon as I realize that other people have to work at things, too. As soon as I can see that I’m not the only one who struggles from time to time.

I think my Caledonia is a place where I am able to accept my shortcomings so entirely that it won’t knock me over me if other people point them out. Because, as my mom always said, I am pretty hard on myself, and most people – most people – never notice the faults I spend so much time trying to hide.


Sew Hot Right Now

I've been inspired by Cindy and Lisagh and all the other craft-capable ladies in blogland, so I dusted off my sewing machine and have been unfolding and re-folding fabric and unrolling and re-rolling ribbon and looking around helplessly wondering, "where do I start?"

So I'm asking you: where do you go for pattern inspiration? I've looked on the world wide web, and there are some sites that seem pretty helpful, but where do you go for patterns, inspiration, ideas, etc.?


Especially the Mango...

According to delightfully silly yet neatly-coiffed pundit Stephen Colbert, fruit is un-American. I couldn't agree more.

The patriotic tendencies of fruit came under fire when it was revealed that it had recently replaced cookies as the number one snack in America (for kiddos under 6).

As part of his diatribe on fruit and its lack of patriotism, Stephen singled out Cookie Monster for contributing to the cookie’s decline in popularity. Check it out:

There are three famous men whom I admire: Mark Doty, David Sedaris and Stephen Colbert. Oh, well, and Billy Collins makes four. Because Stephen went head to furry blue head Cookie Monster and refused to buy into the newly passed fruit-agenda, he’s currently on top of my list.


Oh the hilarity.

Thursday's Thirteen*

13 Things I Love Today:

1. This picture. Oh, how I love that picture.

2. Attus Apparel. I like this shirt best.

3. Saying "the" before an illness or disease (even though there's nothing funny about illness or
disease), as in, "the gout." It always makes me laugh.

4. Jack Donaghy, because he says things like, "Your hair is your headsuit" and, "Never go with a hippie to a second location."

5. The swimming I get to do with my dogs every single day. Big Cottonwood Creek flows into a reservoir near my house, so every evening after work, the boys and I head over there to chase tennis balls, frisbees, rocks, sticks and, once, an unfortunate duck. (Nothing bad happened to Mister Duck. Arnie just swam around behind him for the better part of 20 minutes. The duck was pissed; he kept looking at Arnie and saying, "QUACK!" And Arnie would just look back to shore like he was saying to me, like, "What is this guy so upset about?") And my favorite part, after swimming, while the boys dry on the patio, their fur goes all punk rock.

Arnie Ramone:
And Red Viscous:
6. My new pilates instructor, who looks exactly like Amy Sedaris. Except less sprinkley.
7. My recently purchased vintage Lilly one-shouldered dress. I can't wait to wear it next week.

8. This book. The most beautiful thing ever ever, and we all have the lovely Erin to thank for telling us about it.

9. How I can go to Barnes & Noble and root through all their magazines for all the titles and contact information I need without anyone bothering me.

10. The ruby throated hummingbird at our feeder right now.

11. This site, which informed me that said hummingbird is probably not a ruby throated. Maybe a bumblebee hummingbird?

12. My Shasta Daisies, which are finally starting to bloom. They make me think of Mount Shasta and the Lemurians, who are probably just looking for pot.

13. It's definitely quilt weather tonight.

*The original name of this post was Thursday's Thirty, but that was too intimidating.


New blog over there on the left....

Hey, readers,

I'd like to call your attention to the new blog over there on the left: Chicks With Kicks. It's a group running blog stared by a couple of my old friends from Boulder. They kindly invited me to contribute, so occasionally, when I'm friends with Running and not letting Running rule my life, I'll jot some thoughts on that site.

The other contributors, Erin and Jess, are two of the kindest women I've ever had the pleasure to know, and I can't tell you how happy I am to be back in touch with them.

Those of you who are into working out will probably love this new blog, as it offers hilarious tales of sports bra woes, getting back on the horse after a hiatus, short shorts and more.



Meme me....

I was tagged by the darling Jen over at Use Real Butter. I'm delighted, because I just love to talk about myself (at least I'm being honest), just like Helen Walsh, my favorite heroine of my favorite British chick lit (by this lady, who looks a little like my mom).

Anyway, onto the meme.

1) What were you doing ten years ago?
I was at Penn State, studying English and Women Studies and, when I wasn't in class, learning to rock climb at the Bellefonte Quarry.

2) What are five non-work things on my to-do list for today?
Family cuddle on the bed with Red and Arnie and Brad (this happens everyday).
Help Brad get out the door and on the road.
Hike up to Tick Fever and figure out the gear and crux.
Go to Nia.
Cal my parents (this happens almost everday).

