Posts Tagged With: travel

I Took Time Out

Where do I begin? Where did I leave off? So much to say there’s too much to say. Let’s try nutshells, shall we?

Running: January saw 24.25 miles. I’m okay with that number because I was insane at the end of 2016, running practically every single freaking day. January was my rest month. February was a little better: 40.6 miles, thanks to the St. Pat’s nemesis I always blather about. March kicked off with 13.7 miles in the first week. I have skipped a few runs to…wait for it…to weight lift with a certified bodybuilder trainer. I figure if I’m going to punch someone I need to be strong enough to knock them out! Just kidding. I called truce with the nemesis, by the way. I have yet to walk a single step…and, and. And! I find myself with a new PR: 1 hr 4 seconds. The cool thing is, I didn’t “race” this run. I spent the first four miles cruising, just looking for my friend. Once I found him and decided he wasn’t staying with me, I took off. It kills me that I spent only two miles of the run trying to race!
Next up: a NEW 10k for April. This one is a head scratcher. The race director emailed the runners and asked us to decide on the course: did we want to run laps (um. no) or go long. I voted long. Of course.

Books: I read 10 books in January, 9 in February & I’ve finished 7 already this month. That’s what I get for reading Truman Capote, Adimchinma Ibe, David Halberstam, Barbara Gowdy, Marianne Leone, and Laura Esquivel’s incredibly short books.

Music: I have already heard Trey Anastasio. On the horizon I have plans to see Natalie Merchant (of course), The Dead (of course), Phish (of course) and Sean Rowe (of course) before the summer is over.
Truth be told, the summer hasn’t even begun so who knows who will be added to the list.

Travel: Maine, California, Alaska, New York. Not necessarily in that order. More on that later.

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Save Your Spot

“We noticed that you signed up for the Terrapin with a race pace that will allow you to be placed in a Preferred Corral. Nice!”

This was the email I got for the Terrapin 5k in Chicago. Later that same day I sent them the results from the Worcester 6k in the hopes of getting a timed corral, if only to not have to weave my way in and around slower runners from the back. Then came along another reason – the time of the race. I could have sworn start time was 6pm. Now I see it’s 6:30pm. That gives me less than 90 minutes to run the race, get something to eat (I’m always ravenous), get back to the hotel, shower, change, and make my way over to the House of Blues for Moe (doors – 8pm). Not impossible but less than ideal, for sure. Lucky for kisa, I don’t primp. Much.

Speaking of kisa, the Knight and moi spent some time saving other Chicago spots as well. Reminiscent of a 3rd grade school trip I took to Boston we mapped out the entire itinerary (minus my mother’s notes on what I would be wearing each day). This became an exercise in where to eat around the city. Kisa, armed with the city map, would tell me what friend-suggested restaurants were local to the activity we had planned and I would dutifully note them in a three-ringed binder. The thought process is we won’t be stuck hungry and not knowing what’s in the area, resort to eating at the first bad place we find. Yes, I know we could Yelp our way through meals but that’s really not my thing. I want friend-endorsed options not determined by strangers on my phone. I won’t give in to the hype of a celebrity restaurant (unless it’s Rick Bayless).

I can’t believe Chicago is less than a week away. Last night as we listened to the Dead in San Francisco I couldn’t help but think about all those happy people, just letting the music take them on a trip. And would my journey take me there as well? If so, save me a spot.

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Holophrase: Run.

