Wednesday, June 16, 2010

stuff i'm like totally into right now

Well, okay. It's been two weeks since I announced that I would deliver a blog post every week of this summer, meaning I've already broken my promise. Lame. I went to Portland for a week and I thought I'd post there, but I was too busy, like, hanging out in Portland, getting tattoos, piercing various parts of my face, and resuscitating my early 90s wardrobe...well, no. Fine. I didn't do any of those things. I did, however, go to Portland, where I did Portland-y things like run and hike in Forest Park, go to Powell's bookstore about a zillion times (that place is the MOTHERSHIP), ride lots of public transportation, eat at a different microbrewery every night, and in general soak up the joy of being in a city set in a location of magnificent natural beauty and run by liberals. We never would have been able to afford such a vacation were it solely on our own dime, but Eric had a conference for epidemiologist types going on there, and as soon as I heard that such a conference was occurring, in Portland, in June, I said, bring ME. And it coincided with our ninth anniversary, so that was nice.

So. Anyway. I'm going to make this blog entry into a list of stuff I like and am all into right now. That's all. Because that sounds fun to me. And I warn you that at least half of this list will probably be books. Because I am momentarily free of the professional obligation to read nothing but ethnography and theory and have been rampantly indulging my true passion, which loyal readers know is YA fantasy. And people, I have had some serious finds. Let us begin.

Stuff I'm Like Totally Into Right Now:

1. Sunshine by Robin McKinley. Here's what blows. That atrociously-written, anti-feminist, simultaneously sexually conservative and sexually perverse load of Twilight garbage is floating around out there making crockshits of money while a mindblowingly good vampire book like this one flies completely under the radar. And you know, I hate to make this all about Empowerment and Agency in Female Leads and other such preachy stuff from a Feminist Concerned about the Self-Esteem of Young Girls, but if you are sick of fantasy universes that are all about manly conflicts between males in which girls are helpful sidekicks at best and helpless pawns/victims at worst, please, oh please, read this. Sunshine (and yes, her name really is Sunshine—sort of) is not a Buffy-style heroine in the sense that she does a lot of warrior-type stuff; it's more about her learning to rely on other, more subtle gifts while at the same time having to call on tremendous courage and problem-solving in the face of extreme duress and, you know, evil vampires. And there is nothing cheesy or at all romantic about those vampires, although there is some weirdly sexy and seriously intense chemistry between Sunshine and the main vampire character, who does not look like Angel, Spike, any of the vampires from True Blood, Brad Pitt, Edward “Glitter Boy” Cullen, or any Sexy Pop Culture Vamps of recent history. In fact, his skin is described as “mushroom gray.” HOT.

And for your information, there is no such thing as “vegetarian” vampires. Vampires suck your blood. Deal with it.

Also? Get this. Sunshine is a young, unmarried female character in a young adult fantasy novel...and she has SEX. And? And? She doesn't feel guilty about it, receive horrific cosmic punishment for it, die horribly as a result of it, or embody a man-eating whore archetype! It's amazing! She wants it, she has it, it is regarded, in this fictional universe, as, well, normal! Wow! Try it, authors! You'll be amazed how much there is left to write about when you totally leave aside the need to punish female characters for having sex!

2. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. This is a novel that takes place seven generations after the zombie apocalypse. Yes, you read correctly. The word “zombie” is not used once. It is intensely creepy. It is extremely well-written. It has an amazing girl protagonist. It really forces you to think about how horrible it would be people you loved became the undead, and don't you think that sounds like a valuable moral exercise? I don't know, folks. I really didn't care one way or another about zombies, but then, I had never seen the whole zombie trope, if you will, used this effectively. And in a spare, understated way, there is a lot in there about cultural isolation and control over historical narratives and how the passing of generations transforms history into myth. It's good stuff. There's a sequel I need to read next.

3. Graceling by Kristin Cashore. This book is stunning. Here is the author's website. Read it.

And yet again: Unmarried female protagonist has sex and it is just fine! Also professes a strong desire to remain unmarried, as marriage in this society would greatly circumscribe her freedom! Her decisions are not portrayed as tragic or neurotic! Unbelievable, I say! (There are many, many other things to recommend this novel as well. Again, read it. Just trust me.)

