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Archive for the ‘Needless Discussion about Myself’ Category

In previous years, I have kept a journal on Stephen and I’s backpacking trips. I’ve been better about posting these in a timely fashion in the past – except for Algonquin, which I never posted at all (but which I plan to type up soon). Anyway, previous entries are here:
The High Uintas, 2010
Algonquin Provincial Park, 2009
Glacier National Park, 2008
King’s Canyon National Park, 2007

There was no trip in 2011, as Steve was living in Germany. Jen and I visited him there instead.

Each time we do this, it’s a little less stressful, less exciting, less noteworthy. That’s not to say it’s not wonderful, it is. Now, I see the mountains, and I say, wow, these are epic, sort of like …, and name a previous range I’ve backpacked in. The first time you see the mountains (from IN the mountains because it’s VERY different), it changes your world. World was changed a while ago now, and recollection is less intense an experience than discovery.

Anyway, here’s the log from this last trip.

8/20/12 1750 PST
About 8 miles in at McAlester Lake, around 5500 ft elevation. We got out of the Monin house around 6:15 this morning. We stopped for Steve’s run at the North Cascades station and got to the Bridge Creek trailhead around 1215. After giving three damsels in distress a jump and opening the door in the bathroom on a naked dude, (“YO! Don’t you knock?” “Yo, don’t you lock?” I inadvertently rhymed back) we left for the woods before he got out.

It was a comedy of errors in the first mile, as we interpreted a trail sign for Stiletto Spur to be for the spur itself and not the trail TO the spur (which we wanted). Instead we took this marginal trail which became progressively more primitive until it basically evaporated at an unsanctioned stream crossing. We persevered and eventually intersected the PCT, getting on our way.

Once in the right place, it was uneventful. It’s nice country, but the hike was not noteworthy for anything in particular.

Since we’ve arrived, Steve has caught a small cutthroat trout, not big enough to eat. We saw a bird dive bomb into the lake for a fish. It was fat and black with a white head and looked more like a duck than a bird of prey. Have since heard his huge kersplash another time. Mosquitoes, by the way, have necessitated full body protection. It’s about 68, so not a big deal. I doubt the water is colder than 55 – fairly pleasant. We jumped in to bathe for a few minutes. There’s a middle aged couple nearby, but otherwise it’s pretty peaceful out here.

8/21/12 1650 PST
I got my typical poor night’s sleep, with about 3 good hours from 1-4 and another 2 hrs sprinkled here and there. Not awful, and had the opportunity to see the stars at 4. So many, I couldn’t figure out what I was looking at.

After some oatmeal and crasins, we broke camp around 7:30, to do the 10 miles to Rainbow Lake. After a long descent, we had just as long of an ascent, for no net elevation gain, but down and back up more than 2500 ft. The highlight of the day was Steve’s yearly foray into danger. This year, scaling the mountain to the south side of Rainbow Lake was quite good. We had excellent views of Chelan, the western mountains in the Cascade range, and most all of the park. The weather was once again perfect, though the western range looked to be getting some rain.

I’m now sitting in an west facing meadow, absorbing sum after my daily bathing. The water is surprisingly warm, maybe even 60 degrees. It’s tough getting into it, but you can stand it for a few minutes once you’re in.

By the way, really fresh black bear skat in the camp. Full of berries. I think we may be seeing him later…

8/22/12 1825 PST
The walk from Rainbow Lake to South Fork was uneventful. We got up around 7 – I slept reasonably well; despite waking up a dozen or so times. I got a few decent chunks. On the trail before 9, we covered the 7 miles by ~12:30.

With lots of time to kill, we started following the river downstream. The river was fast enough and deep enough to require some skill, and the density of the vegetation forced us to cover most ground in the river itself. The water here is still amazingly warm – probably near to 60 degrees.

Along the way, Steve dropped his line in whenever we hit a spot deeper than 4 ft, catching several dozen fish (I even caught 2). Of those, we ate 6 for dinner. Good to add some calories.

Meanwhile, the sun is setting straight down the river valley – perfect for pictures. This site is underrated. It’s a great place with enormous cyprus and [unk] trees and a lovely river. We’re the only ones here, making it better. Good stuff.