Today my holophrase is run because last night that’s exactly what I did. Nothing special. Certainly nothing spectacular. 2.35 miles in 25 min. It started off ridiculously slow – like a 12 minute mile. That’s how worried I was about the ankle and the knee and the hip and the psyche. Fear had not settled in but I could tell it was circling to make a visit. I willed it not to stay. For there is something poisonous about pain. Honestly though, if I want to push me & myself any further we need to move through it. Welcome it. Dare I say, embrace it? I just don’t want to collapse in an utterly defeated mess, my courage spilled all over the floor and I had just come off a 60 mile, three day walk. So. I started slowly. Every five minutes I upped the speed and had a small conversation with each potentially offending body part. No one was crying except my brain. Crying out to go faster. I found the groove at 10 minute miles and stayed there until the short(!) 25 minutes were up. I promised the Kisa I would start slow. I promised myself progressive. I stayed true to both of us. When my husband got home the very first thing he asked about was the run. I knew he wanted a pain report from me, myself and moi. Like a brat I gave him numbers, “Two thirty five in twenty five.” He smiled knowing what I didn’t say spoke volumes. The run and I were going to be okay. Later I confessed I lost a little mojo. I can’t run with my eyes closed.

The menu for tomorrow: Somehow I need to fit in 25 minutes of a run. I have no idea how that is going to work because Kisa and I are giving my sister a car. I’m definitely skipping the appetizer (strength training) and dessert (yoga) because we need to drive said vehicle to her three hours away; and on a an island, I might add. In addition we are planning to watch our nephews play in a baseball game (they’re on the same team – how cool is that?). The topper is we’re not staying overnight which means another three hour drive home. The big question is can I make this work?

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Crash Course in Chicago

In about a month the Kisa and I will be heading for Chicago…my first time. Like a virgin I am trying to school myself on all things Chi-town before the big event. I’ve looked at this adventure from every angle. Here’s what I know – we only have a week so I have to plan carefully. I am strategizing like a general, coordinating my offense and planning my attack. I want to be a tourist. Completely and utterly without shame. Food, running, culture and music. Not necessarily in that order.

Food: I am big on breakfast. Love, love, love all things brunch. I’m an adventurous eater and crave all things spicy. I already know I want a scone from the Lovely Bakery, anything at all from Salted Caramel, the craziest burger I can find and. And! And of course, a pizza from anywhere (preferably wood fired). Even though beer is not technically something you eat, finding a craft beer brewery is also a must (preferably one that makes a mean smoked porter). My plan is to get a street map of Chicago, determine where we will be each day and find the best? places to eat within walking distance of that address. So, that means 1) the hotel on S. Michigan, 2) Wrigley field, and 3) Soldier Field.

Running: I already know I want to run on the indoor track at my hotel, just to say I did it. It’s a given I will find a way to run along the waterfront even if it’s a mere mile. But, other than that I’m really not sure. According to my training schedule I will only need to find somewhere to run twice: three miles Thursday and six miles Sunday. Piece of cake. Of course I’ll have PT, yoga and strength training to figure out as well but I’m not really worried about that. The gym is supposed to be killer.

Culture: Chicago is known for art. That much I know. I’ve been told I need to find “the bean” and there’s a paperweight exhibit I just have to check out. The millies are supposed to be incredible. We’re going to a baseball game Friday night (Sox vs Marlins). I’d like to see some historical architecture. A rose garden. A wall of graffiti. Maybe take in the aquarium since fish have always been my thing. Other than that, je ne sais pas.

I think music is the only thing we are definite on. The Dead, Moe, more Dead, a little Sunday jazz, and more Dead. In addition I’m hoping we’ll catch a few street performers (like how we stumbled on Pressing Strings in Baltimore). There won’t be time for much else.

In the meantime this student of Chicago is going to watch movies filmed in the city. Maybe one or two of them will spark some ideas. First up: Drinking Buddies, High Fidelity, and the Lake House. Will I learn anything? I am really beyond skeptical… Stay tuned.

