NaBloPoMo Day 4…

is apparently about trying not to think about the election. I’m generally averting my eyes from television and newspapers, though I can’t quite bring myself to not look at facebook or twitter occasionally. I’ve been listening to Tina Dico’s album “Count to Ten” this morning. That helps. And I finally dug out from under the piles in around my workspace and put the label maker to good use with a stack of empty manila folders. My desk is in a corner of the kitchen near a sunny window. This is mostly a good thing, except that it is also near the laundry room and much-used back door, which means the temptation to drop things off in the vicinity is a little too-tempting for the third-grader I live with. At least my husband has become careful about logging me back into facebook when he’s done hijacking my computer.

My plan for today is to figure out what will be cooking and nourishing our bodies and spirits in this house this week. I am usually not very successful at planning meals ahead, but it’s going to be a busy week and I for one would like to not inflict any unnecessary stress on myself.

And if you haven’t voted yet, just do it. I don’t care who you vote for (not entirely true of course – I do have a preference) but I do care that we all show up and take responsibility for ourselves and our country. I have always believed that in the end, people show up and try to do what they think is best for everyone. I want to keep believing that. So VOTE!

Random thoughts on a Saturday – Day 3

Yikes, it’s only November 3 and I’ve already got that “yeah, I’ve got nothing” feeling about what to write about. I’m also often a little drifty on the weekends, torn between missing the weekday routine and the flow that creates and liking just winging it.

I just got The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook a couple of days ago. It’s a lovely lovely book, just what you would expect. I made the rushed pizza dough last night, instead of my usual, and it was delicious. Great texture, crackly from being baked on the stone that lives in my oven. I am looking forward cooking from this book in the coming weeks!

Deb actually gave a peek at one of the recipes in the book a few weeks ago – the pancetta, white bean and chard pot pies. They were delicious too – definitely recommend.

Obviously, I am in a cooking mood. I am also keenly aware that Thanksgiving is less than 3 weeks away. Which means Christmas isn’t very far away. Every year, I think I want to be more “plan-ful” about the holidays so that I can feel like we really were able to enjoy them. I find the holidays to be at their best when there is enough quiet to really experience them, not a lot of frantic running around. So I think I want to have a plan, and get some things done ahead of time, and know what I want to happen so I don’t forget. It’s wishful thinking – I usually get to the point where I decide on what I can’t live without and let the rest go. That’s actually not a bad plan. But I’m sure I’ll put holiday plans on my to-do list for the next few weeks, dutifully moving it to tomorrow’s list most of the time. Mostly I just want to wake up on Wednesday morning and have the election be over.

To run or not to run.

Imagine that you’ve been training all summer into the fall for your first marathon. Maybe you became a runner to run a marathon. This is the hardest physical thing you’ve ever tried to do and you are both exhilarated and terrified that the day is nearly here. And now you have an unforeseen challenge – the conditions the race will be run in are, to say the least, not good. And now you have to decide what to do.

Of course I am talking about the New York City Marathon, which is apparently taking place as scheduled this Sunday. Despite the fact that so many people on Staten Island and in lower Manhattan are suffering and struggling to recover. There is no comparison, but I’m also sympathetic to the runners and the dilemma they face. And so I’ve been thinking also about my first marathon experience in Chicago in 2007. I was not a runner. Before training for a marathon, I would have told you I hated running. But I was interested in the process of training and suddenly, the idea of finishing a marathon and being in the best shape of my life in the year of my 40th birthday was very motivating. So I’d done it, slogging my way through longer and longer training runs.

As race day approached, the weather forecast was not looking good. And the emails from race organizers kept warning everyone about the heat and proper preparation. There was no plan to change anything about the race though. The start time remained 8 am. And the weather forecast kept getting hotter.

On race day, some 40,000+ runners lined up at the start. It was an incredible place to be for a first-timer. Inspiring, exciting, nerve-wracking. We shuffled our way to the start and were finally off. It was so hot and so humid. But everyone’s spirits were high and the crowds were out cheering and everything seemed fine. And then we reached the first water station and hit the first stroke of bad luck of the day. There was no water and no gatorade at the first aid station. The system was breaking down very early it seemed, since I was running in the section of the crowd shooting for under 5 hour finish times. There were thousands of people behind us.

Things went downhill from there. I never saw gatorade on the course, though I did find water along the way at aid stations and from the amazing residents along the route who were out with coolers of ice and bottles of water. As I approached mile 16, the word was spreading that the race was cancelled. Suddenly, there were police barricades blocking off the course and rerouting everyone back to Grant Park. It was chaos.

I went on to finish my first marathon a few months later in Phoenix. And I returned to Chicago last month to finish my second. It was a wonderful experience to complete the full course and to run into Grant Park and cross the finish line for real.

So what does any of this have to do with the NYC marathon on Sunday? I wish for the runners that the organizers would do the right thing and postpone. Of course that would be disappointing for runners who’ve been training so hard. But to put the burden on them to make the decision? If I was running on Sunday, if it was my first marathon? The race experience is the end of a long journey. It’s important and should be honored. Unforeseen events can and do happen. But if you know that you are going to be putting runners under unnecessary duress, and testing the resources of a city that can’t afford it, you owe it to everyone to take responsibility for that and make the right decision. And to all the first-time marathoners struggling with what to do, do what’s best for you, for both your body and your spirit. And if you agree that the marathon needs to be postponed, please sign the petition at Change.org.

The earth was the floor of the sky…

 Elsewhere the sky is the roof of the world; but here the earth was the floor of the sky.
– Willa Cather
I subscribe to two different daily quotation lists. I’m always seeing quotes I like posted by friends on Facebook and in blogs I read. I’m known to post favorites myself. And yet, to choose a favorite? I don’t have one favorite. It depends on the day and how I am feeling. 
So today, on this first day of Nablopomo, I choose this lovely sentence from Willa Cather that describes to me what it is like to live in New Mexico. When I first started visiting here, before we knew we’d end up living here, I described it as a place where I felt like my feet were really on the ground. They have to be, because the sky is so huge, and you feel so small. You have to find your roots when you are in so much space. Growing up and living on the east coast and in the midwest, the sky holds you down. But out here, you have to find your center and your path in all the possibility. The harsh beauty of the high desert tests your equilibrium. You can never be detached from the earth here, and you never forget that you are part of something much much bigger.

If you want to write, you actually have to write.

I must confess that I am someone who has dreamt of writing and being a writer for most of my life, all without actually writing. No, scratch that. I’ve done a lot of writing. Academic writing back in the days of college and graduate school. Business writing through presentations and research reports and recommendations. Journaling, morning pages, the odd blog post. But I’m not someone with the great American novel bursting out of me. And yet, I think about writing. A lot.

I finally decided to stop thinking about it and start doing it when Alice Bradley offered her online course The Practice of Writing. I’ve never taken a writing class before. And I really like it. And it’s also really hard. And I have no idea of anything I’m writing is really going to go anywhere. But Ms. Bradley keeps reminding us that it doesn’t matter right now. Because we are working on the practice of writing. You have to just write.

How convenient that NaBloPoMo starts tomorrow. As Gretchen Rubin points out so well, some things you should try to do every day. So here we go!