Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Stepping Out

My whole body hurts.

I tried on my suit jacket in preparation for the Denver trip. I haven't touched it in months. When I pulled it on, I was surprised to find that it seemed to have a tighter fit than I remembered, which was physically impossible, I thought, because I've dropped two sizes in the last year.

It zipped up fine.

The problem was the shoulders.

Of course. Spend two or three days a week beating the shit out of something, and work with 30lb free weights five mornings a week, and you get broad in the shoulders. I was already broad in the shoulders.

Such irony. I've spent my whole life wishing I was smaller, and here I am, getting bigger, taking up more space.

I've been issued a company laptop, a corporate card. Rumor has it I'll be traveling to Dallas, New York, maybe Fresno this year. I'll be talking with my new boss about what they can offer me in Denver.

I'll be 25 next week.

I went jogging tonight. I'm not sure why, because I was prepared to pack all my jogging clothes for Denver (my hotel has a gym), but I was full of this nervous energy that I couldn't get rid of, so I pulled on my Hurley hoodie (I was so gleeful to find that "Hurley" was an actual clothing brand) and hit the pavement.

By the time I got to the park, the wind was up, coming in from over the lake, and it was snowing.

I picked a sport I like - boxing - that requires the one exercise I have hated the whole of my entire life with a blazing passion - jogging - in order to be in any way effective.

I hate jogging. I have always hated it. I can't say why. Maybe memories of those truly awful fitness days in PE when you all got clocked on doing your mile, and I always seemed to be lagging behind back there with the other fat kids. Mostly, I think, I didn't like the idea of running much because, well, I gained about 30lbs during puberty, and all of the sudden there was a lot more extra flesh to jiggle around and attract attention, and I hated drawing attention, because I never looked on any of it as good.

So for whatever reason, I hate jogging, but here I am, knowing I have to be up by 3:30am to catch my flight, knowing I should be sleeping, but too edgy to sit still.

I've learned to pace myself, which took awhile to figure out. Now, whenever I start moving too fast, I remind myself that it's better to feel like I'm trotting out the duration than to have to stop because I'm gasping. The breathing thing took forever to figure out, too. All from the diaphram. If you lose the breathing part, you're finished, and that's what I'm paying attention to the whole time, that and my music.

I'm just about to reach the place where I usually stop for my hundred-yard walk (usually my halfway and turn-around point), but there's a good song on (Snow Patrol: Run), and I keep going, and you know, just past where I usually stop, the path is way better lighted, and you know, there's some bike riders out here tonight, hey is that another female jogger? Hell, I'll keep going.

Past the skating park, cool, why aren't I tired? Another good song (Velvet Underground: These Days), put it on repeat, keep going.

I'm not sure why I'm not tired. It's like I've given my brain leave to gnaw on all the bullshit I've been tossing and turning about in bed, and it's taking the opportunity to hash it out while I run.

I'm worried about this job, worried about sticking with it, because I'm so damn terrified of sticking with anything for more than two years (yea, about the time it took for my last actual relastionship to go from blandly sour to freakshow. I'll be the first to bang that one on the head).

But what did I always want? A job where I got opportunities to travel, that gave me time to write (if I only work 6-9 months a year when projects are going, guess what I'm doing the rest of the time?), a job that paid off my student loans, because until I get out from under the burden of all this debt, I'm going to feel leashed.

I can see the tennis courts now, and I've mapped this route before. To the tennis courts and back is over 4 miles.

The snow's coming down thick now. My fingers are numb.

Train: Ordinary (repeat)

I jog past the tennis courts, take my 100 yard half-way point walk, turn around, and head back.

I'm facing more into the wind now, and the snow's like sleet against my face.

This is stupid. Why am I doing this?

I'm tired, but I can't stop now because to stop and walk means to frickin' freeze my ass off.

I just don't want to do this. I hate this. Skip, go back to Snow Patrol (repeat). Keep going.

The last mile and a half is a blistering bitch.

I tell myself I'll let myself walk at least under the tunnel. Just a breather, just a...

And I headed into the tunnel, and I realized there was no one waiting on the other side of it.

I told a buddy of mine once that I always felt like I was running away from something, and he said, "Are you sure you weren't running *toward* something?"

Maybe I am, maybe I'm not, but tonight, the only person behind me was me, the only person ahead of me was me.

I was running away from somebody I was, and running toward somebody I wanted to be.

I had this litany running through my head, "You've got three degrees. You've trekked 160 km into rural Africa. You've written eight books (no, they aren't very good, but I fucking finished them). You can run four miles. This is the last of your shit that you need to get together. Fit and strong. That's it. You'll be there."

I've been looking for somebody to fight my whole life, when the only person I've got to fight is myself.

But it's like once you start running, you can't stop.

For better or worse, I'm stuck with myself.

May as well be a better self.

But goddamn, it's a bitch to get there.

What I Got For Christmas

...from my buddy Stephanie was a notebook with this on the cover:

The best part about knowing somebody for over a decade is that they totally have you pegged. She apparently picked it up months ago, it seemed so appropriate.

I'm so easy.

Why Are You Here Reading This Instead of Trolling CNN?

Steve Gillard's got some cool thoughts up about the history of media, the reasons behind the collapse of the dot.coms, and the growing attraction of blogs.

My short answer: I like having a bigger sandbox, where the sand stretches into the sea.

The Blue Place

If, like me, you have a lot of trouble finding books with kick-ass female protagonists, I'm currently re-reading Nicola Griffith's crime thriller The Blue Place, and damn, I'd almost forgotten how good it is. If you don't mind that about two thirds of the way through, there's a short Norway travelogue, you'll love it.

How's this for an opening:

"An April night in Atlanta between thunderstoms: dark and warm and wet, sidewalks shiny with rain and slick with torn leaves and fallen azalea blossoms. Nearly midnight. I had been walking for over an hour, covering four or five miles. I wasn't tired. I wasn't sleepy.

You would think that my bad dreams would be of the first man I had killed, thirteen years ago. Or if not him, then maybe the teenager who had burned to death in front of me because I was to slow to get the man with the match. But no, when I turn out the lights at ten o'clock and can't keep still, can't even bear to sit down in my Lake Claire house, it's because I see again the first body I hadn't killed."

And you might learn a few things, too:

"It's the simplest thing. If you walk tight around a corner, you can be surprised by anyone who is waiting on the other side. It's like sitting with your back to the door, like chambering a round and leaving the safety off, wearing a dress that will restrict your legs, or walking with your hands in your pockets: stupid. But so many people do it. Every now and again I go into a school to teach self-defence classes to young women. I ask: How many of you know which way to look before crossing a busy street? and every single hand will go up. So then I ask: Who knows the fire drill? And most of the hands stay up. Even if I ask who knows CPR, or what to do if you smell gas, there are a lot of hands. But if I ask how many know how to walk around a corner properly - or escape a stranglehold, or find out if the man behind you really is following you - they lower their hands in confusion. Yet these are all sensible precautions. It's just that women are taught not to think about the danger they are often in, or how to prevent it. We're taught to feel fear, but not what to do about it."

Great stuff, there. Particularly that last line.

Busy Morning

Lots going on this morning, I'll have more later. Looks like we're going to sign for something in New York. I've never been to New York. Might be cool.

Off to Denver tomorrow, etc.

I'll have lots to say about this later. My first thought was to wonder if this was the same guy who was terrorizing my neighborhood a few months ago. He may have just switched beats. That's what ya get, fucker.