The RocketDog

The RocketDog

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Silent Forest

      "How silent the forest would be if no birds sang except those that sang best".  I've intended to sit down and write several times in the last month--each time, I've stopped before I even got started.  I've wondered if what I wanted to say was "interesting".  Was it "blog-worthy"?  Did I have enough to say?  Should I say it? I've always imagined any blog I would write would be more of a funny blog (intentionally, I mean--the 'we're laughing WITH you', not the laughing at me, heh).  Unfortunately, the best laid plans have pretty much guaranteed I haven't found much to laugh at lately.  Everything that's happened in the last couple do I make it all work together?  Typically, I just wait until I feel like I HAVE to get it all out--it seems to all come out coherently ( I hope).  Then today, while I was churning internally over events of late and out running, hoping it would work it's magic and straighten me out, I realized if I waited until I felt "good enough", I might never write anything at all.  After all, there's likely nothing I could possibly write about that not only has been written about before, but written a million times better than I could anyway.  The above quote immediately sprang to mind, and I realized I would never want my children to sit out and not take a chance because they were afraid of not being "good enough", and maybe I should walk the talk.  I said in the beginning I couldn't promise anything here except drivel, and I'm writing really to satisfy my own need to see my thoughts on paper instead of jumbled about in this crazy head anyway.  So where to begin with the last about honesty and what we choose to reveal about ourselves?
     The Internet.  How it has changed our lives.  We can now buy everything one would need to survive and have it delivered.  We can view anything past or present on YouTube.  We can  travel to places we've always wanted to visit via GoogleEarth.  We can even make and develop friendships thanks to Social Networking.  Ahhhhh......Social Networking.  The double-edged sword.  Some love it, some hate it, most fall somewhere in between.  There is most definitely good to be had; I have made some very real friends, that I feel lucky to have and hope some day I can meet them in person.  I've met some friends I've made on-line, and they were exactly what I thought they were.  And we felt like friends, because, well, because we were.   I've learned so much about running from my internet friends--practical, hard-won experience that I can apply to my own life.  There are dangers and pitfalls also to be had, though: especially if you're a teen.  I will forever be grateful that the computer age, while there, was NOT what it is today.  My mistakes will forever be confined to my own memory and that of my friends.  There was no record people could return to, enabling them to laugh and point and remind me of how idiotic, or how immature, or silly I was.  Teens are just that--teens.  Maturity only comes with time.  One of my favorite sayings, (one I repeat often to my own teens) is Wisdom comes from Experience and Experience comes from bad decisions.  When I think back to my own teenage years, while I was a good kid, I would venture to say that most of my decisions were not necessarily 'good'.  They were learning decisions.  I seemed to like to learn the hard way.  Sometimes it took more than one lesson, heh.  Unfortunately, a teen today who utilizes a social network, such as Facebook, may very well learn the hard way about leaving evidence of those bad decisions.  It has in no way helped ease the peer pressure--rather, it's increased it ten-fold.  Now there are "standards" to live up to--if you don't post pictures of yourself doing something fabulous, with fabulous people, in fabulous cars, you might be branded a boring loser.  People, kids especially, can basically choose to showcase select bits and pieces of themselves at just the right moments, implying a perfect life. Don't you wish you were as cool and popular as me?  So much so, that kids will "fake" posts.  Yes, they will lie to make themselves sound "cooler".  Now, this is not a new phenomenon, but whereas in the "old days", kids just bragged verbally, and with time things were forgotten (much to the relief of those same kids later), now things can be captured forever with a screenshot.  Their mistakes, true or manufactured, are there for everyone to see.  Forever. Their only hope lies in the fact that new ones, with new victims, are taking place every second, and a new escapade likely will eclipse theirs in a matter of hours. As the parent of three teenagers, I'm finding myself having to deal with things all parents have, but in an entirely different way than my parents did.  It is difficult to try to help your child embrace their singularity, to help them be who they want to be, who they are, while at the same time trying to explain the need for some individual privacy as well.  To try to explain which parts of their lives to keep private.  After all, we constantly tell them mistakes are ok if they learn from them, that everyone makes them, that even if they fall, they just need to get up.  Most of the time they don't even know who they are yet anyway--this is the life and purpose of a teen anyhow, right?  To grow, to change, to learn who they really are.  And learning by mistakes is practically the standard for teens.  But mistakes are something we want other people's kids to make, not our own, right?  Not there in public view for all to see, even the manufactured-for-coolness ones!