3) What snacks do you enjoy?
Graham crackers
Trader Joe's flatbread crackers
chocolate chip cookies
cherry pomegranate Nectar bars

4) What would you do if you were a billionaire?
Give lots away to my loved ones
Put lots into smart investments
Get a phd in modern poetics
Travel with Brad and the boys and our families and friends for the rest of our lives

5) Where have you lived?
Delmont, Pennsylvania
Stockholm, Sweden
State College, Pennsylvania
Boulder, Colorado
Carbondale, Colorado
(and now, Salt Lake City, Utah)

6) What jobs have you had?
Retail employee (at Old Navy, Exkursion and Neptunes)
Event coordinator at the Access Fund
Account manager at Backbone Media
Copywriter at Richter7 and Riester
PR and Marketing specialist for MVM

And I am tagging…

Have a great night!


The Kind of Friends You'd Go Out in Your PJs For.

This post could just as easily be titled, "The Kind of Friends You'd Whack a Man Over the Head with a Bouquet For." You see, I just went to see the "Sex and the City" movie, which I loved, I loved, I loved. It has me thinking about my girlfriends, my relationship and my style. Three of my favorite topics.

On that note, here are my three favorite parts of the movie (I'll try to be vague, so as not to ruin any plot surprises for those of you who haven't seen it):
1. When Carrie goes out, in her PJs, on New Year's Eve...
2. The Fashion Show in Carrie's closet...
3. When Charlotte bops Big with the bouquet.

It was really, really good; you should see it.

What I like about Sex and the City is that it accurately depicts the very best - and hardest - parts of female friendships. It offers realness - its dialogue and friendships - while allowing for some fantasy - its clothes, clubs, and city glam.

Anyway, Brad woke up with a swollen, hot, fluidy kneecap, and after a trip to the doc to get it drained and request a prescription, we decided to take a sick day. We watched a movie ("In God's Hands," Ed. It was on tv, and we thought of you and your lost dvd the whole time. Because, really, who the hell would steal it? I mean, it's just not that good, man!) and snuggled on the couch. It was a delightful and sleepy day, punctuated by a trip to the lake for a swim with the dogs and a trip to the full-priced movie theater (rare for us - we're fans of the dollar theater in our 'hood) to see Sex and the City.

I was all sappy and happy, thinking about my dear girlfriends today. In less than a week, we'll all convene in Vail to celebrate the pending arrival of Davis Baby 1, Megan and Ward's little bundle of joy. I can't wait to see my girls, to catch up with Megan on the drive from Boulder to Vail (it's actually faster for me to fly to Denver and drive to Vail than it is to drive from Salt Lake to Vail, and with the gas prices, well, yeah, I'd rather fly), to hike and laugh and eat and drink and talk about the "impending ball of flesh," as Mavis calls it. (And Mavis is better with kids than anyone I know. Seriously, she's like crack to babies; they love her.)

And the "Girls With Child" Weekend will be even more fun thanks to the delightful treats I received from Kerry, my summer swap partner. Kerry strikes me as an incredibly capable and "on it" woman, and her big box of presents did nothing to dissuade that notion. Everything seemed very tailored and chosen according to my likes, and it was presented beautifully.

Thank you, Kerry, you very kind and thoughtful blog-friend!

The package, overflowing with goodies:
The letter "S," a "little black book of smoothies. Mmmm....
The letter "U," umbrellas for summer drinks....
The letter "M," a madras tissue holder from the Preppy Petunia. Well done, Kerry; way to support other bloggers!
The other letter"M," margarita rim salt and spices....again, mmmmm.....
The letter "E," monogrammed note cards (with little cocktails on them) from the English Tea Paperie, owned and operated from another blogger. Well done, Kerry!
And last but not least, the letter "R," representing, in this case, Sophie Kinsella's newest book, Remember Me. I'm on the list for this book at my local library and at last count, I was number, oh, 537 in line. So, Kerry, thank you for giving me the chance to read this book in this decade...
Kerry, you're the best.

I'm delighted.

Thank you, and happy summer.


I apologize for how poorly written the last post was. I wrote "Arnie Love Bob" while battling the onset of a head cold that morphed from "just a scratchy throat" to "good god I think I have pneumonia" in approximately 20 minutes. Between the violent coughing fits and the cold meds that made me feel like I was underwater, I wasn't writing at my best.

Sure, I could rewrite it, gussy it up, make it mo betta, but I'm not going to. Sorry. I'm having enough trouble writing this post, which I've started five times and deleted four. I'm still kind of sick, and I haven't had much time to write in the past week.

I mentioned in the last post that we went to Steamboat for the race last weekend. As we rolled into town, we were temporarily mesmerized by the successive stream of uber-fit people that only Colorado mountain towns can produce. I'm serious - they would be the state's biggest export, except they never leave.

On Sunday morning, at the start of the marathon, I swayed nervously and counted Nike Tempo Track Shorts (I think every woman in the race was wearing them - including me). I was thinking that I should have bought new running shoes - mine were totally kicked. I was thinking that I should have trained more, that I might throw up. Normal stuff.