I tell you, I've probably been on about this before, but it's hilarious to me that the fundy Christian crowd got its panties in such a bunch about Harry Potter when the young adult section is in fact packed with any number of books that are way, way, WAY more subversive and just fly conveniently under that particular radar. (That's not a diss on old Harry, by the way. I do still love Harry Potter, but as fantasy novels/series go, others are closer to my heart these days.)

4. Emily the Strange. I know, I know, Emily started out as skateboarder insignia or something and now it's a whole franchise where you can buy everything from hoodies to home d├ęcor to express Goth attitude by means of the image of a scowling black-haired girl in a black dress, with cats. Which should probably make me cynical. But the Emily novels, The Lost Days (in which Emily has amnesia) and Stranger and Stranger (in which Emily inadvertently duplicates herself and creates an evil twin) are incredibly clever and hard to put down. Also, I was a scowling dark-haired girl who wore lots of black and loved cats. I was not, alas, a genius mad scientist, unlike Emily, who is. But let's just say we have some style simpatico. Therefore I construct my identity in this consumerist society by doing things like sticking Emily the Strange stickers on my planner.

5. The ocean. We spent one night on the coast last week, in the slightly rinky-dink tourist-y coastal town of Seaside. It was cold and rained for part of the time. It was overcast. The town was nothing special. But we had an inn with an oceanfront view, and the sand was firm enough to go running by the ocean, and it was marvelous. I feel that, given decently comfortable weather, I would be pretty happy sitting on a beach and just watching and listening to the ocean all day. How can anyone help but to feel connected to the ocean, regardless of how landlocked your home may be? We're all descended from marine ancestors. We are residents of planet Earth, a planet of water. I can barely stand to think about what's happening in the Gulf.

6. Getting stronger arms. No, not firearms, silly. I didn't up and join the Tea Party or anything. I'm speaking of my own monkey appendages. When I was a teenager, I was self-conscious because my upper arms were—get this—literally smaller in circumference than my forearms. I have become stronger over the years, and lifted weights or done a few lame push-ups off and on, and when I was doing a lot of vinyasa yoga I was fairly ripped, but during the school year, while I maintained my running schedule, I slacked on the upper body stuff. And I felt it, too. My backpack tired out my shoulders; my upper body ached midway through long runs. Once the summer started I bought myself some heavier dumbbells and got serious. This past week in Portland I carried a messenger bag around all day every day and even ended up running with it at one point, and not once did I feel tired of carrying it. This may seem like nothing to many of you, but I always get muscle pains in my shoulders if I carry bags or purses for too long. It's great to be stronger. Also, though I don't much like to think about it, good for osteoporosis prevention. I have every freaking risk factor in the book for that stupid disease, so it's best I start applying myself now.

7. Arugula pesto. I really should just submit this post to the Stuff White People Like blog already and have done with it. I've already mentioned Portland, a massive bookstore that is still independent, hanging out by bodies of water, microbreweries, running, a fictional character designed specifically for marketing to ironic hipsters, yoga, environmental concern, and the fact that I am a graduate student. All of these things are integral to my racial identity.

Yes, I love arugula pesto. I pick the arugula from my own garden. I eat it with homemade foccacia or whole wheat pasta that I purchased at the natural foods co-op. I freeze it for future use. However, my olive oil is the generic Kroger brand (still extra virgin, of course). Does this make me just slightly less white? Or did my need to assure you that my olive oil is generic and yet extra virgin in fact make me doubly white?

(I have very mixed feelings about that whole blog/book/concept. I suppose that could be a post at some point.)

OK, enough for now. I must put on some outdoor performance clothing, gather some fresh greens for my lunch, which I will eat alongside some leftover hummus. Then I'll take in my recycling (all the while grumbling how my liberal town should have curbside recycling), and perhaps make a stop at the aforementioned natural foods co-op on the way home, as well as perhaps picking up a six-pack of beer which I will justify by telling myself that at least it's a local microbrew, which I will share with my husband, who has two last names. And I hope that you all feel bad for not going outside.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

I'm back.

