Tuesday, April 26, 2011

beach reading

I am always resolving to be friendlier to strangers. In Tulum, I felt uncharacteristically open. I smiled and sung "Hola!" to nearly every person I passed on the street. Mysteriously, "hola" is more difficult for me to say in English.

On the beach, I read things, though not necessarily in this order:

1. "Freckled skin ages prematurely." -- Jennifer Egan, A Visit From the Goon Squad

2. "The people who knew David least well are most likely to speak of him in saintly terms. What makes this especially strange is the near-perfect absence, in his fiction, of ordinary love. Close loving relationships, which for most of us are a foundational source of meaning, have no standing in the Wallace fictional universe. What we get, instead, are characters keeping their heartless compulsions secret from those who love them."--Jonathan Franzen, "Farther Away"

3. "The first Europeans to see Tulum were probably Juan de Grijalva and his men as they sailed reconnaissance along the Eastern coast of Yucat√°n in 1518. The Spaniards later returned to conquer the Peninsula unwittingly bringing Old World diseases which decimated the native population. And so Tulum, like so many cities before it, was abandoned to the elements." --guidebook.

4. "And when did we just, like, throw in the towel? I'm surrounded by adults wearing jammiez and eating Chips Ahoy." --personal correspondence

5. "The curious thing about David's fiction, though, is how recognized and comforted, how loved his most devoted readers feel when reading it. To the extent that each of us is stranded on his or her own existential island -- and I think it's approximately correct to say that his most susceptible readers are ones familiar with the socially and spiritually isolating effects of addiction or compulsion or depression -- we gratefully seized on each new dispatch from that farthest-away island which was David." --Jonathan Franzen, "Farther Away"

6. "Monotony collapses time. Novelty unfolds it." --Joshua Foer, Moonwalking with Einstein

7. "come home soon!" --personal correspondence

On our last day in Tulum, I was chatting with one of the hotel employees.

"What do you do for a living?" he asked in flawless English. He'd lived in Santa Barbara for 18 years.

"I'm a librarian," I said.

"You don't look like a librarian."

No one has ever said that to me before.

Friday, April 8, 2011

when librarians take ill

Tuesday at the reference desk, a patron sat before me and muttered something unintelligible.

"Excuse me?"

[mumble mumble]

"Excuse me? I need you to enunciate more clearly."


"Is it a big one?"

"Nah, but I can see it."

"Well, thank you. I appreciate that. Now, why don't you tell me what you need so I can go take care of my booger?"

"A book of speeches for my public speaking class."

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

race wrap

The final stretch of the race was a two-mile descent. At the bottom of the hill, I looked out onto a beach and watched the gray waves roll in, the kids building sandcastles as their parents sat on blankets. It was an idyllic ending to a race that had taken me 2,200 feet into the rolling headlands, past just-blooming poppies, through marshes, under canopies of eucalyptus trees, past World War II gun bunkers, and awarded a perfect view of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco skyline in the distance.

Then I realized I would have to run my last half-mile across the sand.

A tide pool separated the beach from the finish line. I removed my shoes, waded through, and crawled up a small dirt hill onto the asphalt. I ran the last 100 feet sans shoes, crossing the finish line barefoot, covered in mud.

I finished the race in 2:22, four minutes under the average finish time and placed within the top half of runners. Not bad considering how completely unprepared I felt going into it. My friend Kathy finished in 2:06. When we had speculated on our finish times the day prior, we were both shooting for three hours.

Back in Kathy's apartment post-race. We didn't make any of our three dinner reservations that night.

Given the difficulty of the course, I think this was the most physically challenging thing I've ever done. It's a an entirely different mindset from derby where I had thirteen teammates depending on me to deliver points, and in turn, I could depend on them to help me through the pack (and let's not delve into the countless instances where we let each other down. It's all part of the game). At the Doll Factory, there were 2,000 people cheering me on -- something I've always had a complicated relationship with. When I finished the race, I had Kathy to high-five and encouraging text messages from my friends. But I also had a singular sense of accomplishment and euphoria that I've never experienced before. I knew immediately that I wanted to do more Envirosports half-marathons (an ordinary half-marathon would probably seem boring after this).

On Monday, I started my research. Big Sur half-marathon in September? Sign me up. Death Valley 30K in December? Yes please. Then I calculated that 30K = 18.6 miles, and thought, well, I still have seven months to train....

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Fan Mail

"I'm enjoying your journal after roller derby" -- Jace, South Carolina.