15 April 2010

caribou coffee shop.

he comes in each morning. out of his bag he pulls a small stack of blank, unlined paper and two newly sharpened pencils. it reminds me of preparing for the SATs. he pours over his yellow language book. he is learning german. the tiny handwriting that quickly fills these pages betrays a mind that is working diligently and meticulously. sentences and phrases, all in german. and I can't help but wonder - what is he writing? the mystery of him distracts me from my reading. his routine breaks my own.

this man. maybe late 60s. he is what some in this city of high career fashion might call business casual. always with a button up shirt and a navy blue sport coat hung on the back of his chair. but never with a tie. his face kind of looks like a lizard. in all the good ways, of course. his nose just the smallest bit flattened. his bottom lip slightly sucked in as he writes and writes with his black fountain pen, stopping every so often to silently say the words he is learning. I wonder - why is he learning this? is he going to visit someone soon? maybe a son or daughter who has just moved there? maybe for work? or for love? and I wonder - is he happy with the progress he is making today?

a slim band of gold reveals his fidelity to a wife who I have seen just a few times. for a little while he was on crutches and she would follow him in every morning with his bag of books and paper and pencils. he would get settled as she grabbed a quick cup of coffee. then, a quick kiss goodbye and she was out the door, leaving him to uncover a new set of words that must seem to take on such new meaning as he learns them in a different tongue. I wonder - is he learning german for her? does he go home every night and recount his day's work, saying the words slowly so she may know them too? and I wonder - how long have they been married? I hope for a good long while. and I hope they are happy.

this is the man I see every morning. the man I study as he studies his books. I have so many questions for him. maybe someday I'll get up the courage to ask.

01 April 2010


the snow of february gave in to rain. lots of rain. then all of sudden. the sun broke through and the trees exploded with cherry blossoms.

march was like that in more ways than one. waiting for sun. waiting for new life. then all of a sudden. here it is.

hello spring. I'm so delighted you have arrived.

1. lake michigan - rogue wave (for quite possibly being the
best song I've seen live)

2. comes and goes (in waves) - greg laswell (for when the
rain won't stop)

3. blue skies - noah and the whale (for when I am steeped
in loneliness)

4. everything's not lost - coldplay (for
seeing the light at the end of the tunnel)

5. in other words - ben kweller (for
stepping out from under the haze)

6. ocean breathes salty- modest mouse (for bare branches
that turn into cherry blossoms)

7. a kick in the teeth - fischerspooner
(for when things need to be loud)

8. eyes - rogue wave (for when things need to be quiet)

9. you never know - wilco (for road trips)

10. party in the usa - miley cyrus (for
sabrina. and only because she ran 100 miles)

11. lisztomania - phoenix (for when I know spring has
officially sprung)

3 reasons why I will never run an ultra-marathon. ever.

last weekend I fulfilled one dream I have always had (to travel to the great state of north carolina) and one I never knew existed (to attend an ultra-marathon). in case you have never heard of this sport/act of insanity, check out this article on wikipedia, which defines it as, "any sporting event that involves running longer than the traditional marathon" of about 26 miles. why would a girl who has never run over 5 consecutive miles in her life attend such an event? because my amazingly awesome friend, sabrina was running the umstead 100-mile endurance run at the william b. umstead state park in raleigh, nc. in the end, there were three of us who went for support: myself and the lovely lauren black were her crew team for the weekend, which means we were waiting every time she completed one of the eight 12.5-mile laps. she would run up to us and as she grabbed a handful of cookies, we would frantically buzz around her, trying to re-hydrate/energize/clothe her. now I know what pit-crews at NASCAR races feel like. and then there was teddy, her equally awesome and insane brother who agreed to be her pacer for the last three laps of the race, which meant he ran over 36 miles while cheering her on and making sure she didn't trip on any rocks in her delirium after running the first 60 or so. this family. they are not joking around.

in the end, sabrina came in second for the women (although the woman who got first place ended up being taken to the hospital) and seventh overall. did I mention that it was out of over 250 runners and that she was the youngest by at least 4 years? yeah, that's right. god really pulled out all the stops on this girl.

I am not one to post simple (and somewhat boring) accounts of events in my life. so in an effort to make it a little more interesting, here are 3 simple reasons why I will never run an ultra-marathon. ever.

1. I would die. no joke. in our copious hours of down-time, lauren and I occupied ourselves with talking about how much we could run if we absolutely had to. various situations and our answers: if someone put a gun to your head? probably 6-8 miles. if someone put a gun to your loved one's head? maybe one lap (12.5 miles). if a bear was chasing you? I would give up. not worth it. I'm going to heaven anyway.

2. I am not a masochist. at first as people ran by we were sorely disappointed to find that they looked rather normal. no one was crawling across the finish line. no one collapsed the minute their legs stopped moving. no one was even throwing up. but then, as time wore on, the signs began to show. one woman decided to stop after running 62 miles (weak!) and upon sitting down began weeping for relief and joy. one man had to be picked up by the red cross volunteers in the middle of a lap and when he was brought back on the four-wheeler, he was writhing in pain and sounded like what I can only imagine one who has just had an appendage blown off sounds like. as people stopped to take breaks or drop out, they waddled like women in their last weeks of pregnancy - afraid to make the blood blisters on their feet burst. all of this of course, excluded the winner of the race, who finished 100 miles in 13 hours and 23 minutes, sat down with labored breathing for less than 10 minutes, and then simply walked it off. and got taco bell for dinner.

3. I am not ambitious enough. don't get me wrong, i have as many things i want to accomplish as the next person, but what kind of person has to be driven enough to run for 100 miles? someone with huge ambitions, that's who. these people could probably be millionaires if they wanted to. or cure cancer. or create world peace.

so there you have it. 3 reasons why you will never see me run 100 miles. or 50. or probably even 25.

(pre-race. 6 am and ready to go)

(post-race. 11:30 and just confirming
she is, in fact, the bionic woman)

(yes, I blinked, are you really so surprised?)