A few months ago I was on the phone with my friend Tess, who is married to Animal of Cranial Flatulence. As we were getting ready to hang up, Tess called to Scott/Animal, “Anything you want to tell Steph?”

“Update your fucking blog,” I heard him holler.

I didn't at the time, because I was in the middle of a Hell Semester. Or it would have been a Hell Semester, were it not for the fact that I quite enjoyed most of it. I tell you, people, whatever its flaws, academia is the place for me, and I was probably crazy to ever think otherwise. I had about four years of feeling like absolute crap about my professional capabilities because I couldn't figure out what I wanted to do, where I could realistically seek employment, what to say when people asked me what my job was. Which you know, if you were reading this blog during any of that time. Then I entered a PhD program, started teaching again, started working on research, and suddenly, presto-change-o, I'm a person with professional skills that garner respect. And an insane schedule. Nothing confers self-esteem in this culture like the badge of professional busyness. That, of course, is shallow, but I don't mean to trivialize my sense that I'm at last on a career path that fits me.

I get really excited about the work that I do. I often enjoy teaching. (Anyone who says they always love teaching is probably lying. College teaching involves humiliation, difficult personal interactions, paperwork, and freshman males. I hate much of it, but the rewards are still remarkably tangible.) I loooove my research. I wish I could write more about these things, but I still have the same confidentiality concerns I had a year ago. If I could write a completely honest blog about teaching, it would be the most side-rippingly fucking hilarious thing ever. I could tell you about the time...and the time...and the guy who...and the other guy who...and that paper with the song lyrics...alas. It would really cathartic and fun, but I'm not going to make that mistake.

It's kind of strange to be sitting here at my kitchen table, writing this. Part of why I wasn't really able to keep up the blog during the school year was that I was writing so much already, in every working moment in which I wasn't teaching, planning my teaching, sitting in class, or reading. So in my spare time, insofar as I had any, I just wanted to be with Eric, cook good food, see friends, run, and veg out in front of Netflix. Consequently it's been a long time since I've written anything other than e-mails that doesn't contain words like “ontology” and “discourse.”

It's also been a long time since I've taken out the trash. I'm pretty sure it's my turn to do it. I can smell it right now.

As a partner in housekeeping, I really dropped the ball this year. Eric picked up a lot of my slack, but he also likes to relax after work, so things have built up somewhat. Every time that we have noticed that something is covered in disgusting filth in a way not befitting mature adults, I have defaulted to “once this semester's over, I'll take care of that.” And now Eric is hitting a hell stride at work, so I have resolved to undertake some of these projects on my own. I have been free for over a week now, and have accomplished these domestic tasks:

1. Went through my clothes and stuffed everything I no longer wear into a bag to go to the Goodwill.

2. Rinsed out approximately 200 empty, dirty cat food cans on the basement floor for recycling. Received several really nasty cuts on my right hand in the process.

3. Swept under the upstairs futon/couch. Wow.

Uh...hmm. I really thought I'd done more than that.

OK, here's what I still have to do:

1. Take the clothes to the Goodwill

2. Take the cat food cans to the recycling center

3. Take a lot of other things to the recycling center—like, oh, I don't know, maybe an entire closet's worth of things

4. Go through a shitload of old bills and papers that I currently can't get to because of the recycling

5. Organize the books and papers in my home office, after removing the veil of cat hair covering them

6. Remove veil of cat hair from entire house

7. Paint the bathroom which has remained unpainted since it was remodeled over a year ago

8. Remove forest of weeds and small trees from between the neighbor's deck and ours

9. Figure out what's going on with the upstairs toilet

10. Clean the basement

In addition to these things, I plan to go to Portland for a week, do a weekend workshop on oral history, run a half-marathon, do some archival research for my dissertation, attend a family wedding, hang out a bunch with friends, and read every piece of quality young adult fantasy fiction I can get my hands on. Also, update this blog at least once a week. That's a promise.