8/23/12 1030 PST
After the 6.3 miles from South Fork to the Bridge Creek Trailhead in 2.5 hrs, we were done by 1030. Last night I took some pictures before sitting on Steve’s fishing log for a bit, watching the fish as the sun set behind the mountains. Eventually, dozens of bats patrolled above our heads – very few mosquitoes here by the way.

It dropped to 35 degrees last night – cold in the bags. Steve’s going to freeze in Yellowstone. Broke camp in just over an hour – a quick turn around when you include the hot meal. Decent enough sleep too – 10 hrs of the very fragment sort.

Once again, the trip was sustainable. The perfect weather helped, but we easily could have gone longer – with more food. Good stuff, all of it.

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To those who know me, it’s no real surprise that I am spasmodically obsessive. When I latch on to something, I fixate. I’ve taken some steps to avoid this – I don’t do puzzles, I stay away from most needlessly strenuous mental exercises, and I mostly read non-fiction. You can’t become fixated on non-fiction; it’s too boring.

But every so often I decide to become involved with a book. If I catch hold of it, I’ll read hundreds of pages a day. I completely immerse myself in the world, until I might as well trade out my existence for a fabricated one. Over the last 9 days, I plowed through the 1200 pages of the Hunger Games Trilogy. I lived in that disturbing world, even beginning to evaluate the meddle of reality against the alternate reality presented in its pages.

I’m fortunate that books eventually end. Delusion can be powerful, and life, real life, is always so much less interesting than fake life. For most, there are no travails that define our lives in these frantic, but peaceful times. In a book (particular in popular teen fiction), meaning and purpose are so cut and dry. In life, not so much. We are not the olden generation. We’re listless, our lives are haphazard, and much of what we face every day is utterly unimportant.

In general terms, these books do a fantastic job at presenting a world that is disturbingly depraved, yet still vaguely plausible. They sugar coat nothing, and fall into cliches infrequently. They even blur the lines between good and evil, leaving you with a realistic sort of bad evil and less bad evil view of the institutions of mankind.

If done well, it’ll make a great movie. At least the first two books will. The last one…kinda ran out of steam, though it had its moments. I have a hard time visualizing them making these PG-13, as a faithful account of the books’ vicious and dark world could easily necessitate an R. It’s tough to sugar coat children killing children for the amusement of adults, particularly given the brutally graphic ways in which people – most everyone, really – dies.

Still, I’ll be watching it.

FYI, this review is simulcast here. Just in case you want to emulate my eclectic reading habits.

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First off, I don’t remember how explicit I was on this…but I had surgery on my left achilles last Wednesday. It feel pretty good now – I’ve been off the sauce since Saturday, and as I type, I’ve had my foot in an un-elevated position for several straight minutes. It’s not even throbbing, exactly. It’s doing well. I’ll have it out of the soft-cast that I have in a week and a half. I’ll be off the crutches sometime after that, and out of the walking boot a couple months later. There’s a decent chance that the left achilles will no longer be my impediment when I try to run again, in, say, January.

In unrelated news, I have missed my calling in life several times over. I’m decent at a lot of the things that I do. But I would have been an excellent military man. I love structure, punctuality, and performing excessive acts of physical prowess. Sorry for the lack of proper parallelism in that list. I’m not gonna fix it, but I know it’s there, just letting you know that I know, if you know what I mean.

Second, I should have been a Native American, circa about 1500. I’d vote Iroquois. I’m not a fan of the Indians from the southern US and Mexico, but the Plains Indians and those form the East Coast, I think those guys really had this world figured out. In fact, if we ever, you know, lose 6.5 billion people along with human civilization, I think we should revert to their lifestyle. It’d be nice to emulate them now, but it’s not exactly plausible in this overpopulated mess that we’ve created over the last few hundred years.

Third, and most realistically, I should have been in Star Fleet. It combines the structure and pursuit of excellence found in the military with flying around on space ships, fighting aliens, and exploring new worlds. What’s not to love? The Borg, maybe.

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A couple of nights ago, while lifting weights for the first time in a few weeks, I paused for a minute before my last set on the bench. It was, by the way, also my second set. I only really had a half an hour to do it. Would you like some excuses? I can make you some. One becomes adept at concocting excuses if he allows himself the opportunity to practice.

