"Beauty confronts us with the requirement that we place ourselves among...the redeemers, the leaders in the protection of life. Once you have seen the bush on fire, you are not going to get out of the assignment unless you close your eyes to the beauty.... [You] either have to close your eyes or go back to Egypt and set the people free." - Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker, "Rising to the Challenge of Our Times"

Sunday, October 25, 2009

eat and / or be eaten

This is a wonderful concept of broad application - nature and the food chain; a zombie attack; and if, say, Jonah of Biblical fame had enjoyed sushi. Unfortunately for the 'big fish' [NOT a whale, they always insisted in Sunday School, because as we all know, whales have TEENY TINY throat openings by which they filter their krill, so a whale could not have possibly swallowed Jonah, and it's very important to apply Occam's Razor-sharp rational thought processes to Bible stories because so many readers of the Bible have a seriously impaired grasp of metaphor. In fact, Jonah made his home in the abdomen of an Ichthyosaur like the 40-foot long fossil in Nevada, off I-50 - the "Loneliest Road in America." I've been wanting to go see for a long time. Oh - but that can't be, I just read on Wikipedia that the Ichthyosaurus was not actually a fish. If God had wanted the story to say that Jonah was gulped down whole by a giant marine reptile, that's what it would have said. Never mind.]

As I was saying, unfortunately for the big fish Jonah was indigestible and caused it acute gastric distress.

I still love this fish story though. I've acted it out now and again...the longer you avoid things you really have to do, the more your life conspires to make you do them, to a degree that can feel a little dark and cramped. I've evaded / avoided / excused myself from some work it seems I really need to do, for whatever reason. So now I find myself single with a social life consisting primarily of a dog, a cat, Facebook, some emails, and a phone call now and then, and I'm totally frigging broke, and the market for jobs that might help that problem is a bit...tight, let's say.

National Novel Writing Month begins in one week. I've never wanted so much to avoid doing something I so much want to do. Because because because because because. I have no narrative! I have no outline! I don't know who the people are! Don't you have to know these things? What if I manage to write every day for 30 days, and end up with random pieces of 30 different stories? What if I lose all control over the process and become really deranged, like Colonel Kurtz in "Apocalypse Now?" Or the guy from "The Wall" who smashes everything in the hotel room and spells words on the carpet with the fragments?

Okay, it probably won't be quite that bad. The worst I can imagine is that I might be driven to holler and cuss. This is the girl who, in high school, was too self-conscious even to yell during football games. I've come a long way. Trust me on that one.

"NaNoWriMo," if I manage to participate, will not fix anything, but it would be a reasonable use of the opportunities currently presented. I don't know about Jonah but I do love sushi. How do you eat a very big fish? One slice at a time, with wasabi. Doesn't get any fresher than this.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Greased Lightnin'

I decided to take Ripley on the 3-mile jogging loop this morning, so we could both get our exercise in. When Rip decides she wants to go in a particular direction, she can go very fast, but we don't always agree about the direction. When this happens it gives the appearance that I'm strangling my poor little dog by selfishly trying to run with her dragging behind when her stubby legs can't keep up with me. Ha. So with that in mind I don't generally expect our runs together to break any speed records. When I'm on the path in the park I tend to keep her on a leash because she hasn't quite learned to move aside for bicycles - actually she seems inclined to deliberately obstruct them, if it's up to her. For running I use a leash that clips to my waist, for better balance. And sometimes a pull into town.