I know there are probably only about four or five people reading, but those of you who kept me in your feeds and blogrolls despite my bailing on you for over seven months, and then gently prodded me to take things up again over the summer, thank you, thank you, thank you. It really does mean a lot to me to know I still have loyal readers. And friends. I missed you all.

Stay tuned for news of my cats, my shin splints, and my lousy housekeeping. It's good to be back.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

i miss the blog.

I'm still alive. Really. I just have no idea when to post anymore.

I have thought vaguely that I should write a graceful end-it post and shut down this blog, because realistically, I don't have time to keep it up. I haven't even had time to investigate the privacy options on Blogger. But the thought of closing up shop makes me so sad, so I do nothing, and this blog just languishes. I miss it.

I love graduate school. It's incredibly consuming, as I knew it would be, but somehow that still managed to take me by surprise, a little bit. Still, there are definitely things I miss about the old life, like having time to read (I read constantly, but now it's all feminist and critical theory; no fiction for me for a while), having time to blog, and most of all, having unlimited friend time. I really miss that. And being able to e-mail Suze about five times a day. And being able to form a sentence that doesn't contain words like "agency" and "normative."

But honestly? There's a lot more that I don't miss. Like being home all day, every day, having to create the entire structure for my day by myself, the constant career insecurity (not that this doesn't flourish in grad school, but I'm too busy right now to entertain it much), the lack of explicit purpose, never having anywhere to go that requires a decent outfit. And I love what I'm studying. I just do.

There are some areas in which I am immovable, though. We still cook good dinners. I still veg in front of Netflix with knitting, though for less time. I still run. I figure if the schedule gets really tight, I'll just run faster.

I don't know. I can't close down the blog, at least not right now. I know only about five of you are reading at this point, but that's okay. I am, by the way, mostly keeping up with your blogs, generally in post-teaching Friday-afternoon binges, which make me happy. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Oh, dear readers. I’m sure the only ones of you still reading are the ones who subscribe to the feed. I’m sorry to be such a rotten blogger.

Suze told me that I don’t need to write big old long posts all the time and can just be short and sweet if I want. I fear getting stuck in the list format, but the time! Oh, the time! It just doesn’t exist anymore. If I am not in class, I’m reading, and if I’m not reading, I’m answering e-mails from students who may or may not have swine flu, and if I’m not answering e-mails, I’m trying to write book summaries, and if I’m not trying to write book summaries, I’m reading. And reading. And reading. Because, as I should have remembered about grad school in the humanities, they make you read a bloody library’s worth every week or so.

In spite of all that, I’m having a love affair with being back in school. I am especially having a love affair with my women/gender/sexuality studies class. (I’m planning to get a certification in that.) I forgot how much I love sitting in a room with smart and committed people talking about theory. I forgot how much I love being on a university campus.

I forgot how hard teaching kicks your ass.

I also forgot that graduate school requires a range of shoes. Or, perhaps I just interpret it that way. Perhaps I am a bit more hung up on shoes than I thought. I own very little ground between the sweaty running shoe area and the knee-high leather boot area. The sweaty running shoe area seems a little gross for a shared office, and the knee-high leather boot area, while conferring some hookey imagined mojo-type authority in the classroom (I am short and slightly built, ergo I compensate with footwear), is also, when paired with the occasional skirt, making me a little too popular with the bus driver. But I can never find basic flats that are, you know, me. I will look at a pair of flats on another women and think, those are lovely, I could wear those, and then I will try something like it on in the shoe store, and feel like an alien. I have to branch out before I turn into Boot Girl. The problem, of course, is that I am Boot Girl. I am not Loafer girl, or Tasteful Grown-up Mary Janes Girl. I have been Boot Girl since the Doc Marten days of the ‘90s. Boot Girl may have been in storage for the past few schleppy years, but Boot Girl lives. Also, Boot Girl has spent all her money on textbooks and a new laptop and has no remaining funds for new shoes unless she pawns her fawn-coloring leather riding boots, and you will pry those from Boot Girl’s cold, dead feet.

