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17 posts from December 2004

The EveDecember 31, 2004

I feel as though I should say something deeply introspective and wise on this, the eve of a new year. Something that will make you stop and think, make you sigh, make you wonder about the very fibers of our beings here on the planet we all share.

Well, damn. This last year's been a doozy, huh?

How's that? Really, it has been something else. The country's gone all to hell and Canada gets more amazing by the minute, but my life's been pretty damn great this year. I bought a home. I ran a marathon. I fell into big, big love. I got to meet about a million bloggers who are all, each one of 'em, as fabulous as you can imagine. I learned dogs are pretty damn cool. I wrote a lot. I got to spend time with my family, and all are healthy. My sisters remain incredibly cool.

So, what now? What does 2005 hold when 2004 kicked so much ass? I can only think of one thing: A book being freaking DONE. Not necessarily sold, because I know the realities of selling a novel in the Land of TiVo. But at least done and out there.

And you know what? Don't yell at me, but I'm starting something new. I'm putting the novel I've been working on for two years aside for a little bit. I've been working it to death this last month, and it feels like a fair-isle sweater done on 10US needles. I'm fighting with its bulk, and it's mocking me. And in my knitting, when I'm mocked, I put the obstinate wool away and start something else.

I don't doubt I'll finish the revisions on this one. I'm a finisher, something I've  learned about myself this year. I always pick the grumpy sweater back up (eventually) and make it into a garment. But me and the current book, we're on the outs, and I have a light little book in mind that I'm going to try to bang out in short order, starting next week. The knitted socks of my writing life.

I only worry about myself when I'm not writing at all. I did a fair bit of that this year, feeling too discouraged by the novel to do much of anything else. But as long as I'm writing, I'll allow myself to let this novel lie fallow a little longer. I've got one character in particular who's balking and digging in her heels and refusing, flat-out refusing, to do anything she needs to do. We're not on speaking terms. We need a time-out. And she can't have ANY ice cream, either, for at least a couple of months. I'm cruel that way.

Do I sound like I'm justifying too much? I might be. I have some guilt over not powering through the damned thing. But I tried that, and my voice is going all stern and mean and just isn't mine at all. I'll try this other project and we'll see where it goes.

Here's to a magnificent 2005 for us all. I raise my virtual glass of fine cham-pan-ya in your general direction and thank you, for being my friends. (New year) MWAH!

UpdateDecember 30, 2004

Ankle is feeling better. It wasn't a wicked sprain, it was just more of a strain, and embarrassing, to boot. Or to shoe, as the case may be.

Go read Em and Iris. Collectively, they got me off my ass to donate (and because I know my debit card by heart, that's only figurative -- I never even had to stand up). Go on, make a difference. Show 'em some Americans really do care. MWAH!

Danger

Someone please explain to me how it is in any way possible that I ran a marathon in Hawaii, and then ran around Mills College in the rain just yesterday, through mud puddles, and on slick sidewalks, and yet last night at work I managed to twist the shit out of my ankle while I was STANDING on the spot where the carpet meets the incredibly dangerous eighth-of-a-centimeter plastic mat? True talent, mine.

Hey, you like the new banner? Is that just weird that I'm posting a picture of my tub? Too intimate? Don't really care, because nothing in my whole enormous  540 square foot living space thrills me like that tub. Well, maybe opening my door with my own key. And my cute cats (see below). But then, the tub. I have discovered recently that coffee is even more enjoyable than beer in the tub. Don't ask me why that is. I don't know.

Anyway. Is it Friday yet?

Someone Missed MeDecember 29, 2004

while I was at the parents' house for the holiday:

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Skittle SocksDecember 28, 2004

Hey! How were your holidays? I guess they're not over yet, are they? Lots of people have the week off, and bless 'em. Me, I have to go back to work tonight. I got off Christmas morning, took a brief nap for driving safety, drove the 250 miles home, ate dinner, and PASSED OUT. I think I slept twelve hours that night, something I never manage to do.

We did open prezzies, though, which was fun. Bethany's still in Montana, and we missed the hell outta her, but here are the other Herron gals:

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Didn't knit anything for anyone this Xmas. I made Lala some socks out of Twisted Sister yarn the color of Skittles:

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but she only accidentally got them near Christmas. A happy coincidence, I think.

I used the same yarn, different color, for a pair for myself, which I just finished. Now, I have a method for making socks. I'm no embellisher, no cables or lacework in my socks, just a good toe-up sock, with a ribbed cuff. I know how long to make each part of a sock for myself by measuring it as I go against my hand. Therefore, after I finished sock #1, I put it away and didn't refer to it again until sock #2 was completed. That's when I realized that I must have bought a different dye-lot.

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Whoops. And honestly, I really don't care, since they're for me. Now that's got to be a FAST trotting horse, but trot it does.

And while we're on knitting (briefly, don't worry, I'm sure I'll neglect knitting content for weeks after this spate), here's the Manos my friend Lynn sent me:

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Doesn't its beauty just hurt? Mmmm. Here's what I'm thinking: A reg'lar ole bottom-up raglan, but with stripes, and maybe a wee cable up both arms. And that's when I lose control, start thinking about the LARGE cable I could put up the front, a la Starmore, with the stripes running through them, and I have two thoughts: #1: Slow it down, partner! One thing at a time. #2: It's my sweater and I can do whatever I want with it, thus the joy of knitting. (That's what Mariko said when we met for coffee the other night. Her husband is as nice as she is, and that's a very large statement. And she didn't throw anything at me as retribution for essentially outing her as a child-Santa-phobe a couple of post ago.)