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Checked and Rechecked

This last week has been full of lists needing checks: Wage a war on cat hair in prep for mom’s visit. Check. Well, considering that included dusting, vacuuming, washing, scrubbing, more vacuuming and laundry it’s more like check, check, check, check, check and check. Then there was mapping the trip to Red Bank. Check. Collecting the mother from the island. Check. Collecting the sister from Peaks. Check. Hotel. Check. Funeral wear. Check. Kisa’s tie. Check. Work. Check. Payroll. Check. Cats fed. Check. All of this left little time for any kind of running except running around going slightly crazy.
As far as the real run report is concerned, looking back I logged 7.31 on the last day of March (which brought March’s total to almost 76 miles) and I squeezed in a 2.81 miler this Thursday right before our trek to Jersey. Blah. I was fully prepared to run at the Molly sometime after the funeral; the gym did look pretty nice, but a late night of porters and stouts and pizza with cousins then the sister’s plea for an early morning departure left little time for any tread. Realistically, I didn’t have anything in the tank anyway. Mourning of any kind saps my energy.
So. So, now it’s time for a recheck. The Toronto half is exactly a month away…Well, it is if the month is a February in a leap year. I need to refocus my efforts on yoga, PT and strength training because after the last 7.31 I have to admit…I was a little achy. The right knee was squawking loud enough for me to take note and worry…just a little.
Tomorrow being Easter doesn’t mean much except an opportunity to get together with more family. My only obligation is a diabolic cranberry sauce with serrano and chipotle. My schedule is supposed to be eight miles but I’m thinking I should push it to at least ten since Thursday was supposed to be seven and it ended up being under three and Friday was supposed to be five and it ended up being my butt in a car all day. Somehow 2.81 isn’t a good substitute for a planned 13. Repeat after me – ugh.
The exciting news is I might be able to log 8-10 in my old ‘hood. Back where the running began and I trained for TnT’s half marathon. I think if I run ten miles on my old stomping grounds I might break down and cry. My longest run was eight the last time I lived there. I would love to run strong over that exact spot where my knee gave out; where I crumpled to the ground in a confused and distressed heap. I would love to leap over the ghost of fear and crush that pain once and for all.

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Biggest Balls of Them All

I know what you’re thinking. Strange title for the last day on Maui. Hang tight. I’ll get to it. Or them.

I had two choices for my final blog about Hawaii: write about the (exhausting) trip home OR write about getting a Maui tattoo. Both happened in one day. Hmmm. Tough choice. Writing about getting a tattoo at a shop on Prison Street (seriously) seemed too good to pass up.

Thanks to a previous consultation Kisa and I knew (for the most part) where our tattoos were going and what they would look like. I still toyed with the idea of putting something on my foot since my feet take a beating every year on the Just ‘Cause walk. At the last minute, thanks to Kisa’s urging, I decided my hip is more troublesome than my feet. After a few minor design adjustments I was under the needle.

I am not the tattoo fiend an artist would like to see. Before meeting Kisa, I admit, I had virgin skin and I considered any marking on my body a private affair. However, when I lost my calico Chessie my grief was profound. Her death shattered my heart. Kisa convinced me a tattoo would help heal. I didn’t get the connection but it turns out he was right. I poured my grief into the design. I poured my love into the placement. Getting a tattoo of a cat sleeping on my hip was an intensely personal endeavor. It was something for me, myself and moi and no one else. The pain of the needle drew out the hurt in my heart.

Maui was different. Pride and remembrance went before sentiment and sorrow. Doing it for the sake of doing it trumped practicality. It even trumped privacy. I wanted to commemorate my commitment to Just ‘Cause and the fight to end breast cancer. My symbol for Just ‘Cause is the dragonfly. It’s on every tshirt I walk in. I didn’t want a design that screamed for attention but I wanted something that combined the pride of Just ‘Cause and the memory of Hawaii in one design. Hence the dragonfly and plumeria. Front and center. I decided it should be somewhat shown. I’m not a diva. That’s not what I’m about. There is some privacy. It’s personal and it’s perfect.

Guardians of the hip

Where are the balls you ask? In the next room. While I was getting the tattoo treatment a la Leilani Kisa was getting his pain from someone named Robbie Big Balls. You may recognize the name from a book blog on the other side. Since my tat took Leilani all of 45 minutes from start to finish (she probably could have done it with her eyes closed) I had time to hang out with the big balled boys. Kisa’s tattoo is perfect for what he wanted to convey.