This morning there was a little bit of disagreement, early in the run, due to some interesting activity happening on the path behind us. Ripley doesn't like having other dogs behind her, must be a herding thing. But then she decided that her interests lay ahead and took off. She was pulling me along at probably at least a 7:30 / mile clip for a good hundred yards or so, then we finally slowed down a little. Finished 3 miles in 26:53, averaging an 8:52 / mile pace. Not bad for a short dog!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

So many books, so much time

My Zen teacher / friend Lin Jensen is giving a talk and reading from his books next Saturday. It just occurred to me that although I'm familiar with selections from his books, because he shares from them occasionally in his weekly talks at the Chico Zen Sangha (which meets upstairs at Trinity United Methodist Church every Wednesday night, a true interfaith experience), I've not yet read any of them all the way through. I'm such a fan of Lin and his writing, and the Sangha has been so helpful for me, that this seems a rather glaring omission. I guess it's time to go pay my fines at the library and work on remedying this lapse. I have an old pattern of going to the library, getting very excited about several books that I'm sure will be utterly life-changing or will prop up my literary ego in some way, bringing them home, reading parts of some of them (maybe) and keeping them until they're all overdue. Still, it's much cheaper to do this at a library than at a bookstore. I think I owe the Butte County Library about $5.00 right now.

Audio books have helped a lot. I churn through those pretty fast. Our local library has a limited selection of books on CD, but when I discovered Audible.com it broadened the horizons enormously. Unfortunately Lin's books haven't made it to Audible yet.  I'll have to sit down and read, and not try to do two or three things at once. Psh. It's a buddhist conspiracy.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Payin' the cost to be the boss

I'm sitting on the couch at my friend Lisa's house with an ice pack on my knee(s) (sounds like a song, doesn't it?) but I just looked up the results from the "H.O.T. Half," (Hooker Oak Trail Half Marathon) that I ran this morning in Upper Bidwell Park - a gorgeous day, cool enough that I never got too uncomfortable in my long sleeve shirt. I say "ran," but that included some brisk hiking up steep parts of the trail, mincing down steep parts of the trail, and a lot of hopping around between rocks. There was also one point in the middle when I stopped for a few seconds because I felt like I was going to barf. I didn't. Just needed to stop for a second, apparently.

Anyway, I looked up the race results a little while ago only to discover that I took 1st in my division! I guess I should have stuck around for the awards ceremony. Good thing I'm still in my 30's, the competition among 40 - 49-year-olds was a little stiffer. Something to look forward to. I think somebody was taking official race photos so I hope there might be something to post later...it was so beautiful in the park, but it was no barefoot stroll. Knowing I'd be spending a few hours driving later in the day I took advantage of the free sports chiropractic / massage they offered after the race. I see that this (professional help) is something that needs to be a regular component of my training program. He fixed my sore lower back right up and showed me how to work on my very tight iliotibial (I.T.) bands with a foam roller. "Foam" implies something much softer than this felt. I did this for awhile, determined not to give up any more information than my name, rank and serial number.

The little Nike cartoon in the sidebar is reporting that my run was 14.6 miles, not 13.1. Maybe that's due to all the rock hopping and weaving around, and the hiking up and the tiny steps down. Or maybe it just gives me bonus points for trail running. So much more fun than the boring old road, so much more demanding of focus. I still had a soundtrack in my head though. Early in the run when I was feeling quite energized and hot to attack it was Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries...later it was the climactic passages of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, though I couldn't tell if I was feeling Russian or French. Later still it was Pink Floyd's "Run Like Hell." Maybe my brain thought singing songs from "The Wall" would help me avoid hitting it.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

"She was the single artificer of the world in which she sang"

Yesterday was the birthday of Wallace Stevens, one of my all-time favorite poets, who happened to have been a lawyer, and subsequently vice-president of an insurance company, and whose life was "quiet and uneventful" according to poets.org. And to be fair, he does sound a bit like you'd expect an insurance lawyer to sound when he reads, but The Idea of Order at Key West is not something you can skim quickly and hope to get, so the pace is probably helpful. It has unfolded for me over a period of almost 20 years. There are still things in it that I can't quite get my head around - they make sense on a level that I don't know how to explain, and the language is stunning, as if events are happening in a world that resembles ours but isn't, quite. Maybe getting ones head around it is not so important.

I can't think of Wallace Stevens without feeling gratitude for the person who really introduced me to him and who gave me the volume I have of his collected works, probably circa 1991 or thereabouts...can't remember for sure. Thanks, Laurie.