Anyway, I lay beneath the silver bar, staring up at it. There was a reflection, a mutated, warped one, fuzzy, unrecognizable, but it was me. As we blinked at each other, some innocuous classic rock in the background, I fell into a brief revelry. “Is that me?” I blinked. That lazy guy that rides an exercise bike 4 times a week. Runs maybe once. Does some push-ups and pull-ups. Hasn’t lifted for a month. Is that who I’ve become, lazy, resigned?

I don’t write anymore. I don’t take pictures anymore. I certainly don’t (in my defense, can’t) run anymore. I’d be flattering myself to claim that I have any useful faith anymore. I lay and stared at the bar, wondering what, exactly, I was if not everything that I once thought I was.

All I do is work and recover from work. I come home, sit in front of the computer for 20 minutes, bother Jen for 20 minutes, shift some dirt around in the garden, eat dinner, ride the exercise bike, get tired, go to bed, go to work. Work. Filthy, mandatory, pervasive, work. At all hours, work. In my head whenever I leave it, in my dreams when I sleep, no running to vent it, just work.

I could hardly recognize the oblate, warped image staring back at me in the bar. Close your eyes, breathe out, silence, breathe in pause and out – UP.

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I’m getting cornier as I get older. I’m starting to think that corny things are funnier now too. Jen doesn’t help, she laughs at me when I’m silly/stupid. She gets refined humor too, but she doesn’t make me work for it, so I stop at puns and hyperactive slap-stick dopiness. The hyperactive part is the key.

Anyway, I have more than one ring. The first ring was the expensive one, $120. It’s tungsten carbide, which I love, because it doesn’t scratch and scratches on rings bug me. It’s a little small, however. I also don’t like rings that I can’t get off my finger. I’m one of those people who can pull his ring off while he’s walking down the hall, then flip it around on his hand and shove it back on, all without having his hand leave his side. I enjoy doing that, it’s a clandestine affair sort of skill, only without the clandestine affairs. Anyway, I got a half sized bigger ring when it got warmer, because the first ring was too hard to get off. That one cost $60, and I have been wearing it for a while now. Yesterday, noting how small and cold my hands were (which the ladies love), I busted back out the original. It’s definitely better looking, so long as my hands stay small and cold. I’m considering wearing one on each hand for fun some day. Or maybe both on one finger? Lots of possibilities.

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There comes a time in every man’s life when his wife commandeers his brand new vehicle and he gets stuck driving a 1998 Civic. That time, dear readers, is apparently now.

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For some reason, I’ve been sleeping on my back more than usual. I think it’s because there’s someone else in the bed – eventually I try to roll from one side to the other and run into an immovable object, forcing me to stop halfway. Last night, I woke up at around 4 AM, having been asleep on my back with my Jen-side arm (left) slung up over my head. I tried to move it and was jabbed with pain. Low and behold, my left arm was stuck over my head.

Having dislocated that shoulder in the past, I had the foresight not to force anything. I started stretching out my elbow, pointing my hand from side to side, anything to try to get it to slip back into joint so that I could lower it. No dice. I got up and drowsily walked to the backroom, still with arm dangling above my head. Once standing things rectified themselves fairly quickly – the arm just sort of dropped its way back into place. I groggily returned to bed and went back to sleep.

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I had a strange thought walking into work this morning. Let’s be honest, it was more of a hobble. My left achilles is not doing well. I have a searing pain inside of it when I stretch. I feel it when I walk, it makes me short step. Needless to say, this is not good for my unofficial plan to train for a race in the fall. Let’s shelve that thought for a second.

On TV, sometimes people say things like “Why is this happening to me?” Me? I rarely say that. I can’t recall ever saying that. I more often wonder why other worse things aren’t happening to me instead of why moderately inconvenient things are. Listen folks, I’m a runner. It’s what I am. I was hobbling in to work this morning, and I was thinking about how sometimes older people get some bug in their ear and start thinking things like “hey, how about I try to run a 10K?” or maybe “hey, I’m out of shape, I should fix that.” I was wincing, walking, and then I thought…but I won’t be able to have that thought, at least not realistically, when I’m older. Even though that is what I am, a runner, by nature. And then, for the first time in my admittedly short recollection, I wondered to myself “Why is this happening to me?” Like I’m some kind of victim of some sort of injustice.

I know why it’s happening to me. It’s happening to me because I’m genetically predisposed to this sort of thing. It’s happening because I only did almost everything right when I was a runner and not everything right. It’s happening because I knew it was happening but made the choice to continue anyway because I’m stubborn and think at some almost conscious level that I’m invincible. So, that’s why it’s happening to me…but it doesn’t make it any more pleasant.

I still don’t regret it. I guess that’s probably next – never been a victim, owner of few regrets, I’ll probably be whining about that soon too.

Just a few nights ago, I was telling Jen about Sisyphus as we were lying in bed. Do other couples talk about Greek mythology as they fall asleep? How many times can I try to run again, only to tumble back to the beginning, wearied and beaten, but still, despite it all, defined by my need to push the damn rock up to the top of the damn mountain again.

Anyway, thought you might like a post.

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There have been many times that I’ve thought about writing something in the last few days. I don’t remember what I was thinking at the time. It’s sort of like dreams. You wake up at three in the morning with a clear recollection of the dream and you say to yourself (if you’re me at least), man, that was a weird dream, I’m going to write about that later, and then you forget all details when you wake up a few hours later. It’s not enough to think about thinking about it, you have to make a conscious effort to drive the recollection into your conscious mind, to inspect it, mush it around, chew on it, digest it, poop it out. Sometimes you have to follow the metaphor to completion, I’m sorry.

Anyway, I remembered the dream about Jen trying to bribe a grader for an exam with $42 in an envelope. It was a $2 bill and a $40 bill, which doesn’t actually exist. That’s the good thing about sleeping with someone, you can mumble your dreams to them while they try to ignore you. Sometimes you just need an audience at 4 in the morning. Your dreams are important enough to wake someone else up for, and you should do it if you get the chance.

Something that wasn’t a dream was what I saw while driving to meet Jen’s aunt and uncle for dinner.

I’m barely coherent right now, by the way. I’ve done nothing but work all day, well, I guess I went to church and went on a hard run, but the moral of the story is that I’m delirious. My eyes are blurring. I want to shut everything down and go to bed, but I have a head of steam and if I do that I’ll lose it, obviously. I might clean the bathroom after I finish this. It’s just that I know it’ll be full of hair again in 3 days; it’s a little discouraging. Say what you will about Justin’s localized sloppiness, he didn’t leave his hair everywhere.

Anyway, the missus and I were driving north on 95 when we hit some traffic – which is normal for rush hour, even Saturday evening rush, which does exist around here. On the left hand shoulder we pass a cop car, two civilian cars and about 10 high schoolers looking hip in their shaggy hair and little accessory tote bags (while stranded on the side of the highway!). Immediately after them and stretching for the next 400 meters were many dozens of mangled, torn, disfigured stuffed animals. They had clearly hit the pavement at highway speeds, being dashed to bits as they pinwheeled snout over feet for an extended distance. Eyes were missing, appendages dismembered, button tails bobbed into the ditch in the median. It was the most macabre, morbid and absurd scene I’ve seen in a while. I wanted a picture of it. I have one, in my brain, and I’ll try to describe it to you if you ever want a full description. I can tell you that every stuffed animal was different. It had a lot of character for a mangled mess.

Let’s see. We’re going to WA in less than a week. My plants are thriving so far, but I’m a little worried about the Dahlia – they seem to be getting a bit to big for their britches. Thunbergia, Black Eyed Susan vine, are also in need of some new digs. I have a lot of garden related work between now and when we leave, including planting the second set of seeds, planting the forget-me-nots outside, planting the hummingbird mix seeds in a planter outside and planting some Dahlia tubers. I’m having a hard time negotiating the fact that I’m growing Dahlia from seeds right now while I have Dahlia that look completely different and grow from tubers in another place. Hmpf. Is Dahlia such a cool name that we need to name two different flowers with it?

I need a friggin nap. I need to go back to work so I can relax a little. Sheesh.

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Many moons ago, probably about 40 now, I decided to stop posting links to other people’s blogs. People got insulted when I didn’t post theirs, but I couldn’t link everything, and people’s feelings got hurt, especially if I didn’t like what they wrote. This all applies to people that I knew in the past but no longer do. In fact, I never knew them, these boring people never existed, Google created them. So, don’t worry, I don’t think your blog circa 2005 was boring.

Anyway, these days, most of the blogs that I visit regularly have these sidebar widgets that inform you of how recently their links were updated. I see these things, and I feel a lot of pressure. I, after all, was the champion internet all-star for about 4 years, post-bigwhoop, pre-Jen. Updated 1 week ago? Has it really been one whole week?

So, what has happened in this last week?

Let’s see… Jen and I went on a two hour walk in the woods, during which time we studied all kinds of respiratory disorders and their associated drugs. We found a bone from a deer or person. I had fire extinguisher training at work! But the fake fire didn’t work so I couldn’t put anything out. I found a piece of scrap metal in the parking lot that fit like a ring, I’m wearing it now, it’s a little scratchy and tetanus-ee, but it fits great. Oh! I spent 2.5 hrs tilling and re-tilling the soil in my new bulb garden. It’s going to be fantastic. Went to church, went to house church, didn’t have bible study because everyone’s husbands are out of town. Had a walk-through of our wedding hall with the caterer, whose car got towed. I kept trying to write that as “town” but that’s a different word, and it doesn’t mean that I need it to mean. I bought my wedding ring online, settling on Tungsten Carbide, because it’s the most best. I sat around while Jen studied for a million straight hours, helping wherever possible, but mostly fretting about it. I decided I wanted to see what would happen to my achilles if I ran 7 straight days, and found roughly what I expected. I woke up at or before 5 AM twice to go to work early. That is never fun.

I think that’s about it. You didn’t miss much. I don’t have time to think up ridiculous things these days. In their stead, I worry about everything that I can’t control, and cease to care about everything that I can. I kind of want to go to bed. Or to sleep, perchance to dream.

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The only time that I have available to write here is when I’m intentionally trying to be late for something.

But let’s be honest. It’s not like I don’t have 15 minutes a day to write here. I do. I have 15 minutes. I probably have an full half hour, heck, maybe even a full hour if you add it all up. The problem is, I function much better if I stare at the wall for an hour a day. Sure, it comes in three minute chunks. Ok, 30 second chunks. I can’t sit still for 3 straight minutes. Being hyperactive is advantageous, it keeps you slim. I burn a lot of calories a day fidgeting. It’s like smoking, only with physical activity instead of cancer. I walk up and down the stairs at least 30 times a day.

I’m tired. I could be more tired. In fact, I’m the second most tired person in my pre-family household of two. I guess in that sense, I’m the least tired person in my life, taking “my life” to encompass two people. You’re not allowed to be tired when you’re the least tired one, especially when you’re hyperactive and people expect you to be tireless.

I’m not even going to be able to be late for this thing. I try to be late and it doesn’t even work. I’m so disciplined to the clock that even when Outlook isn’t popping up reminders of those things that I should be doing but am not for weeks at a time, I still get reminders, internal to my brain. I know exactly what time I need to leave to not be late, and some inhuman pull is yanking me toward that departure entirely against my will. I just want to sit here and stare at the wall. For 3 whole minutes, or at least 30 seconds.

I don’t think I’ve been writing enough. I think writing keeps you sane (do you think?). I think writing helps you process your thoughts instead of leaving them to pool up in vast stagnant pools. You poke at a stagnant pond and you don’t even get the thoughts that you dumped in there, all you get is stink. Rotten water, just stink, nothing useful in those ponds. The problem is that when you have thoughts, rarely though they are, you are too busy to do anything with them. Sometimes you can’t spare 15 minutes, or even two minutes to scribble down your thoughts for later transcription. The sorts of thoughts that you have when you’re frantic only make sense when you’re frantic.

I need to leave in 5 minutes to be on time and I still need to change and go to the bathroom. Dear reader, I am almost late. I might be late. Please, help me be late. I swear it’s possible. Especially if I proof read. Pit one perfectionist neurosis against another.

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One of the perks of having a wedding toward the end of December is that you get to piggy-back it with Christmas. We’re not fighting it. In fact, I’m currently vetting Christmas music. We hope to have around 10-15 Christmas songs intermixed in our playlist. I drive to and from work with the likes of Rosemary Clooney, Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra.

Try listening to Christmas music in September. It’s like hearing a baby cry, you start to lactate, or seeing a doggie treat, you start to drool. I listen to Christmas music and start to get antsy about whether or not my mom and dad are going to get me the G.I. Joe General.

Oddly, I’ll be skipping Christmas and all things related to Christmas this year. Instead, I’ll be on my honeymoon, in stormy Ocean City, MD, where the waves will crash and the wind will howl. Lots of hype for Christmas this year. But then no Christmas.

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Tomorrow Steve and I head north. Stop one is for a Yankees/Red Sox game with the old man at the new stadium. On Saturday, we head to mighty Maynooth, Ontario to stay at a hostel. Then, on to Algonquin Provincial Park for 4 days and three nights in the interior. Day one is Canoe Lake to Misty Lake, day two from Misty to Big Trout, three from Big Trout to the North Arm of the Opeongo, then finally canoeing out to a pick up point at Opeonga on Wednesday. We’ll stay in Belleville, Ontario (on the lake), then Steve will drop me off in Albany for a flight back to BWI on Thursday evening. Some years it’s altitude and mountains, others bears and cold, this year it’s looking like water. Lots and lots of water. Here’s to keeping the canoe from capsizing.

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I used to write here all the time. Today, I had an awkward story that I wanted to get off my chest. I sent Jen a text about it, but she was at work. The story still remained, and I couldn’t move past it until I told someone. So I wrote it here.

It’s pretty obvious, when I think about it. I don’t write here as much because I just tell Jen all my dumb stories. I don’t have a need to publish it for the outside world, because I now have a closed-circuit outlet that works just as well.

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This morning I woke up at my normal 5:43 AM with my alarm. Having been awoken from what seemed like hours of restless, frustrating dreams, I determined that I would sleep more – a disturbing trend which has occurred a handful of times in the last several months. I set my alarm for 6:12, rolled over, and fell asleep.

Mere minutes later, I rolled back over to see that it was now 6:26! I popped straight up, skipped the computer and headed to the shower. Ten minutes later, I picked up the cell phone – it is Jen’s first day at her rotation with the VA – and went to send a text. 6:09 AM.

On alarm clocks, they make this big fat button called “Snooze”. They do this because people don’t think really well when they are violently roused from sleep. I set the CLOCK to 6:12 – fast forwarding local time by 29 minutes. My alarm would have gone off at the same time the next day, 23:31 later. 6:26 was really just 14 minutes after I had changed time – aka 5:57 EST.

I’ve been in a strange nether-world all morning thus far, as my internal chronometer has bifurcated into two different threads. Improperly initialized, I stand little chance of recovering completely until I go back to bed tonight.

In other news, my pictures page (under “New Pictures”) has my most recent entries. The goal is to catch up before the big Algonquin PP trip.

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Our plane leaves to come back to the hot and humid east coast in 4 hrs. It has been downright chilly here all week, with temps barely reaching 75, and plummeting into the upper 40s at night. Next time I’m bringing more than one long sleeve.

In brief, this week we:
Went to the space needle, took the monorail, schlepped around Pike’s Place Market, walked the Seattle waterfront, met up with Jen’s friend Jessa, ate a bunch of dinner, talked shop on weddings, registered at Bed Bath and Beyond (which may be the only place that we end up registering), drove to Mt St Helens (and didn’t see it, as she was cloudy), went to Multonoma Falls, walked the rose gardens in Portland, had sushi with Jen’s friend Libby’s parents, stayed with Libby’s parents, took the scenic route to Eugene, ate at Cafe Yumm, went on a walking tour of campus, visited Jen’s friend Terri (and family), went out to McSomethingOrOther for beer and tater tots, watched my brother run at US Nationals (more later), drove back to Albany, OR to stay the night, drove back to Eugene for breakfast with Jen’s friends Mike and Stephanie (and their son and granddaughter), met my parents at the legendary Saturday market, met up with Jen’s friend Dave, drove him to Portland, went to Powell’s gigantic bookstore in Portland, got back to Tacoma, watched a bunch of 24, had a party with 20 of Jen’s relatives, swung in a hammock for a couple of hours, played with some semi-tame cats, took some pictures, went on a couple of runs, saw family friends Pauline and 94 year old Opal (who is quite the poet theologian), went out to Katie Downes for some Mack and Jack and pizza, watched some more 24 and got packed to go. I managed three straight 8+ hours of sleep nights though – that’s about as much as I can ever ask for. Only a two day work week this week!

As for Steve’s race, they compressed the two heats (of which he was in the slow heat) into one heat an hour before the race. That heat went out fast, with Steve coming through the 1600 in 4:18. He, though still feeling in control, backed off a little since the pace was faster than he thought he should be running and ended up in no-man’s land. Since he’s stronger than most everyone, he proceeded to pick off everyone else in no man’s land, winning the no-man’s land championship, finishing 11th (ahead of everyone from his original heat) though finishing 15 seconds behind 10th. There were a few silver linings, and he learned a lesson or two – not bad all told.

I think Jenny’s done powdering her nose, so I’m headed back upstairs.

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Summer of 1995. I, having just completed 8th grade, am the proud new owner of perhaps my 8th CD – Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy. As was my custom, I listened to it maybe 10 straight times, indelibly imprinting every memory from that summer with that album.

I popped it in while I did my strength workout in the basement tonight. It punched me straight in the face, and really, it’s not even that epic. I remember, I remember everything.

Princeton Running Camp, the first (of two) running camps in my life. I’m there with the core of our budding Goshen empire, Brett and Tim. Tim and I are staying together in one dorm, Brett is in another. We were going to be big, we were young, but hungry, very very hungry. Our roommates did the milk challenge with chocolate milk. They threw matches at us, or maybe it was just at me. The alluring Sasha K, already the object of my young affection, threw tampons out of her dorm room. We ran a lot, I barely slept, I was tired.

That fall I was the top freshman in the county, by a country mile. But I wanted to make states, which was varsity only. In every font our PC had I wrote it, one line in each font. “I will make states”. “I will make states“. “I will make states“. Over and over again. I ate, slept, breathed making the state meet.

I made the state meet.

Today I lifted downstairs. I’ve been doing that since 8th grade. Not to get big, not to look chiseled; for one reason, my only reason, to be faster. To work until I was faster. To be faster faster, to make states, to win states, to win states.

I am a passionate person now living dispassionately. I can’t run. I lift for no reason other than to look strong, but who cares if I am, because why does it matter anymore anyway? I glare at the wall, I snare at the man in the mirror, I remember, I remember all of it, every minute, every step, every ounce of pain, pain etched in my face. But I try to block it all out, I repress it, I shove it into the corner, and pretend it’s OK, that everything is fine, that I don’t mind, that this is my new life and it’s just as good as my old life.

But I’m not fast enough. I was never fast enough. Make states, win states became “eric, be faster”. I’d walk down the hallway at work, fantasizing about being faster, just a little bit faster, faster when I needed it, just now, just faster.

I live in a dispassionate stupor. It’s not that I don’t have things to be passionate about – I do. But I’m not allowed and so I suppress it. Today I admitted to myself that not one thing in the world would phase me emotionally. I was unflappable, maybe I still am, maybe it was temporary, I don’t remember, not without Houses of the Holy running through my veins.

But in vino veritas. In testosterone, truth. I happen to like being held together by twine, thank you very much. The soul is passionate, this one at least.

Oh Lord, wake me up, break me free, let me loose, let me feel the oppression of a new set of passions and desires until that great day when this body awakens, whole and rebuilt. And fast. Faster.

Let the angels have their wings.

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On Thursday I was a little weaker than I should have been when lifting with Matt. On Friday, I was peeing too much (always a sign that my body is trying to flush something) and shivering occasionally. By Saturday I woke up feeling crappy.

Let the record show, I would drive 4 hrs in 90 degree heat with strep throat to cram into stands with the entire commonwealth of Jamaica just to watch Steve race for 4 minutes and just under 2 seconds.

I got home, felt a little better, woke up Sunday, felt awful, watched my fever yo-yo from 102 to nothing and back within hours and so on – still no symptoms but a sore throat. So yes, it’s strep. Steve was hoping for swine flu however.