     Drama on the 'net is hardly restricted to teens, however.  As people learn to navigate the online world, it becomes painfully clear that it's extremely easy for people to misinterpret even the most innocent of posts.  "Vaguebooking" is a pointed insult, yet many people choose to do it, because they'd rather risk that label than risk having people misunderstand, or worse yet, berate them.  It isn't restricted to anonymous "friends", either.  It can happen with people in your actual, real, day-to-day life.  The one thing the 'net lacks, is tone.  And facial expression.  Without it, it's easy for people's own agendas or thoughts, or little purple dragons sitting on their shoulders to convey meanings that don't exist in one's posts.  It doesn't matter if you didn't intend for it to be taken that way, people remain convinced this is how you meant it.  But does that mean you should only post "safe" things?  Only  sunshine and unicorns pooping rainbows out of their butts?   What about the poignancy of real life?  I have actually lost friends to this.  Now, some may argue, were they real friends in the first place?  I thought so.  I suspect it was only the convenient avenue by which to end it.  There's a propensity to believe as an adult, you're immune to the trappings of friendship drama and hurt of high school--but are we really?  After all, relationships do run their course.  People can and do change.  I think it hurts just as much as it did then, because as adults, we typically invest more time in developing friendships that are close.  We tend to gravitate towards people that have similar interests as us, or at least similar schedules--we make friendships with people we see a lot.  But do we have to have exactly the same interests?  Exactly the same views?  Do we have to make the same choices?  Can friendships survive different lifestyles?  I always thought so.  Of course it's fun to engage in activities together--but it's also ok to me that friends of mine love swimming more than running.  Or couch-surfing more than hiking.  Whatever.  My main requirement of friendship, I guess, is in feeling like I have a hand to reach out to when I need it.  To be supported when things get tough--because it does get tough.  To laugh with--to enjoy good food and drink with--for me, it's how I survive the daily dose of crap I find deposited in my lap.   In return, I feel good supporting my friends.  Who doesn't feel good helping someone else?  It's not about judging their choices--god knows we all feel judged enough today.  What do you drive?  Where do you work?  You're letting your kid do what?  You're hitting the drive-through again? You bought/did not buy them what?  Please.  It's tough enough navigating this instant gratification world, this world where everyone's life seems to be perfect on Facebook but your own--but doing it without the support of friends is excruciating.  It's enough to tempt one to just shut up and stop taking risks in revealing who you are; what you're happy about; even the most innocent posts or thoughts may be spun into who-knows-what.  You might lose a friend.   And there's few things worse than actually reaching out for that hand and feeling only the cold, lonely dark.  With the possible exception of then grieving said hand, and realizing that you're likely the only one doing any grieving. 
     I heard of  someone today who is deathly ill, who was afraid of finding out what a lump in their breast was.  Their friend urged them to investigate--who pleaded, offered their support, but was turned away.  Now this individual is facing a dark battle but has their friend withdrawn their support, hurting and unwilling to be hurt more?  Of course not.  The risk of hurting because they may lose their friend is incomparable to the risk of hurting their friend by not offering them the unconditional love of friendship when they need it most.  They are not judging their choice--they are standing steadfast by their side in spite of it.  It would be easier to turn away, to abandon their friend--no friend, no risk of hurt.  Easy enough for all of us.  No Facebook (or social network of your choice), no opinions, no risk.  Everyone's happy and content, right?   But then I think of the little bird we lost last week: my daughter's parakeet.  Two years old, and according to that wealth of information called Google, I missed the signs of his illness until too late.  A happy, gregarious little bird who was not afraid to sing; who chattered and talked and filled our lives with a joy I didn't realize until it was too late.  Who has taught me with his death that a silent forest is not where I want to live.  Even if my rambling isn't the best--even if my posts are misinterpreted--even if my life is judged by others. That I too will venture out, if for no reason other than because a little bird told me to. And I hope it's to a forest filled with the songs of my friends.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Two Roads Diverged in a Wood, and I, I Chose.....

     Choices.  Endless choices.  Big, small, major, minor.  We're all faced with choices.  All day long, every day.  Do I sleep in?  Do I workout before work?  After work?  Do I want salad for lunch or eat out?  What shirt do I wear?  On and on and on...and these aren't even the big ones.  The important ones.  Lately I've been choosing to run in the evening, which has it's own set of pluses and minuses.  Gorgeous scenery, good weather--but darkness falls early; I might be exhausted; a kid or dog might need me; or even worse, a beer.  God knows the call of autumn beers is hard to resist.  Paired with beautiful weather, good friends who love to laugh, why in hell would I want to go home and run instead of to happy hour? But choose the road, I did.  At least tonight.
     My run started normally enough.  I had taken a week off after my last backpacking trip, not intentionally.  It just worked out that way.  That doesn't occur often, but I figure everything has a way of working out, and I believe occasional breaks are highly beneficial.  I only take them a few times a year, so when one presents itself, I don't sweat the small stuff.  Soon my thoughts turned from making sure all my reflective stuff was reflecting, to events of late--my choices to break from running, my food choices--oy vey!--my monetary choices--even my backpacking choices.  My thoughts seem to jimble and jumble every-which-way-but-loose on runs, but somehow by the end, they're all worked out.  As I turned onto the highway, I was treated to a stunning orange sunset.  Bright orange, with a turquoise sky.  Two of my favorite colors.  It was so spectacular, I had to really concentrate on staying on my side of the road.  It was reminiscent of the color explosions music makes for me--but that's another post.  Moments like this make me feel like I could run forever--but as I turned the corner, my knee suddenly begins throbbing.  This is a very busy corner, on a highway, so I was briefly distracted.  Then the sight of a full Snap Fitness, with happy looking people on machines, distracted me further.  I started thinking about the fact that they choose to work out inside, something I loathe and avoid at all costs.  They looked, well, happy.  No grimaces in sight.  THAT in turn started me thinking about how different we all are, and the proof is in our choices. 
     By now, the knee had turned into a full leg-throb.  From hip to foot, it was like someone suddenly stuck a wooden leg in place of my left one.  Except for this wooden leg could feel pain--burning, hot pain with every step.  I was two miles from home still.  This has happened to me before; the nearest explanation I have is arthritis.  If I'd BEEN closer to home, I may have walked.  Only once have I actually stopped and walked.  Which started my brain to thinking, "Why haven't I stopped and walked?"  What is it about me that finds the idea of stopping, when so clearly indicated, unthinkable?  I've been this way since childhood--stubborn, irresolute.  Unable to give up.  Detrimental at times.  This trait, --or choice?-- often spills over into other areas in my life.  (NOT that I argue.  I am NOT AT ALL ARGUMENTATIVE.)  Meanwhile, briefly, the sane part of my brain manages to interject with the fact that continuing to run might not be helpful since every step is so painful and I actually wonder for a split second if I've fractured something.  Most of the time, I choose to ignore things like this.  I ignore the fact that I can't or shouldn't do something.  It's how I deal with my arthritis, which has worked well for me.  It's how I dealt with my arm debacle of 2008-09.  I have several friends facing health battles, and heard of more today.  Diseases, incidents, accidents, all befall us; often we have no control at all over any of it.  Do we control our response?  Do we control our healing?  One can make the case for obvious scenarios, such as amputations, paralysis, etc...can we really control our outcome?  I know personally, not recovering full motion/full use of my arm was NOT an option.  Not discussable.  Absolutely N-O-T.  My arm was Coming Back.  I didn't care what any doctors said, what any physical therapists said; I only knew what I knew.  And that was that this was Going To Go AWAY.   In this case my trait--or choice to be stubborn--was beneficial, desirable, needed.
     What about accidents?  On our last backpacking trip, we knew the trail to Little Ibex Lake wasn't maintained anymore.  What we didn't know was that the USFS had bermed the road, dismantled the trail, basically hid any signs of it.  After two plus hours of packing around, looking for an old spur road, looking for signs of a trail, it was getting later and later.  We made the choice to change plans and pack in to St. Paul Lake instead.  Did we avoid a catastrophe?  Maybe.  If we'd continued on, and gotten lost, or far off the track, causing either a late return (by days, perhaps?) or even a "rescue", would our choice be responsible?  Such events are described after as "accidents" or "tragedies".  But would it have been?  Had we continued, without GPS, a good topo map of the entire area, late in the day, to a lake in an untravelled, remote area of the Cabinet Wilderness, wouldn't that be a "choice" to risk everything?
     Meanwhile, back In Reality: the leg is feeling slightly better.  I've picked up the pace just to make it home.  The thoughts about how we control, or do not control our lives in quite consuming.  I've recently learned new things about how we choose our friendships, our relationships. I mean, not really learned new things, but I guess I'm still surprised by the choices people are willing to make.  Or not willing to make.  The news that Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman are divorcing after 30 years reminds me that no matter how solid or stead we think our life is, we still make major choices all during it--or other people make them for us.  I've had friends "drop" me for choices I don't understand, or I feel are unnecessary.  But to them, they felt it was their only choice.  Or is it that they're letting fear make the choice?  The fear of losing something?  The fear of having to make ANOTHER choice?  People are shocked when they hear things like the Danny/Rhea divorce.  But I feel that's a brave choice.  I wonder if more people want to do things like this, but the fear of the unknown--the fear of change--makes the choice for them.  I don't ever want fear to make those choices.  I wonder if this is where our inherent personality, our genes, comes in.  Are we a person afraid of change?  Of choice?  It's my opinion that we are probably born with tendencies either way.  It's also my opinion we are capable of change.  Of learning.  Of freedom.  That's what choices are--freedom.  We are free to choose our lives, and we do.  We all do--one little choice at a time.   As I started up the hill to home, the leg worsened.  I figured if continuing to run had damaged it, a little farther and a little faster wouldn't probably hurt now.  I sprinted --heh, as much as I could muster-- my last little bit--I chose to run. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Beauty, Balls, and Bets

