frogg files

"She could never be a saint, but she thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quick." --Flannery O' Connor

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Run, Frogg, Run

So let's see, kind of a lot has happened since my last post. Let me explain... no, there is too much! Let me sum up:

Arrived on Saturday, October 20, in Oakland, and got picked up by M for lunch. After that, we went to SF MOMA with S, ostensibly to act cultured and high-brow, but really to give S a chance to make fun of modern art and amuse himself (and me) with frequent expressions of amazement that certain pieces of art could, in fact, be called art. (His favorite: a purely blank white canvas. That was definitely the winner of the "why is this in a museum" award, though a close runner-up would be the series of black squares in frames.)

While we were still meandering through the museum, the cowgirl arrived in the city, but she refused to join us at the price of $12.50 for a ticket that she would only benefit from for about an hour, since we had to get to Union Square to pick up our race packets. Instead she fell asleep on the lawn of Yerba Buena park/gardens, across the street from the MOMA. When we finally went out to meet her, I made the grave mistake of thinking that a homeless man (!) was her. Thankfully I saw the real her before I plopped down jovially on the grass and threw my arms around the man. Whew!

The rest of the day was all about picking up our packets, finding the friend's place where we were crashing for the night, carving pumpkins, and going to bed early so that we could be up before sunrise the next day, which was...

RACE DAY!

I slept in my race clothes because I didn't want to waste valuable sleeping time by having to get up to dress in the morning. This turned out to be not that good an idea, because my spandex capris got all stretched out. But at least I had those few precious extra minutes of sleep!

It was pretty cold waiting at the start line in Union Square, seeing as how the sun wasn't up and all. But once we got going, I could tell it would be a rare day in San Francisco; i.e., NOT FOGGY! Instead it was a truly gorgeous, clear day, not too hot but (eventually) not cold) — perfect for running. The race route wound along the Embarcadero, out to Chrissy Field, where we had excellent view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Then inland a bit, before heading down toward Baker Beach and into Golden Gate Park and back out again to finish.

I really enjoyed the run, and came across the finish line with a time of just under 2.5 hours. Woo-hoo! And I beat the cowgirl, but I think only because she got a blister early on and slowed to a walk after the first four miles (even so, she was only 40 minutes behind me).

So that was that. The next day, the cowgirl dropped me off at the BART station, where I caught the train to the airport and my plane... just in time to head back to a southern California that seemed to be going up in flames.

Craziness.

The next few days I spent staring out my window at work at a sky that was covered in smoke. My uncle and his family nearly had to evacuate; meanwhile my brother in San Diego was fine, except for the fact that he spent his day off trying to get CLOSER to the fires, which would indicate some possible mental-health issues... or else just the fact that he is a boy, I guess.

But anyway, thank God the fires are mostly contained now, and now here I am in the midst of packing for my next trip out to Louisville, where I will embark on my third semester in my creative writing program. I leave on Thursday, and if you don't know by now that I am waiting til the last minute to get everything done that I need to, you are clearly new to this blog.

(Of course, I suppose I could have spent the past hour catching up on all the reading I am behind on, etc., instead of blogging. Too bad I didn't think of that about an hour ago, huh. Oh well.)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Slow and Steady Finishes the Race...We Hope!

Well, the big day is nearly here... on Sunday I'll be running in the Nike Women's Half-Marathon in San Francisco! At least, I hope I'll be running. The other night I strained a muscle in my left leg. Then the following evening, I ran on it again, thinking that maybe the muscle just needed to be loosened up, and that it would be no big deal. This turned out to be a mistake.

Yes, I do make them occasionally. But don't tell anyone.

Anyway, the point being, I've spent most of last night and lots of time today icing my leg, and I'll probably have to wrap it when I do the actual race on Sunday, but I think I'll be OK. I was never trying to break any time records, so even if I have to walk some of it, I don't care. (That is kind of a lie.) I just want to finish. (That's true.)

By the way, my sister the cowgirl is going to join me on this little adventure. And she is going to try to run the race even though she hasn't trained at all. I'd give her a hard time about how unwise that is, but unfortunately, she is only planning to do exactly what I did do two years ago. So what can I say, except: "You go, cowgirl!" Who knows, she might even beat me. She's pretty tough. I guess it goes with the whole cowgirl territory.

Uh-oh, look at the time! It's after midnight... better hop off to bed before I turn into a princess! Er, wait, wrong fairytale. I mean I have to go to bed so I can wake up early enough to catch my morning flight to San Francisco!

Have a great weekend, and until I return... miss me, my darlings.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

The Sweet Taste of Good Fortune...

... cookies. Mmmm!

Yes, I admit it. I am a sucker for fortune cookies. Seriously, I am. I love breaking them, and I love eating them. But most of all, I love the idea that a little piece of paper inside a crispy, crunchy, hollow micro-dessert could crack open doors of destiny heretofore unimagined.

