Saturday, September 25, 2010

I entered into a dreamland

Ever loved a place so much that it actually becomes a physical presence in your life?  Boulder, Colorado carries part of my heart.  Whenever I go out there, I’m snipping the cord that tethers me to Boston.  Somewhere over the midwest, a little troll sitting on the wing of the plane pulls out his figurative scissors and I am free.
I headed out to Boulder last Saturday to attend the wedding of Kristin Carpenter and John Supsic.  I’d met Kristin only last Fall when I’d joined Mary’s BX team for one of their long runs.  We immediately hit it off and stories were volleyed between us girls.   The miles went by effortlessly.  Fast forward to Sunday afternoon, where about 100+ friends and family gathered at Chataqua Park to celebrate their union.  It was hot as the hinges on the gates of hell and I realize this is not a good analogy for wedding talk, but I can think of nothing hotter.  93 degrees, not a cloud in the sky, facing the raw burning ball of fire as it s-l-o-w-l-y made it’s way beyond the flatirons.  I had knee sweat.  The guy in front of me was recreating the path of the Nile along his hairline, and have a newfound admiration for Pat, whose blue buttoned-down dress shirt had not even a drop of sweat on it.  Pat is clearly part of the rare breed of non-sweaters (as I type this I imagine a giant pile of unraveled sweater sitting beside a topless man, the end of the wooly string tucked into his pants...).  

Anyway, the wedding was lovely and Kristin was a beautiful bride.  We followed the wedding party to the Rembrandt where dancing, mojitos, cupcakes and glass bowls of candy winked and shimmered all night long.  I obviously danced like it was my job and was very impressed at the number of dance fanatics on the dance floor all around me.  I’m usually accompanied by a few old men and inebriated moms who got the night off.  This was awesome.  I was able to get down with the twin, too.  It was great fun, and made for some interesting observances.  Can someone tell me why men’s ties end up around their heads as the night progresses?
After Sunday, my week was centered around being outside as much as possible and doing fun things.  This is not hard to do in a town that is essentially perfect except for the fact that it has no ocean (I’ve asked God to make something out of this predicament, but it seems splitting the US down the middle is not top priority).
So I’ll share some highlights:
Monday NOON, An hour run up in Heil Valley Ranch (Picture Rock Trail) with Sarah Legh and Mary Moo.  
I met Sarah soon after I landed on Saturday at a BBQ she and her husband, Chris, hosted for a few peeps.  It was rocking.  That night, we made plans to meet up on Monday afternoon for an hour’s run up Picture Rock Trail in Lyons.  Fast-forward a few days later and we laced up the shoes, grabbed some Gu and started up towards the silo.  Mary kept us at a steady, comfortable pace as we leapt over mountain lion scat and kept our eyes on the rocky trail.  It was one skinny dusty line snaking over arid foothills.  
I was bringing up the back and on occasion would look cautiously over my shoulder to be sure we weren’t being stalked by a big cat.  I had heard from a trusted source that the cats don’t lunch midday. But with waist-high grass, rock outcroppings above us and single track you can’t be too careful.  I since found out that this “midday snack” thing was a complete myth and likely used to get me out on the trail.  It worked.
Tuesday AM, Marshall Road w/the BX crew
Well, technically I did not run with the BXers.  I merely arrived at 6:30am and ran the Marshall Trail with a few of them for a warm up.  Then, when they began their 8x3 minuters (which took them around one giant 8mile loop), I ran Marshall about 3 more times alone or with some late comers to the party who wanted a warm-up buddy.  I’d say I ran about 6 miles total, which was kind of hysterical because I hate doing the same loop twice in a row, let alone 4 times in one day!  But the scenery was beautiful, the crew was kind and full of energy and the sun rising was undoubtably in sync with my spirits.  
Tuesday PM, Menomena @ the Fox Theater
I was introduced to this band by a coworker who shares a passion for music.  I’ve since been hooked to their musicality, which sounds like gravel hitting the sea in a shimmering rain shower.  Intricate and vast.  When I found out they were playing in Boulder, I tried to convince Mary and Joe to go with me.  Alas, both had early workouts the following day and they were saving up to see Local Natives - which are coming to the Fox Theater this week.  I’m fine going to hear music alone and with that, bought my tickets, threw on some boots, skinny jeans, chapstick and hit up the venue for the last two songs of the first act, Tu Fawney.  Then came The Suckers, then Menomena.  Loved it.
Wednesday AM,  Flatiron #3
A hike with a friend proved to be good for the legs, the lungs and the heart.  It’s nice to hike with someone who doesn’t require a lot of stories from you - especially when you’re trying to be cool and seem “in shape”.  I’m actually quite good at the uphill climb, but the downhill really sucks.  My knees rebel, by body quivers with the fatigue of supporting my lanky frame and my quads like to remind me that they’re not THAT strong.  After a nice respite at the top (well, not actually the “top” but the highest point you can go on this flatiron), with climbers shouting orders above us and a whole swatch of Colorado flattened out in front of us, conversation flowed freely between life and where the heck-bomb the CU football field was located.  
A post-hike espresso and vegan scone at the local coffeehouse made for a nice ending to a great morning.  Now off to find Mary and Joe...
Wednesday PM, 10k TheGambles and Sherpa’s
I was feeling restless.  I found out my flight was actually at 7:55am the next day and made haste to change that sucker to later in the morning AND was also able to find a non-stop (which I could do for only a couple bucks more, thank you Southwest).  Clouds had come through and after sprawling on the floor watching Iron Chef and doing some last-minute laundry, Joe and I decided to head out on the trails for an “easy” run.  Mind you, I’m talking about Joe Gambles here.  Evidently I was supposed to be setting the pace but anyone who knows me knows I cannot pace anyone - especially myself.  Well, we hit the trails and needless to say, we had speed.  Which sucked.  Because I’m still polishing the slim string of a psoas spasm from last Sunday’s death run where my right leg jack-knifed to my gut.  But in the end it was beautiful and running next to Joe was like running next to a leopard and I’ve always wanted to keep speed with a wild animal.