     This is a picture taken a couple years ago; but since I don't carry a phone on my runs, will have to suffice.  I'm actually not sure I could improve upon it.  This is my running route, and what I see every evening.  It's a perfect reflection of my running scene the last few weeks--that glorious late-evening-into-dusk light that only September brings.  Actually, the weather has been supreme as well--about 70 degrees when I start out, dropping slowly as I heat up.  And technically, at my house, it's probably a good 3-4 degrees cooler.  I'm still running in my tank top, which is wonderfully surprising this late in September.  The smoke from all the fires reveals the sunset in all it's true glory-- I realize many are affected by this; luckily, I am not, as the particles make for spectacular views.   I feel as if Mother Nature is making up for such a shitshow June.  It can linger as long as it wants; October is my favorite month, but I'm happy with a slow seduction instead of the usual slap-in-the-face-shut-up-and-sit-down Hello from Autumn.  
     The Pup is becoming a real running RocketDog.  I think he's truly starting to enjoy it, look forward to it, and even bug me if I dare to take a day off, or leave him at home.  The longest he's done is 6 miles.  I worried because his tongue was hanging way out, and he made me feel guilty that I hadn't brought any water.  Until we turned the corner to the last mile--a straight shot up the road, exactly one mile to home.  It ends with a nice steep grade the last quarter mile, and usually I sprint the last 30 yards or so.  It's still uphill, but my driveway is in sight and I always imagine this helps me build a bad-ass kick.  In reality, it's how I tore my hamstring in 2010, but why dally on minor details. Anyhow, Rocket starts fast, and I constantly have to remind him of the dangers of this type of training, (ah youth.  To have such innocent zest! ) but he settles into a nice groove after the first mile.  Until that last mile or mile and a half.  Then my feeling I'm Baroness Machiavelli turns into realizing I've been duped by the speed he suddenly manages to pull out.  I've said this before--if you want to improve your paces, get a German Shepherd Dog.  My last mile tonight: just for fun, I sped up to Rocket's pace. I have always been lucky at estimating my paces almost perfectly--this felt just slightly easier than my last 12k race pace.  Imagine my delight when upon reaching the driveway, hill included, I discovered I'd just run a very comfortable 7:01 mile.  I had to double check my time, actually do MATH (to those who know me, this is impressive) just to MAKE SURE.  Yup.  My previous race pace at 12k, which  I wasn't even sure I was at, was about 8:00 even.  Best coach I've ever had, with frizzy hair to match mine to boot.  Plus I get the added benefit of an intimidating bodyguard!  Double win! 
    This whole enjoyable Weather Event has made the continuing hits in the "failing appliance" dept more bearable to take.  Oven goes out to the tune of $400?  I'll just run tonight.  Dryer stops drying again, even though we just spent $150 on a part to fix it a month ago?  Wow...look at that sunset on tonight's run! This on top of the air conditioning, the fuel pump in the Rig, the Driver's Ed Sticker Shock, the college tuition for Hallie's Running Start (still cheaper than actually BEING in college I know) Oh, and lest we forget--Dog has two retained testicles, requiring expensive surgery and triple the recovery time?  Hey, but I'm running in 70 degree weather at 6:30 pm at the end of September!!  Which, by the way, also affects my backpacking and hiking plans, boo.  Rocket's Missing Balls will require neutering by ultrasound and a 3 week recovery time.  Sigh.  We have a backpacking trip planned in the next couple weeks, and I will die a miserable death if I can't hike with my second best friend in October---which means I'm facing a $500 surgery right at Christmas time.  Hey kids!  Come pet the dog!  Merry Christmas!  Maybe I'll wrap his wayward balls up!  
    And the last niggling niggle....the last backpacking trip, my boots showed their evil bitchy side.  My AT's, which after 2 long years of struggle, I'd finally managed to force into submission, roared back to life with renewed vigor and vow to ruin my running and hiking.  I suspect they're in cahoots with The Cowlick, which has also reappeared hell-bent on making up for lost time.  Double sigh.  So....the question begs:  do we chance the trip to the mysterious Ibex Lake, which entails a serious river fording but promises a hidden jewel of a lake, untouched by the hoardes of hikers, just waiting to reveal her pristine secrets--and risk my fickle ankles?  If I were a gambling man, I'd bet against it.  Anyone with any ounce of sense in their head would surely choose the obvious path of rest, ensuring the exruciatingly slow mileage buildup is not lost.  But whoever said I had any sense in my head?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I was born a Ramblin' Man

 Well, not really.  A Ramblin' tomboy is more like it.  My dad introduced me young to the pleasures and pains of wandering.  Pains, because when you're grounded, it's an ache that tends to find dangerous ways to relieve itself.  I've tried many over the last 25 years, and have found a few that can satisfy even when my thirst for adventure exceeds my water supply.   Running is one that has remained a steadfastly stout companion; fast, demanding, unrelenting, and requiring little to no mental effort, which is exactly how I like it.  Yes, go ahead and go there.  I always do.  

  Almost a year ago, I finally got my German Shepherd Dog.  Yup.  Dog is part of the name.  I've always wanted a purebred GSD.  When I was a kid, hanging out in a group of ne'er-do-wells in the neighborhood, some bigger ne'er-do-wells suddenly started beating the shit out of us.  Ok, not really.  They squirted us in the face with their neon squirt guns, leaning back on their ten-speeds and laughing their asses off.  The German Shepherd Dog who lived in the house we were at, Schatzy, came ripping out of the garage at a trot that guaranteed she was going to kick some ass and take names. Those boys couldn't have stopped laughing any faster than if they'd suddenly actually really been in Fast Times at Ridgemont High when Phoebe Cates walks out of the pool.  All that was left was the sight of them pedaling as fast as their scrawny legs could take them in a cloud of dust.  I knew right then and there, someday, a GSD would be my companion.  

  So since the advent of Facebook, I've become an attention whore.  Mostly with pictures of my ramblings and my RocketDog.  I decided to stop subjecting hapless innocents to my ramblings and loads of photos and go this route, where people can punish themselves with my drivel by their own choice.  I can't promise anything other than that--that this will most surely be filled with drivel.  Also, I'm not very tactful generally, I'm blunt, constantly told I'm arguementative and opinionated (who the Hell isn't?  Some people are just better at disguising it) but hey-- this is my fucking blog, right?  If I want to argue with myself, post a million pictures of the same thing, discuss my very blase and unremarkable running and random thoughts whilst running, so be it.  As mentioned before, it's one of the less dangerous ways to pacify my endless wanderlust.  I can't promise it will be funny, good, intelligent or even annoying.  Wait--maybe that last one. 

And with that, I'm going to go pour myself another two-fingers and listen to cry-in-my-glass-what-passes-for-country-music-today.