For example, here was a delectable bit of prophecy from the other day: "Soon you will be sitting on top of the world." That sounds pretty good! Of course, at the moment, I'm still sitting in my little cube on a middle floor in a nondescript building in Los Angeles, but maybe "on top of the world" is metaphorical. Either way, I suppose I have something to look forward to. Woo-hoo! A little hope brings a lot of good to the soul.

Hey, that last sentence sounded like a fortune! Do I sense a new career opening ahead of me, as a fortune-cookie fortune writer? It would put my writing skills to work, that's for sure. Whether it would pay for the expensive writing degree that I'm currently working on is another matter. So let's turn to the fortune I got today, thanks to a co-worker who ordered Chinese for lunch and does not apparently share my love of these remarkable treats. Perhaps I'll find some wisdom to guide me:

"You will bring sunshine into someone's life."

Hmm. Not exactly explanatory of my future financial security. But hopefully this one is true...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Other times...

...I wonder what on earth gets into me (see last post).

Well, I am feeling much less pensive and wistful today. Perhaps it's because I had a good hearty laugh this morning as I listened to the news on NPR. And if you think there isn't much to laugh about on the news these days, you obviously didn't tune in to hear Bush's quotes on the current Turkey crisis (OK, maybe it isn't quite a crisis yet, but the phrase "Turkey crisis" is kind of cracking me up right now—makes me think of what you might call a Thanksgiving dinner prepared by yours truly, but that would definitely be a subject for another post).

Anyway, Bush's remarks were hysterical. Unfortunately, I cannot remember them verbatim, BUT... they included the word "diplomacy" (I'm laughing again) and a vaguely expressed desire that it should actually be utilized before rushing into rash action.

Oh, Bush... what a comedian. It is too, too bad he missed his calling.

Really.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sometimes...

Sometimes the places I've traveled come back to haunt me.

Perhaps I shouldn't say "haunt", though. That implies a negative sensation, and I don't mean that at all. It's more like... being overtaken by a sudden conviction that I belong somewhere else. But where that is, I don't really know.

The other night, for example, as I was out jogging, I suddenly caught the scent of woodsmoke on the air (which is just starting to get the edge of a chill), and in that moment I was back in New Zealand, in the little town of Oxford where I lived about five years ago. I used to go for walks in the afternoon or early evenings; it was often cold and always quiet. As I thought of it, I felt a real pang, almost like homesickness. In my mind I could clearly see the line of trees that stand along a dirt road that branched off of one street. I loved walking between those trees. I remember the name of the road started with an "S", but it bothers me that I can't remember the rest.

Then there are times when I want to go somewhere—a certain restaurant maybe, or a store or a hiking spot—and I will realize with a sting of disappointment that the place I'm thinking of is in Berkeley (the Crepe Vine), or San Francisco (Golden Gate Park), Walnut Creek (Shell Ridge), or Christchurch (an AWESOME Thai restaurant), or Bangkok (um, LOTS of awesome Thai restaurants). Someplace that is miles and miles away, well beyond my LA horizon. It can be a little unsettling.

Sigh... Sometimes I just feel very far from home.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Life...It's Full of Suprises...

...some of which I could really do without.

Take this morning, just as an example. I got up thinking it would be a routine Saturday; nothing special. But of course that was before I went to leave for my piano lesson and nearly ran into a giant spider web, WITH the giant hairy spider in the middle of it. Which might not have been odd in and of itself, since spiders abound in my neck of suburbia. But it turned out to be pretty odd, because the spider web was not stretched out between a couple of trees, or from the porch railing to the roof, or anywhere else that might have made some sense. Instead, the spider web, with, let me remind you, the spider as well, was located inside my car, spread out across the driver side door. Which, again, might not have been odd — except the door had been closed all night, and so had the window.

Cue Twilight Zone music.

I am hoping that this bizaare incident is not a harbinger (I love that word) of... well, of anything that would involve more spiders. Because I hate them. Spiders, I mean, not harbingers. Wait, hang on a sec...

OK, I'm back. I just had to look up "harbinger" and make sure it meant what I thought it did. Thankfully, it does.

So yeah, the day got off to a weird start, but I'm an optimist. Instead of seeing the car as being half-invaded, I see it as being... um, I don't know, half-free of any more spiders?

Hmm, that doesn't seem to be as optimistic as I would have liked. Oh well, I tried. For once.

So anyway, I'd like to say there's a moral to this story, but I can't think what it might be. If you think of one, let me know. In the meantime, have a great weekend!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Speaking of Stuff

Well, I'm in the home stretch of my second semester in the MFA program, and I am more than ready to cross the finish line and be done with it. Though I won't get much of a breather—round #3 starts up November 2. That means that in less than a month I'll be hopping on a plane back to Louisville and heading into my last year of the program. Yeeha.