Flying home with our pain made for a long flight, but at least I wasn’t thinking about geese or heart attacks and other airplane malfunctions!

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Where Are You Now?

It has been an incredibly stressful week, from start to finish. A week ago Tuesday I flew to Colorado and while I love that state with a passion you know me and flying…we just don’t get along. So first element of stress – flying. Second “stresser” – meeting new people. Third stresser – seeing family and confronting grief head on. My fourth stresser was something I didn’t anticipate but I’ll get to that later.

The flight was, for the most part, fine. I think I drove Kisa crazy wanting to talk about September 11th the entire time. An odd choice of topic for someone as nerved up about planes as I am, but I can’t explain my mind. I practically started and finished a book on the same flight (Tear Down the Mountain by Roger Alan Skipper). I sat next to a girl who kept her nose in a book the entire time, too. Funny thing was, I noticed her in the terminal and was dying to know what she was reading. All I got was it was by Nicholas Sparks. Figures. On the second leg of the flight I noticed a guy in the terminal reading while standing up. Every once in a while he would chuckle to himself. Odd. Guess what? I sat next to him from Charlotte to Denver. He was reading Homer. The Odyssey. Go figure.

Anyway, meeting new people. Best Man West’s new girl. Turns out I had nothing to worry about. In the end I was actually more social and comfortable in my own skin than she was. Who knew?

I’m saving the family/grief part for another time. I still need to process that part. I also need to deal with the new stress I encountered on the trip. The purpose of this quick and dirty is to let everyone know I am alive and well. I wasn’t home but I am now. xoxox

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Only For You

I packed your bag tonight. I tried to think of anything and everything you would ever need. Leave nothing to be desired is what the voice in my head begged. No want. Never. Kisa loaded the car under the cover of darkness. No need to advertise your Ford Escape.

But, back to the bag. I tried to think of all your senses and cover them with kindness.

  • Touch – your travel companion of black and purple while Skidz is in the Sunshine state. It’s nice to have someone to hold on to. Squeeze him hard if need be.
  • Taste – protein bars with lots of nuts and fruit; gum and breath mints
  • Hear – Music, music and more music. Mumford and Sons, Adel, the Brothers, ZZ Ward to name a few. Oh and as always, Natalie. I remembered an audio book you said you liked: The Calligrapher’s Daughter by Eugenia Kim. It’s long winded so it should keep you busy until Dallas.
  • See – because you are such the book snob, a paperback in real, honest-to-goodness print: Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. Try not to cry in public, but if you do I packed tissues…discreetly.
  • Smell – green tea and roses (enough said). You have makeup, spritzer for the face and dry shampoo along with lotion and lavender.
  • Think – crossword puzzles and more crossword puzzles of the not so typical kind. You also have Free cell on your phone, your favorite. But, you knew that.
  • Care – letter writing materials complete with paper, pens, envelopes and addresses and stamps
  • Reflection – two travel journals and a datebook. What could you possible say when nothing has happened yet?
  • Art – a camera. Try not to take pictures of men sleeping with their mouths wide open.
  • Communication – your ever present phone should you need to call for help.
  • Recklessness – nip bottles of pineapple vodka and pills; just what the doctor ordered.

I think I thought of you and yourself.

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the Failure

This is the part two, the end to the story of the fury. It comes as failure.

Our trip down the mountain started early enough to be late at night. Still dark. The ride to Sacramento was punctured by off hand quips and comments from back seat to front. A sentence here and a reply there. The sunrise was slow and graceful. I could almost forget where we were going and enjoy the ride.
Before long, an hour later, the airport loomed into view and fear sat on my shoulder once again. I felt its weight but could no longer recognize its face. Was I not as terrified this time around? I asked myself and moi. No. No, we were not. True, mom was not with me. If the plane went down my sister would not be an orphan. I wasn’t asking Kisa about the sleeping habits of geese, the movements of terrorists, or the unhealthy habits of our pilots. I seemed to be oddly calm, oddly enough. Even the full body scan didn’t reveal fear in me. I was fine.