Except...it wasn't.

There was a time when I wouldn't have been nervous, when I wouldn't have doubted my training or my ability to dominate the race. There was a time when I set the pace for everything from neighborhood 5ks to half-marathons, but the trade-off was balance, and I guess I'm not willing to - or can't - forgo that anymore.

So, when I registered for the marathon, I wasn't thinking about goals or accomplishments or fitness - I'm already plenty fit. I was thinking about skinny, and about how skinny eclipsed pretty or nice or athletic or funny or kind. Skinny was the trump card, as it were, and if you played it, your other flaws were ignored.

And it was that that's how I found myself - once again unprepared - waiting for the gun at the Steamboat Marathon. Actually, I wouldn't say I was "unprepared." I put my time in this time; I did my long runs and almost always met my weekly mileage goals.

But it really wasn't good for me. It hurt. It was boring. It took up too much of my time. I didn't really want to be doing it, I just wanted to be the kind of person who would want to be doing it.

From 1997-1999, at 2:00 pm on Tuesdays, I went to my therapist's office and talked about that kind of person. When I first started going, I was anorexic. I'd sip what was likely my fourth diet root beer of the day and congratulate myself on weighing less than 98 pounds, while my therapist asked me questions like, "How skinny is too skinny?"

And in the early days, when I was running 100 miles a week on less than 1000 calories a day, I'd glare at the granny smith apples she kept in a basket on her desk and think, "There's no such thing." And last Sunday, standing, terrified, at the starting line, I realized that I still feel that way.

So when the gun fired, I started running, knowing even then that I wasn't there for the right reasons, and knowing that I'd never get through the whole thing (back to that "balance" issue). By the second mile marker I felt tired, and by mile five I was nearly in tears. It wasn't that I was physically spent, I just didn't have the mental fortitude to finish the thing. I made myself a deal: Run half of it, then you can stop. At 13.1 miles, you can stop running, crawl into the van and go home. And most importantly, you never have to do this again.

So that's happened.

And for the most part, I don't feel bad about it. I can say - with certainty - that I listened to my body and did what felt right. I knew I'd have some regrets, but honestly, I don't have many.

Really, I just don't care all that much.

I'm tired of feeling guilty for not running enough. I'm tired of feeling bad about myself for not being fast enough. I'm tired of comparing myself to other people; I'm tired of not measuring up.

It's been one week since I've laced up my running shoes, and I feel absolutely awesome. Yesterday, I climbed a route that I've been working on for over 5 months. Then I got on a project and did all the moves (not linked, but still...it didn't feel impossible).

I think I'll give running a rest for a while. Last week I went to several Nia, Zumba and pilates classes at my local rec center. I feel great, and I can't get over it. I didn't run a single step, and despite what I've been telling myself for years, I don't think I gained any weight (I actually feel leaner). I don't know that for sure, though, because there's no way in hell I can ever own a scale.

And even now, almost a decade after those Tuesday afternoon sessions, I still hate granny smith apples.


Arnie Love Bob.

I owe you a post about the marathon-that-wasn't (more on that in a bit), but in the meantime, I have to tell you that Arnie has fallen in love. With Bob the Cat.

When we went to Steamboat this weekend, we stayed with our good friends, Bill and Lisa. Of Big Agnes and Honey Stinger fame. In addition to their three wonderful black labs, Bill and Lisa have two cats, Hot Cakes and Bob. Bob has kitty cancer, so he's losing his fur and has painful-looking wounds on his little kitty face. I like to think that Arnie knew that, because while he ignored the dogs and other cat, he sat next to Bob for the better part of an hour. He didn't try to touch Bob, or talk to (bark at) him. He just sat there, caring. And not making eye contact. Not even once.

While this was going on, Brad, Bill, Lisa, the three labs, the other cat and I were all inside at the kitchen window, watching as this "compassion-through-proximity" unfolded on the porch.

Bob didn't appear to mind. In fact, he mostly ignored Arnie, preferring to stare into the middle distance and lick his paws. And for his part, Arnie didn't seem to expect anything from Bob. Arnie was content to position his snoot three inches from Bob's face and just be. A modern day Siddhartha, he is.

But even Siddhartha got antsy (some may dispute this, and to them I say: even the Buddha gets numb-butt from sitting too long), and after 45 minutes of nearness, Arnie decided to pet Bob. That's when we intervened.

Undeterred, Arnie continued to assert his nearness. Bob really didn't seem bothered.
I was a little nervous at this point, when Bob crawled onto a low shelf, and Arnie, unable to fit, just stuck his head in. Still, Bob didn't swipe at Arnie or even appear to notice his presence. Eventually, I picked Bob up, because I didn't want him to be nervous by the big yellow guy in his face, and also (mostly) because I wanted to TOTE THE KITTY!

Here are a few more images of the big golden healer (not to be confused with Heeler) at work: