Life Goal Complete : Finish Big Sur Marathon

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Something like ten years ago I heard about this race and I thought to myself,  If I ever run a marathon it would be Big Sur…

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Here I am crossing the Bixby Canyon Bridge. I can’t easily explain how much this means to me.

I guess I could tell you how I trained erratically around injuries for nearly 3 years to finally complete this goal.  Or that when I crossed the finish line I began to sob hysterically, that having my loved ones at the finish with hand painted signs was the best thing about the whole race or that I told myself from miles 21-26,  I will never do this again. But none of this will sum up the full experience. It was hard, it was beautiful, but it’s also a self-imposed torture reserved for those privileged enough to afford to do such things. But I digress.

Immediately following the race I was disappointed with my time. Now I see it for what it is. I’m proud of myself for finishing, proud of my body for continuing on when I thought I had nothing left. I’m super happy that I finished injury free.

Now I’m getting psyched about running it again next year. Crazy? Hell yes.

There is a lot more I could say about this race. I hiked 7 miles two days before the race (stupid) I ate baby octopus the night before (bad idea) that I wore new shoes (terrible idea) and that I didn’t quite fuel enough (newbie error) but in all I was just so pumped to be running.

Running is now a part of who I am instead of just something I do once in a while and that’s pretty cool.

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The Goldfinch

also known as one of the most beautiful books I have ever read.

 

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I now have quite a long commute. To make it more enjoyable I signed up for an audible.com account (which is just okay so far) so I can listen to audio books that I download instead of fumbling with swapping out CDs (which got annoying). I did music, NPR, and podcasts for a while and still supplement with them but the commute is very long and it’s depressing when you go through two 45 minute podcasts just going one direction. I heard a whisper about this book when reading the NYT book review a few months ago and it sounded intriguing but far too long for me to attempt to read while I was dealing with work, school, running, moving, etc.  Then this commute happened and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to indulge in books I would never otherwise find the time to read. Again I would like to mention here that I’m not very good at reading new authors. I rely on friends recommendations or classics when I’m out of books so I decided to start checking out the NYT book review to widen my prospects. Which is really nice and working very well for me. Like online dating but only for books, or maybe exactly what my online dating would be, me reading books and not at all dating.

 

I had not heard of Donna Tartt before reading that review but now I want to read all of her books, and reading up more about her is interesting as well. The Goldfinch is long, like 700+ pages long, but completely worth it. I love the book so much that I just ordered it in tangible hardcover because I want to reread it again but this time with my eyes. I will admit though that the voices in the audiobook are fantastic. I absolutely love how the voices are done by David Pittu, especially Hobie and Boris. I can’t really describe the plot easily without revealing too much but it’s part mystery, part bildungsroman, part poetry,  all weaving in and out of such a  vivid and clear view of New York that it made me nostalgic for the east coast. Also it won the Pulitzer which made me really happy and proud almost as if it’s my book.

 

Here is a quote from the novel that I just can’t get out of my mind.

“I look at the blanked-out faces of the other passengers–hoisting their briefcases, their backpacks, shuffling to disembark–and I think of what Hobie said: beauty alters the grain of reality. And I keep thinking too of the more conventional wisdom: namely, that the pursuit of pure beauty is a trap, a fast track to bitterness and sorrow, that beauty has to be wedded to something more meaningful.

Only what is that thing? Why am I made the way I am? Why do I care about all the wrong things, and nothing at all for the right ones? Or, to tip it another way: how can I see so clearly that everything I love or care about is illusion, and yet–for me, anyway–all that’s worth living for lies in that charm?

A great sorrow, and one that I am only beginning to understand: we don’t get to choose our own hearts. We can’t make ourselves want what’s good for us or what’s good for other people. We don’t get to choose the people we are.

Because–isn’t it drilled into us constantly, from childhood on, an unquestioned platitude in the culture–? From William Blake to Lady Gaga, from Rousseau to Rumi to Tosca to Mister Rogers, it’s a curiously uniform message, accepted from high to low: when in doubt, what to do? How do we know what’s right for us? Every shrink, every career counselor, every Disney princess knows the answer: “Be yourself.” “Follow your heart.”

Only here’s what I really, really want someone to explain to me. What if one happens to be possessed of a heart that can’t be trusted–? What if the heart, for its own unfathomable reasons, leads one willfully and in a cloud of unspeakable radiance away from health, domesticity, civic responsibility and strong social connections and all the blandly-held common virtues and instead straight toward a beautiful flare of ruin, self-immolation, disaster?…If your deepest self is singing and coaxing you straight toward the bonfire, is it better to turn away? Stop your ears with wax? Ignore all the perverse glory your heart is screaming at you? Set yourself on the course that will lead you dutifully towards the norm, reasonable hours and regular medical check-ups, stable relationships and steady career advancement the New York Times and brunch on Sunday, all with the promise of being somehow a better person? Or…is it better to throw yourself head first and laughing into the holy rage calling your name?” 
― Donna TarttThe Goldfinch

And it’s completely true. I can’t change what I want even if I know it is hollowing out my soul with every breath. I want it and that is irrevocable. When I was young and naive and probably really annoying I used to write poetry, mostly bad poetry, under the pen name Elle Veut. It’s French for she wants,  and even after all this time  it’s still true. Possibly now more than ever. I want all of these things that don’t fit, their shapes are ragged and undefined. They don’t make sense and definitely don’t make my life any easier. But  I can’t help it, even when I know that wanting it will completely destroy another part of me I can’t stop. And this is really the first book that ever loudly and clearly vocalized that unalterable truth.

So go read it and then we can talk about the things we want and how they will destroy us.

Correlations between data networks and human relationships

Digital analogy for analog life:

Many circuit-switched networks give priority to existing circuit connections at the expense of new circuit requests. After a circuit is established, even if no communication is occurring between the persons on either end of the call, the circuit remains connected and resources used until one of the parties disconnects the call. Because there are only so many circuits that can be created, it is possible to get a message that all circuits  are busy and a call cannot be placed.

I’m taking a CCNA course. It’s a good cert and will grant me more freedom career wise,  but goddamn if I don’t procrastinate on the coursework.  Anyway, I read this line in the first chapter of the course and it just struck me as being true in real life as well.  It’s true in love and in life. You can’t accomplish that novel or find true love if you are preoccupied in an established circuit that is not serving you.

So just cut the connection.

 

 

9th Poemonday

dive for dreams

or a slogan may topple you

(trees are their roots

and wind is wind)

trust your heart

though the seas catch fire

(and live by love

though the stars walk backward)

honour the past

but welcome the future

(and dance your death

away at this wedding)

never mind a world

with its villains or heroes

(for god likes girls

and tomorrow and the earth)

e.e. cummings

 

 

***

It seems like it’s been too long between these posts. Time is falling, moving and blending with our memories faster than we can comprehend. I’m mutating, growing, and learning to curb my appetites and self-loathing.

but here is a lovely poem for you, quite close to my heart and very good for this time of reaping and replanting.

What does this new year hold for you?

I hope to be present and mindful of time, to express myself when I would rather remain quiet. These are big small things.

A whole update to come on this new year and what I hope to accomplish, but until then my dears, dive for dreams!

They are closer than you think.

 

Better Living Through Chemistry

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This is what I gazed at tonight while I rinsed and washed my glassware during chemistry lab. The water slithers out the end of a neoprene tube, so the washing is done slowly and methodically. In fact most things in this class are performed this way

These are not traits I naturally have. I am always running late, oftentimes tired, catching up on sleep, homework or time. Each step of the experiment requires time and patience and attention to detail. I must wait for chemical changes to occur, water to boil, precipitates to cool. I need to weigh things accurately and often. I need to closely observe the reactants and products and record their descriptions. In short, I must be a better version of myself and I really like it.

I’ve discovered that I don’t know how to relax very well. Without a task to do, I am anxious and unfocused. This makes me excellent at multitasking and complex problem solving but always at the risk of burn-out.  I’ve surrounded myself with people and processes that enable me to relax without feeling the urge to complete some nagging task. I’m still learning to quiet my mind but I think I’m getting much better at it.

It’s quite liberating.

Home

It’s been awhile.

Next week marks an entire revolution around sun since I uprooted my life to Texas. That still feels strange to say.

I moved often as a kid and I always thought I would keep that fluidity for the rest of my life. I was able to quickly adapt and after a while in one spot I would feel a hunger for bare walls and a new place to explore. Yet with this move, I’m not so sure anymore. I am growing Entish, and I feel the lack of roots more strongly now than I ever have.

Don’t get me wrong, I do love Texas and I’m very happy I came. I just didn’t expect to miss Baltimore so much. I didn’t realize the immensity of its role in my life.  So cheers to you Lone Star state and thanks for becoming my home. Happy anniversary.

This past year I have done many wonderful things, and I’m realizing that life is so much easier than I previously knew.

I mostly take pictures of clouds. I know that sounds odd but people, the clouds in Texas are awe inspiring.

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See? I told you I was distracted. These are the clouds I see on my regular commute or fun long drives that keep me enthralled with this place. Forget the humidity, the superhighways and continuous strip-mall existence. Get out of the “city” and this is the Texas you will find.

The weather finally feels like fall. It has been raining for 24 hours straight and the incessant sheets of water have absorbed the world. I hear the gentle dripping against my windows and the muffled sound of tires slurring through the streets. I am happily ensconced inside in my sweater and stocking feet, even though it’s probably 70 outside.

I am studying for my chemistry exam. Well really I am finishing up my homework for chemistry and thereby studying.

And thereby drifting off into recipe indices and blogs.

I have been trying to learn to buy less everything and especially food. So after a weekend in Austin I came back to a fairly empty kitchen. I had a sad slightly butchered head of purple cabbage and I did this to it. AND IT WAS DELICIOUS, so you should probably try that soon, okay?