I’m not all that materialistic, really. I have this boot thing. That’s all. My clothes are from Goodwill. I even have some boots from Goodwill, but they make my toes go numb.

My gender studies course could probably have a heyday with that boot paragraph, but I’ll leave for the private recesses of SWJ. Which brings me to the privacy issue. As much as I respect the opinions of those who told me not to go private, I’ve also received some wise counsel from fellow academics who have encouraged me in that direction, and right now I think my plan is to just use Blogger’s privacy measures to limit readership of SWJ to those who have contacted me about it. But I haven’t figured out how that works yet, so for the time being, I’m doing jack, because I don’t have the energy to figure it out at the moment, and if I do manage to muster up some energy, I should probably spend it on reading this interminable book that I would so totally rant about if this blog were already private.

A wasp attacked me on Sunday; that’s my other big news. I was out at our compost bin, which is surround by a slight jungle, due to the fact that neither of us has bother about the pruning shears for a while, and suddenly there was a wasp on my hand. I thought it may have stung me, because it burned a bit, but as it turned out, that was just the warm-up, because after that it landed on my head and stayed up there, stinging me, while I whimpered like a frightened puppy. (I’m sorry. Don’t think about frightened puppies. It’s too upsetting.) Eric heard me through an open window upstairs and actually thought I was a dog. I crouched on the ground, trying not to move and freaking the hell out, until finally I realized that it was stinging the shit out of me anyway and there was nothing to be gained from letting it roost on my head indefinitely. I slapped at my head, trying to shoo it away, whereupon it stung me on the cheek.

Wasp stings on the cheek look sort of like cystic acne. I told Eric that it sucked that now everyone would think I just had a huge zit. He asked me why on earth it made any difference. I said that a zit just means you have bad skin, whereas a wasp sting means you have a story. He was not overly convinced. We both remained terrified of the compost.

That’s all for now, folks.

Friday, August 21, 2009


This'll be a short one, folks. I'm just checking in. In full-bore beginning-of-the semester mode, I am too frantic to come up with a real blog post, and having taught four back-to-back sections this morning and afternoon, too brain-dead. So some quick business:

1. I have not decided what to do about the blog privacy issue yet. Stay tuned. I'll figure it out. Thanks to everyone who has e-mailed me letting me know that you want to keep reading; I can't tell you how much I appreciate it. I'm sorry I haven't been able to respond to all of you personally. It's been that kind of a month. But all of your e-mails made me happy.

2. These are my kitties.

3. That's all, really. I wanted to have a number 3, but I don't have a number 3.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

back from vacation, and some blog changes

Hey, sorry for the long absence. I never seem to remember to mention when I’m going on vacation. We spent about ten days in Iowa and Wisconsin, and it was lovely, in spite of us both getting colds and schnotting up the homes of our gracious hosts. I washed my hands about a million times, but I still managed to inflict my illness on Suze’s kids, because really, what am I supposed to do, never pick up the baby? (Suze wrote about our visit here, with, as usual, more photographic evidence than I ever provide.)

Also, I learned that it is a bad idea to go running while under the influence of cold medicine, which I should never take anyway, because it is, essentially, speed, and my heart responds to the mere suggestion of ephedrine or caffeine by going like a racehorse. I went to the doctor not long ago because my heart was pounding and/or racing pretty frequently. This is not terribly out of the ordinary for me, and it isn’t the first time I’ve had it checked out, but it never comes to anything serious. After a normal EKG, multiple checks for mitral valve prolapse, and blood tests that proved I am neither anemic nor over-amped in the thyroid, we concluded that I am probably just going bonkers due to starting a PhD, and should probably stay away from caffeine and cold medicine. And I have barely noticed my pulse since then, which means I was probably going bonkers less because of the PhD and more because of the mere suggestion of the possibility that I was going bonkers, which will probably only make sense to you if you have ever had tachycardia issues.

But then I had to up and catch a cold. And I tried to stay away from the medicine sauce, I really did, but I was on vacation and sick of feeling like shit, so I succumbed. I felt better immediately, and decided to go on a run with Suze. A half-mile into it, I felt like a gerbil that had espresso injected into its jugular. Oops.