Then we went to Sherpa’s - on Walnut & 9th - where we proceeded to take down some serious Nepalese food and naan while admiring the framed pictures of adventurers who have ticked off dozens of the world’s highest peaks.  I think the guy next to us was an alpinist (I swear), as I heard him talking about the “film crew” that had to go back down and he tossed around “Kathmandu” the way I would discuss my vegetarian Jal Fregi sauce. I love love LOVE it there and if I do move to Boulder, it will become my favorite haunt, hands down.  Sherpas.  Amazing.

There were other fantastic moments, to be sure, and I can share them with you on any occasion that we meet.  This particular blog isn’t about a mindset, or a challenge, or a perspective, but in the last 5 days I’ve realized just how great my life is, and in living it I feel I have a better appreciation for all of those things.  Of course, that will change over and over again.  But such is life:)  And that’s cool by me.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I like her attitude

I came across this little blip after reading Scott Dunlap's blog (part of my morning ritual), and then of course I did some digging on who this girl was and could I ever beat her at anything (probably, but not at running.  the chick ran a 1:15 14-miler.  No big deal).  

Anyway, Lauren Fleshman rocked this year's 2010 XTERRA Trail Run Nt'l Championships.  Lauren apparently has fast legs AND an incredibly refreshing outlook on life as an athlete.  It's a great clip, and I especially love what she says starting at 0:33 mark. Very insightful.  Made me stop and think about my own life -which is wildly different than hers, but you know what?  Not so much.  Regardless of WHO you are or WHAT you've accomplished thus far,  it's hard enough to take a step back and find value in the hardest areas of life, to know that down the line what we learned then about who we are has made us stronger today.  It's all incredibly valuable, and it's innocent interviews like this that make me feel good.

I won't give any more away.  Enjoy!