I was fine until I boarded the plane, that is. On our flight out to CA I was the last person to board. The very last person to buckle in. The last person to comply with the flight attendants and their rules. It would be that way again. Going home I had the very last seat in the very last row in a teeny, tiny, tin can plane. Doesn’t the tail always break off first? I hissed at Kisa. Isn’t this the most dangerous seat on the plane? To make matters worse we.weren’t.sitting.together. I think I scared Mr. Businessman enough so that when Kisa asked, he switched in a heartbeat. Sure, you can sit with the crazy doomsday lady he seemed to say. Sure, sure. Go right ahead.

For the rest of the flight I kept my head down, buried in the crazy I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell book (review coming on the LunaSea side). After the first five hours I really thought I was going to make it without the Fury. I really thought this would be a better flight. I was confident I could stay composed. Until Eve. Chatty, spunky, spiky redheaded Eve. Of course sitting in her jump seat she was right next to Kisa. Of course Ms. Chatterbox just had to strike up a conversation with Mr. Everybody’s Friend. Soon they were swapping stories about how cold Canada is. How crazy California is. Blah, blah, blah. Then she asked why we had been in California. The good times came to a screeching halt as Kisa killed the conversation with, “we were there for a funeral.” Out of the blue Eve starts telling us about losing her son. Car accident. As she dabbed her tear-drowned eyes her aquamarine eyeshadow slid down her cheeks making the perfect picture of pathetic. Kisa couldn’t stop there. He shared that we lost a cousin, same age as her son, as well. Before I knew it we had the entire back row silent and sullen and I’ve said to hell with composure and cried with a new broken heart.

I don’t remember the landing. We took a long time gathering our belongings. As we taxied to the gate I pretended to drop things under my seat, just so I could bend over and hide my eyes from the rest of the travelers. Mr. Businessman waited until I surfaced before leaving long enough say, “sorry for your loss.” Eve hugged me tight as I tried to escape up the aisle. The last person off. I choked on my grief and realized I no longer had Fury. With my composure gone I had failure.

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the Fury

I want to sink my teeth into the fury of how unfair life can be. Bite down hard against anger and angst. In a single beat of a pounding heart I became afraid to fly. Just like that.

For as long as I can remember I have loved flight. Take off and touch down. Soaring above the clouds, looking down. I always wanted the window seat. Counting swimming pools and skimming mountain tops. I always exhilarated in the escape. Flying. I couldn’t get on a plane often enough. Until Wednesday. Four hours before take off I teetered on the edge of terror. This would be my first flight with my mother. In memory at least. I flew as a baby, I’m sure. I mean, we got to and from the Caribbean somehow when I was less than five. But, but! But. this would be my first time flying with mom. If the plane went down we would leave my sister an orphan. Irrational fear #1. From there it all got worse to worst. Do geese fly at night? Irrational fear #2. Our pilot is eating a cheeseburger and looks like he could have a heart attack any second. Irrational fear #3. Which country is mad at the U.S. this year? Irrational fear #4. On and on it went. All the way to the airport. All the way through security. All the way through boarding, buckling in and blah blah blah announcements. I felt like I was losing my mind.

In a way I was. To lose two family members in quick succession, neither of them possessing a life threatening illness. To watch an otherwise secure marriage crack and finally crumble. To have the knowledge that bad things really do happen to good people. I couldn’t help when it would be my turn to fall down. If I was going to fall why not from the sky?

I’d like to think that without my mother on board I am the happy-go-lucky traveler I once was. I’d like to think that I’m just that. Lucky. I’m not sure. In the meantime I will bottle the fury I feel. Gnash my teeth and bite down on the reality that life will never be the same.

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