Speaking of finish lines, I'll be heading up to San Francisco in a couple of weeks for the Nike Women's Half Marathon. I can't believe I'm about to say what I'm about to say, but here goes—I am looking forward to it. Yes! I have actually started to enjoy running. Which is pretty ironic, seeing as how when I was in high school, I could barely do a quarter mile lap without feeling like I was going to faint. As for a whole mile... forget it. Death almost seemed preferable.

So I'm somewhat bemused by this strange person I have become, who runs several times a week (on purpose!!) and who on Saturday logged somewhere between 9 and 11 miles before 10am. I am a little worried that maybe I've gone insane, but then I think, who cares... I fit into a size 2 pair of jeans!

In other words, I may be crazy, but at least I look good. Hmmm. Priorities, priorities!

Speaking of priorities, mine are a little messed up right now (I mean aside from my sanity vs. vanity issue). See, I'm supposed to be revising some short stories I've written for my last writing packet of the semester. I should be intently and single-mindedly focused on that task. Instead, I am writing this oh-so-informative blog while chatting with a friend online, drinking tea, eating chocolate, and thinking about all kinds of things, like the fact that this post is actually pretty lame, and I wonder why I'm not as funny as I used to be on this blog, except maybe it's just me who thought I was funny and the real truth is that I was, and am, the exact OPPOSITE of funny, which could explain a lot of things, like why I'm still single for example, but whoa let's not go down that road, instead let's remind myself that I have to take my car in to get it smogged before Wednesday because Wednesday my registration is due and why oh why did I wait til the last minute to get that done, well of course it's because I wait til the last minute for EVERYthing, which I would not be surprised to learn is probably yet another reason I'm still single, dang it there's that ROAD again, argh,Ineedmoresleep...

*deep breath*

Speaking of sleep, I think I'm going to go get some now. Apparently I need it. Goodnight!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Call Off the Search Party...

Yes, I know. I am a terrible person. Or at least, a terrible blogger. Here I am, back from Colorado for more than a week, and I still haven't updated my files with the story of that amazingly fun adventure. Many apologies to my oh-so-patient readers (or reader, as the case may very well be by now).

Well, my memory ain't what it used to be — I did, after all, turn 32 this year — but let's see if I can recall some of the highlights:

1) The uneventful plane ride to Denver. "Uneventful" and "plane ride" are words that go well together, I always say. However, just before I disembarked the aircraft, I unaccountably and shockingly found myself giving my phone number to a man who runs a sort of Hooters-on-wheels hot-dog vending business. This was not really eventful, but it was kind of unfortunate. Just don't even ask.

2) Watching the Macguyver family (with whom I was camping) build an entire kitchen out of trees that they cut down in the forest. With the chainsaw they just happened to bring. Along with drills, nails and an axe. Did I mention that the kitchen featured a pot rack, a spice rack, and a working burner? Well, now I have. Here's a pic:



But, you say, I don't see any burner. Allow me:



Speaking of the kitchen, I should add that we ate very well on this trip. Shrimp fettucine alfredo and grilled salmon were just two of the extraordinary culinary delights we sampled during our exile from civilization. Yeah, roughing it is sure tough...

4) Our location was in itself a pretty huge highlight. Check it out:



Not bad, eh? Or how about this:



And last but not least:



Yep, that's yours truly (see, I do exist!) enjoying the rare feeling of being very small in a very vast, beautiful space. Los Angeles does not afford many opportunties to feel like this, believe me.

3) Seeing a bear and her cub while on a hike by myself in the hills near our campsite. This could have been slightly less of a highlight, if the bears had been closer. Or hungrier. As it was, they were close enough (about 20 yards). Thankfully, they were also running in the opposite direction from me. Whew! Later, when I got back down the trail, I saw the skeletal remains of some large animal; namely, its spinal cord and several broken ribs. Not really the sort of thing you want to see when you've left a couple of bears behind you... yikes!

4) Exploring the roads and trails on four-wheelers. Look:



I actually learned to drive one of these things, but only after I crashed into a tree. That was partly my friend M's fault though. When he was going over the mechanics of riding the ATV, he neglected to mention one important detail: the location of the brakes. Oh well. At least I was going reeeeaaaaalllly slow at the time.

5) Watching "The Others" on the laptop that M brought (!). Nothing like watching a semi-scary movie at night while camping out in the woods with miles between you and the nearest anything. ("Anything" being a rustic bed-and-breakfast at a hot springs, about half an hour's drive away.)

6) Racing a pronghorn on the ATV (and no, that time I wasn't driving).

7) Playing basketball in the pool at the aforementioned bed-and-breakfast. Yes, I said in the pool. This made the game interesting, to say the least. Oh and did I mention that the water (heated by the aforementioned hot springs) was about 95 degrees Fahrenheit? Talk about a workout. Also, for the record, my team lost. Boo.

Hey by the way, aren't you proud of me for taking pictures? Well, guess what... you shouldn't be. I didn't take a single one; all of these I stole off of my friends' website, where they posted pics they had taken. Their loss is your gain. Or something.

So, there you have it. Good times, good food, good friends. And here I am, looking forward to the next time:

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