Me (8:45:50 PM): fever and sore throat mostly
Stephen (8:45:53 PM): well you are obviously infected
Stephen (8:46:00 PM): im watching house as we speak
Me (8:46:02 PM): yeah
Me (8:46:04 PM): sweet
Stephen (8:46:09 PM): and i know that infection causes fever
Me (8:46:14 PM): sure
Stephen (8:46:30 PM): very few virus’ cause fever higher than 100
Me (8:46:38 PM): flu does
Stephen (8:46:48 PM): well thats the one that does
Stephen (8:46:58 PM): flu and swine flu
Stephen (8:47:03 PM): those are the 2
Stephen (8:47:45 PM): enjoy the fever though
Me (8:47:51 PM): heh
Stephen (8:48:04 PM): take some pills to make yourself hallucinate

But strep is a bacteria, and I’m on straight up Penicillin for the first time I can remember. This is only noteworthy because my mother is allergic to Penicillin – I tested negative as a kid, but we’ll see.

Anyway, out of work today, and now that I’m on anti-biotics you better believe I’ll be making the effort to get in there tomorrow. The question comes up – what does one do when he’s off from work yet not entirely with it cognitively? I think the answer is “shiver”.

By the way, it should be noted that Jen has done an excellent job taking care of me, stopping by for the afternoon after church yesterday just to be around, and swinging past once more around 10 at night to give me a damp face cloth and listen to me complain. We’re going to keep her around, yes we will.

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I went to NYC this past weekend with Jen and her friend from Oregon, bacon aficionado Dave Reed. We went to the Guggenheim, which made me want to slash funding to the arts, Lombardis, with their delicious pizza, and the always acceptable Gingerman. I got to see the first triumvirate of Katie, Bess and Lara (for times ranging between 20 minutes and two hours), as well as the oft rumored Mr Wendell. I slept for an hour and a half, lost 4 pounds despite eating until engorged, and continued failing in my attempts to locate someone who doesn’t adore Jen. We went to Redeemer in NYC to hear Tim Keller – who did not disappoint – preach, and neither got hit by cars nor hit anyone else with our car. By most measurable criteria it was a successful weekend, though I can’t think of any single story that came out of it.

Addendum
You’ll be happy to hear that The New Calvinism is being acknowledged even but Times as one of the new big things in the world today.

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[Ed. note: somehow I didn’t publish this last Thursday]
Last week I had an awkward man moment centered on the art of handshaking. Today’s is a little more graphic.

Here’s the scenario:
I’m at a urinal, finishing up.
Another guy is walking into the area, with enough time for me to leave and for he to take my spot without breaking stride.

He starts to prematurely prepare for peeing – presumably so that he can begin the moment he gets in front of the urinal. He, one would assume, has it planned such that he is never exposed, he’ll get to the urinal at the same time that he clears the path from his bladder to the toilet, as it were.

Once I notice that he is fumbling with his zipper etc, I can no longer look at him directly (this is an unwritten rule that is nonetheless chiseled in stone), I need to rely on peripheral vision to exit the urinal area. The only problem is, he assumed I’d take the inside route, while I assumed he would too. I pulled toward the outside, not having his eyes to read to clue me in of his intention. He tried the same. We did a little “you go, no you go” dance, before he went (I never change my plan in doorway/stop sign/urinal traffic situations, it’s easier to assume that the other person will always yield to my intentions). Problem was, it delayed him by a half a second. I imagine it threw off his entire zipper strategy.

In most cases, I condone the pre-pee prep prior to arrival at the urinal. I especially don’t approve of it when it leads to my getting peed on at a movie theater, but that’s an entirely different story.

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The Martins have a blogroll running down the sidebar of their page. Whenever I see myself sliding down due to inactivity, I feel a twinge of guilt. I’m supposed to be the consistent one. Though everyone else waits 4 weeks (or 4-6 months) between posts; I’m supposed to be there, holding down the fort, resolute and unflappable.

Alas, I too am wavering. It’s not that I have anything better to do – I suppose I do have better things to do, but that’s not the point. It takes me 6 minutes to write one of these. I have six minutes. So do you. We both have more than that, in fact, you probably spend that long checking this page to see if I’ve updated it.

The problem is not time, it’s topics. My thoughts have been diverted to other spigots. I have a finite number of them, and, well, apparently I have better things to do with my limited brainpower. The fact that I can’t/don’t want to write about the things that absorb my time more these days doesn’t help.

Maybe it won’t last. I haven’t edited pictures in a month either, and that includes the Christmas village pictures. It’s a little sad.

But not really.

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