So if you ever meet me and happen to notice visible palpitations shaking my clothing, don’t flatter yourself that you make me nervous. It’s probably just the fumes coming off your skin from the Nyquil you took last night.

Let’s see, what other business? I set off a bit of a supernatural blogging trend when I wrote about the spooky river thing last month, here and here. So anyway, because everyone loves to have the piss scared out of them in the safety of their own homes, here is the Grand Assemblage of recent ghost blogs—and believe me, these are very engrossing and even creepier than mine:

Jessi: Here, here, and here,

Jenn: here, here,

and Strangeite: here.

Jenn also has several extremely powerful and affecting stories about the presence of her late sister interacting with her and her son. Bring Kleenex.

And finally, some blog business. As regular readers know, I’m about to start school again. Classes start next week, orientations are the day after tomorrow, and I’m already fretting over stuff like getting my student ID, which I was going to do this morning but didn’t because I decided I hate my hair. The point is, I’m going to get a lot busier than I have been for most of the life of this five-year-old blog. I have a teaching assistantship, a full course load, and a resolve to maintain a balanced home and personal life and continue eating right and sleeping and exercising. I’m a little nervous about keeping all this afloat, but I keep reminding myself that this isn’t like the last time I went to graduate school, back when I didn’t know a thing about balance.

All this doesn’t mean I want to stop blogging. But I think I’m going to have to change how I do it. I can’t imagine just shutting down shop at SWJ; if nothing else, I just like the people who comment here too much, and since I don’t know all of you personally, I’d completely lose touch with you if I stopped. So maybe you can help me out a bit, because I have two issues I’m trying to figure out, blog-wise:

1) There is no way I’ll be able to post with the same frequency as before. And it’s not like I’m a frequent poster to begin with; I probably average about one blog post per week. Less than one post per week and people tend to stop reading. And if people aren’t reading, frankly, I’m not interested. There’s a reason why I keep a blog and not a personal journal.

2) I don’t really want people in my academic life—people who don’t know me already, that is—to find this blog. I keep my full name out of here so as not to be too Google-able, but there are ways to figure out who I am, and I don’t know, I just don’t want to have to worry about that. It’s not that I write anything I’m ashamed of (at least, not usually). It’s just that I’ve written the majority of this blog during a time in my life in which I haven’t had huge concerns about the things I write here following me professionally. Plus I’m going to have students. And I have zero desire for my students to find out I’m a blogger or read any of this.

I’m kind of taking my cues from Feral Mom here, who, when she felt her public blog wasn’t serving her needs anymore, went underground, so to speak, and did an invitation-only sort of thing. (Which is why I’m not linking to her original blog here, although you can check out her new public venture.) I’m thinking about doing that. My fear, of course, is losing readers, some of whom may have never commented or identified themselves, who don’t want to go through the fuss of asking me for a special pass for the incredible privilege of reading my occasional posts. But at this point I’m starting to find that risk more palatable than the risks listed above.

So here’s what I think I’m going to do. I’m going to research my options in terms of having a private and/or password-protected blog. Anyone who has information, experience, or advice on such matters, please share! In the meantime, I’d like to start assembling a list of e-mail addresses of people who are interested in continuing to follow me once I go underground. Seriously, as long as you’re not a malevolent bastard or a mean person, if you are interested, please do contact me. If you’ve never commented before, it’s okay; as long as you don’t seem creepy, I still want to hear from you. My aim is not to restrict my current readership, which I think is probably pretty small already. I just want to get out of Google-able territory. You can contact me at sweetwaterjournal (at), and I will start making up a list. (Those of you who know my personal e-mail address can feel free to contact me there instead.)

So please keep reading Sweet Water Journal! I may be struggling to post in the next few weeks, so if you’d like to stay on top of my plans, please consider following me through Google Friend Connect (I put a link at the top of the page) or subscribing to the RSS feed. That way you’ll know when I post, and in the meantime, you won’t have to waste your time checking the site needlessly. I promise I’ll give a lot of advance warning before I do anything drastic. And again, I’d like your advice/thoughts/ideas.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

thoughts while running, 7 a.m.