Saturday, September 11, 2010

I faithfully remain

i didn’t need a reminder that life was good.  and to be honest, when I woke up this morning and spent a solid hour reading “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” with a french pressed coffee and a solid breakfast on my lap, I was completely convinced in my bones that life was, in fact, good.
but there was this concert, see.  In Canton, MA, which is only 18 miles from Boston.  And this concert existed only this weekend and would take place on a farm at the base of the Blue Hills.  Some friends had already bought tickets and really wanted me to go.  I wanted to go.  But I also really wanted to stay in the city and get some stuff done before the work week and before I leave to visit my sis in Boulder.  At 11am the phone rang.
“Kay, what are you doing.” (it wasn’t a question)
“Sam, I’m still not sure.  Are you going?”
“Yes, Em and I are buying tickets now.  You want in?  How ‘bout if I buy yours and you buy me beer all night?”
“Still not sure, Sammer.  Let me hit my run and I’ll think about it.  You buy your tickets.”
“Kay, this is a total deal.  What if I don’t drink $50 worth of beer?  Then you made out like a bandit.”
“Okay, let me think about it...”
And so I thought about it.  And about 40 minutes into my run, with the weather this nice and the everyone out and enjoying life....I realized I’d be stupid not to go.  So I purchase and an hour later I was picked up by Sam and Emily.  
I’m not really one for festivals.  Actually, I don’t mind festivals but I really hate large crowds.  I’d rather a small, intimate show than anything big.  I love the outdoors, but generally speaking, it plays to a larger audience and more often than not the acoustics stink.  But today was pretty flippn great.  The Life is Good festival took place at Prowse Farm, and was really well run.  In fact, I reckon it was the best organized festival I’ve been to (and I heard many people reinforcing this statement throughout the night)  The sun rolled slowly down the sky to the tunes of Dr. Dog, Ziggy Marley, Ozomatli, Grace Potter, and finally, Ben Harper....
There were tiny people carved out up in the cliffs of the blue hills, enjoying a free show as the pink clouds set into deep blues and the giant orange orbs lit up the fields.
The people, the crowd, the energy all were amazing too.  So much fun.  Happiness was everywhere.  None of this, “you’re standing on my blanket!” “I can’t see over your head!”, “Move! Stop talking!” etc....All good things.  
I smell like hash, my feet are dirty and my blanket has a million beer stains from random strangers.  But tonight was beautiful and it was shared in the company of friends and perfect strangers.   And we were smiling, and we were singing and we were content. 
And I am reminded as I head for the showers that it's easy to not change, to accept doing the same old, same old because it's comfortable.  I am convinced that if I had stayed in Boston and done all the things I was going to do, I would still be content at the end of the day.  Nothing would change and that's not a bad thing.  But I did something different.  And it felt good, despite my desire to be lazy all day :)  And I'm sure some days I will need to be that Lazy thing.  But today I stood up and I went somewhere and I was part of a larger and beautiful picture.  

Today was solid and awesome and I am exhausted and my voice is gone but I feel great. And I am reminded that despite all the chaos swirling about us...Life, my friends, is good. And sometimes it takes changing up routine to believe it all over again.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

i'm working on a high hope

It all started when Sam sat down with his guitar and started to play, “Only Living Boy in New York”.  Sam has a good voice.  Sam went to Colby College and was on the a capella team.  team?  maybe it’s not a team; maybe it’s a choir.  we’ll call it a choir.  
We’d just come back from the beach.  we sprawled out on the couch, each wrapped up in the lull that happens after a day in salty, sun and sand.  It was later afternoon and the sky melted down into rich yellows and the air cooled.  i fall in love with dusk every day.

Katie, Em and Sam had come up to my parent’s house for the weekend to hang out.  I was dog-sitting while my parents were up in Camden living out my father’s dream of watching sailboats in the harbor of that salty seaside town he had frequented as a deckhand as a boy.  Going back after nearly 45 years was going to be one beautiful trip down memory lane for him and a special moment he wanted to share with his beautiful bride.  And with Earl never having touched our great state, it was all in the cards for a lovely, cool, blue-skied weekend for all!
So there we were, the four of us, half-dozing.  Sam tooling around on his guitar, Emily about to hop in the shower, when he played the first few chords of Simon + Garfunkel’s beautiful melody and decided we could all harmonize.  okay first you should know i have this thing.  I want to be able to harmonize.  and I can’t.  mind you, I can sing like a normal person.  I mean I’m no Zoey Dechanel, but I can lay down a mean Jean Valjean/Javier impression and you better believe I can hold my own on most tracks on my iPod.  But when it comes to harmonizing, I got nothing.  zip, zilch, nada.  So you think, “Big deal, Miller.  It’s not like it’s a big part of your life.”  and you’d be right.  but I still want to do it.  And I still pester anyone who can do it, to teach me how (ask Pete Harvey how annoying I was on our way to Killington last winter).  But, you guys.  20 minutes and a few dozen unsuccessful tries later, we nailed it.  and I mean NAILED it.  Sam, the patient teacher, gave me one note.  ONE NOTE.  And whatever everybody else was doing, I just focused on that one note and guess what dudes?  I did it.
This led to ecstatic leaps from my side of the couch.  I sounded like a two year old who’d been tossed in the air, “Again! Again!”  
So, after nailing it a few more times and feeling hopped up on the good energy and the beautiful beautiful consonance of our voices, we got to talking about how harmony has such an effect on music (another gentle reminder that I can appreciate this as a listener, though I still cannot contribute to it:)).
I remembered a time not too long ago when a friend shared with me this video of Glen Hansard singing a new, untitled song at The Wiltern in LA last year.  he asks the crowd to sing the chorus with him.  then he asks those who are brave enough to harmonize and what follows is wonderful.  I hope you enjoy.