Wednesday, February 4, 2015

I miss the mountains so much.  Can't think of much else today, it seems.

Friday, January 30, 2015


I just stumbled across this poem by Ken Mikolowski and it immediately reminded me of the Beautiful Loop.

Little or Nothing

there are these trees.
and beyond these trees,
trees. and beyond that
little or nothing. little
fields and nothing but sky.

Ken Mikolowski, "Little or Nothing" from Big Enigmas. Copyright © 1991 by Ken Mikolowski. Reprinted by permission of Ken Mikolowski.

I've been absorbing a lot of his Big Enigmas collection via the music of Carlberg and the voice of Christine Correa. Yah, big surprise there, loyal readers will know that these two are a vast layer of the bedrock of my musical journey.

I love the the one that goes something like:

"we have always lived our lives / with a certain abandon / she said as she packed her bags / i am certain you will understand"...

But I hadn't seen Little or Nothing before. It's so bare bones, there's hardly anything to it at all -- and yet I experienced it an unmistakable cue for a place with a uniquely simple beauty.

Was at the g-y-m this morning and when I finished my stuff, Rosalea was still on the treadmill. I hopped on the one next to her to putz about for a few minutes while she was finishing a workout. We were chuckling at how you can select a scene to watch on the screen as you run. One was "nature trail". I didn't look at it... But anyway, Rosalea said something about how she's head of some marathoners using treadmill running to train their minds to tolerate boredom.

Everything about that scenario seems like desolation.

Great snowshoe run late last night in drifts deep enough to inspire contact laughter. Scout charged into them, not only without hesitation, but without snowshoes. At first we were just flomping through powder but then we connected with snowmo'ed areas and we basically were able to run.

I actually had a difficult time getting my heart rate up as soon as we were out of the drifts(?!). I was using mountaineering type snowshoes and their design does not exactly lend itself to rapid movement. I had to focus on turnover to make progress. Scout, in case you were wondering, outran me with inhuman lightness and apparent relative ease. Except for a couple really deep spots when she was suddenly up to at least her hip.

A very satisfactory moon and ring and stars were present but we had a lot of nature to manage. Piper was silky and wonderful and did not kill or injure herself or us. I survived class which involved rescuing some troubled mannequins. Checking a doll for responsiveness never gets old...

Also spent a lot of time trying to quell Raquel's rage when she didn't get the quiz grade she wanted. I like her and and grateful for proper company in a sea of anecdote-prone firefighting groupies. Note: yes, firefighters do amazing work, I just want the ones in my class to stop talking forever.

U on the AVPU. My poor patient...

Friday, January 23, 2015

Imagine a late night trail run.

I didn't have to imagine, but it could have existed on the same plane as my other imaginings.

Last night's run would fit in among all the strange dreams -- the ducks and the killer whale, softly languishing in the Charles River. The fire in the trees that raced toward Shen. Myself as someone else, standing in the middle of the uneasy ocean, at the end of a pier two miles long but an unnerving eleven inches wide.

Last night there was open water with jagged icy edges, ground that gave way, clawed tree branches that sought one's eyes out of the dark...  but it was all real. Maybe sometimes what we really need is for the environment to take us by the eyeballs and put us out onto the ice, where all the stars can see who we really are. 

Hi, my name is Unstrung and I have 753 facebook friends. There is only one who wants to run with me at 9:37pm on a weeknight through the icy forest and field, to explore new trails, to face potential wildlife and uncertainties of terrain and environment. I cannot imagine stating a number of miles that I might wish to run that would not at least get a, "Well, let's see how far we make it," if not a downright, "I'm game if you are."  This is the wonder of Scout.

On the way to Scoutland after a long-late class, in my trusty car that now goes clunk, I stumbled upon a radio station playing some really decent jazz. I listened for a while, guarded, expecting it would be bad. I was wrong - my jazz-ears came rushing back and I was happily immersed in form and phrasing, transcribing what little is allowed by my current atrophic level of perception.

The art of truly listening, globally, to a piece, while also truly understanding it -- being able to listen and know what it's doing artistically and technically, to hear the logic through which the current is being expressed, the context, the route chosen by the droplet that is the improviser -- is indeed a perishable skill. Mine is the most feeble flicker now, it seems, but it can still, for a moment, when fed, roar to life before it dies back down. 

I thought about how that was for a time, what sustained me. It was a gift to be reminded as I trundled up the Way of Mockingbird and gathered my spikes, my gps, my fleece layers, and my motivation to exist a little longer yet. Apparently it still does, in part.

The skunk was already leaving by the time we saw her. Orion looked farther away. The sky always glows a bloodied amber to the west. This morning, this afternoon, it can't seem to get up out of the pastels. I'm glad we are unable to medicate the sun when it does not, in our assessment, rise and set correctly.   

Do bats hibernate? Why does one person get squashed by a propane truck and not another? 

Sunday, January 18, 2015


A spontaneous inkling whispered Beautiful Loop to my granola-themed indecision that morning. Between shovelfuls I checked the weather: wind settling down late morning,and temps would stay in the teens.

Scout was game. I tried to remember how long Beautiful Loop usually takes.  4.5 hours?  5 hours? Scout reminded me that it is, of course, different every time.  You check how far you've gotten when you have used up half of your available time, and you either turn around, cut off on the BBU, or, on a really good day, you cross the river and keep going.

Conditions were some of the fastest and brightest and smoothest I've ever encountered. We traveled easily in spikes. Exclamations of near-shock were uttered at our relatively-fast (is what it is, but still!) pace and the blue-eyed sky. Even the rows of bleached and broken cornstalks were almost lurid, aligning in angular contrast with the other elements of the field.

It was our longest in a while at 15.2miles, 3 hours and 35 minutes. Maybe a record, for me. Strava said it was my "third fastest half marathon time" which I found amusing. Oh, Strava... 

The final third was a little softer underfoot and thus slower going. A couple of body parts were tiring but nobody suffered a MI on Lunchbreak so everything really went quite well. 

It is somehow such a relief to run long. And Beautiful Loop is all sacred. You never know what's going to happen out there. It feels remote and maybe a little dangerous. Lots of people don't know it's there or how to find it. You run it, and it feels like you've done what your deepest nature has always hoped you would. And sharing it, or, experiencing it shared-ly, is such a pleasure.

I'm excited that a piece of my writing has gotten published, not on this blog, but elsewhere. Been a while since I've set free anything other than a press release, it seems...  It isn't my finest and it's not a huge deal by any means, but I'm still grateful and a bit encouraged by it. It is a relentless etude I wrote about collagen and it's on which is like The Onion but for medical satire instead of just news. If you're feeling brave, here: Collagen Etude

School has started and I'm scrambling about as usual, signing up too late and selling contents of my closet to afford used and yet still outrageously overpriced textbooks. (Do I even have a closet?) Nothing we haven't already seen before. The torture of not knowing if I'm doing the right thing is a kindred spirit to nothing. It will not thrive in captivity but feed, it does. I believe it is the sort of thing that presents itself as directly connected to something I have done or haven't, or some decision. This is an inaccurate portrayal. I will be 84 and still meet the ravine (as it were) at the next wind in the trail.

Perhaps this is why I keep my eyes and lungs on the sunset at all times. And if the sun isn't setting at the moment, there is always Beautiful Loop.