So we just had a storm, and it’s obvious from the sky that there’s going to be another storm. So this is a storm sandwich. Everyone should get to run in a storm sandwich.

I LOVE this song. This song has everything I need. I do not need any other songs. There are no other songs. It is just THIS SONG, ALL THE TIME.

The elastic on this sports bra is too tight. Maybe I should have been suspicious when I practically dislocated my shoulder yesterday while trying it on.

The first half-mile always sucks. It’s going to get better. It’s going to get better. It’s going to get better. Replay the song.

What if I were in a spaceship, and I was looking down on Earth, and thinking, that is so most beautiful planet I have ever seen, wouldn’t it be amazing to be down there? And then I would get to visit, and it would feel like this incredible privilege? Why can’t I just live like that?

I could live like that if I could listen to this song all day long. REPLAY THE SONG.

How is it that I feel less shock in my body while running in these flat sneakers and more when I’m running in my Asics that practically stick a pillow between my feet and the ground? I think all that “shock absorption” stuff is bullshit. My legs feel great. Christopher McDougall is right about everything. Why am I even still using those Asics at all?



Yeah, well, you felt this cocky one mile into your last run in flat sneakers, and by two and half miles your calves were singing a different tune and your shin needed ice, so cool your jets here.

Oh, YOU. Well, anyway. I think I’m going to turn into a minimalist running zealot. I'll monopolize dinner conversations by yakking about the biomechanical problems with heel striking, the “running man” evolutionary theory, and the capitalist conspiracies of athletic shoe companies.

That’s going to be really annoying for your friends.

Okay. Scanning for the big black dog. Here’s its yard. If it is there untied like it was on Friday and starts chasing me I am going to call the cops.

Don’t be an idiot. You are not going to call the cops.

I could. I have the station number right here in my phone just in case.

You are not going to call the cops on a dog. Anyway, it's not there.

And really, you should let the iPod go on to the next song. You like the next song too, you know.

OK, fine. But when the next song is done, I’m going to back to THE SONG.

Yep. I’m going back. THIS SONG RULES.

Was that lightening?

Yes. Which means you should probably—WATCH THE FEET.

Crap. I almost bit it there. I forgot that rain makes the sidewalks this slick.

It would really, really hurt if I fell right on my kneecap. Oh my God, I hope I never fall on my kneecap. I wonder if I fell with my knee all wonky, if my kneecap could pop right off. Then I’d never be able to run again and I would lose my mind.

Lots of people can’t run and don’t lose their minds. Stop thinking like a crazy person.

WHEEEE!!!! I’m almost at three miles and I still feel great!! I’m doing another mile. REPLAY THE SONG.

It’s seriously lightening over there. It’s going to start again and you’re almost home anyway. If you get caught in a deluge you will be really caught because no one is home to rescue you and there is no shelter past the overpass there. Plus you may be struck by lightening and that could kill you or cause brain damage. Get home. Now.

Now who’s thinking like a crazy person? I’m just going to do that hill yet, and then I’ll turn around. The storm isn’t close. That will put me over three miles. If I get this far and I still feel up to a hill, then goddammit, I’m doing a hill.

This really isn’t bad. This feels okay. I can do hills. I don’t have to be afraid of hills.

Except that you have no idea how to run downhill in these shoes. You are going to bust something.

Fuck off. I’m just going to haul ass and not think. Okay, here we come. Turn around…


Wow. OK. Breathe. Wow. Breathe. OK.

See? That’s exactly how I ran down hills when I was a little kid, in little kid shoes.

Whatever. You grew up in central Kansas, you dolt. There were no hills to run down.

There was that one in the park. I had at least one hill. And I ran. So shut up. Who are you, anyway?

Either your better self, or your worst. I don't think we've sorted that one out yet.

Maybe if I increase my mileage, you will go away.

I kept you from slipping on that wet pavement, didn't I? I have your back, don't I?


I don't know. REPLAY THE SONG.*

* “A Moment So Close,” Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, from Outbound.