But I do admit a nice simple stripey raglan might be just the thing.

Happy Christmas!December 24, 2004

Let me put you where I am. Well, that might be uncomfortable, since I'm occupying this chair and don't really feel like fighting over it. I'm at work, settled in for a long winter's shift. Got here at 7pm, getting off work at 7am. It's currently o'dark thirty and holding. In front of me are four big ole computer screens. One is the police radio, one is the phone system, both 911 lines and normal police phones, and two screens are for the computer-aided dispatch computers, which keep track of where my cops are at all times. Okay, most times. Sometimes they go to Starbucks without telling me (or offering me a cup) but they shouldn't do that. Right now I have two officers at lunch (breakfast, whatever), three in the green (available), and one sergeant somewhere in the building.

It's a small room, with five chairs. There are only two dispatchers working right now -- me and my late-night partner JoAnn. We're a good team. We knit. We don't gossip, except for things like the Peterson trial or current Jessica Simpson scandal. She keeps up with those types of things and fills me in when I need to be filled.

We have holiday lighting and decorations all over the room. A string of white-light icicles goes exactly three-quarters of the way around the room, which kind of drives me crazy, but it's all right. All the regular overhead lights are off in deference to our desperate desire to sleep.

The radio in the break-room is set on a popular station -- mostly today's hit music (sigh) with a light smattering of Xmas tunes. Not so many Christmas tunes that I want to slit my wrists, just enough to seep into the brain and remind you that yes, you're at work while everyone else is drinking spiked egg nog.

To my left are: My purse, my knit-kit, a half-done sock, a Clapotis pattern, a map of the city, an empty *$ cup, a lipgloss, and half a roll of toilet paper because my nose won't stop running. To my right are: A city phone directory, an article on sweater design, a half bottle of water, a shaker of salt, and TJ's peanut-butter filled pretzels. At my feet is a Honolulu Marathon bag that's holding my novel (hey, I really didn't notice how poetic that was until just now). My feet are propped up on an upside down recycling bin. I'm in uniform. We won't discuss that.

Today, I'll go see Lala for a minute (maybe two if she's lucky), then go home and to bed. Up this afternoon to wrap and prep for the Christmas that I didn't really see coming. I need glasses, apparently. Then back in at 7pm until 7am, when I'll go home for a quick nap before getting on the road to drive home (5 hours south) for Christmas dinner.

Think of your public servants this weekend, people. It's hard to be at work when you just want to be at home with your family and loved ones. And there are a lot of us out here -- dispatchers, cops, doctors, nurses, EMTs, firefighters, security guards, bridgetenders.... I've run out. Sleepy. I think bridgetender is rather creative, actually. Oh! Pilots. Bus-drivers. I bet you get the picture now. Anyway. You know what I mean.

Truly, I'm happy to be here. It's weird, but I am. ESPECIALLY since Rosa is picking up tamales tonight on her way to work from the best tamale place in the whole world (the history page is great). I don't mind working. And I get to see my family on Christmas night, which is more than I've been able to in past years.

Did I mention I get tamales tonight? I'm not eating all DAY in preparation. Dude.

Merry Christmas, all y'all who celebrate it. Those who don't, have a great Saturday. Hug yer loved ones, and tell them what they mean to you, and I'll see you on Monday(ish).

I am Officially EvilDecember 23, 2004

Nothing, and I do mean nothing, puts me in the holiday spirit like kids bein' scared of Santa. But none of the kids in that gallery have anything on our own Super Eggplant Mariko, sold down the river last year by her Insane Brother (sold down the same river this year by me). If you didn't see her last year, see her this year HERE.

(Maybe she'll exact her revenge in candy....)

December 22, 2004

Thanks for the tattoo comments! M-H, I think yours is very valuable advice -- I hadn't thought about the wisdom of messing around with a Maori symbol, and I think you're right, bad idea. I'll keep the 26.2 or its representation (I like the 26.2 stars idea, but that's a LOT of painful stars) near it or next to it, but not incorporated into it.

I'm sure about the tiki, though. I've worn it ever since I was a little girl, even though my early pendants were just plastic. I only graduated to the greenstone jade when I became a grown-up and bought my own, just like my mother always told me I would. (My little mama is suspiciously dark, with olive skin and big deep brown eyes, not at all as you would expect a Kiwi of English descent to look. I've always been convinced, even if she's not, that there's some Maori in our bloodline. I coveted her brown eyes growing up, and still do, in fact. Sometimes I forget I don't have them and when I see my own blue ones I feel a little shock of surprise. Tangent from a tangent! I rock, tangentially.)

You know, I just erased two paragraphs that were too boring to ever hit the backs of your eyeballs. Seriously. I don't want to waste your time. Let me sum up: #1 - Manos is cool. #2 - I have a home warranty which I didn't know about, which I am excited about, especially now that I'll be able to get my heater fixed. (Typo: Hearter. Nope, that one's doing just fine, no warranty necessary.)

That's it, apparently. I'm running on empty. If I find anything interesting in my head later, I'll let you know. But nothing right now. I'm going to wind yarn, because I'm not good for much else right now. Bo-ring.

PrioritiesDecember 21, 2004

I almost just got a tattoo. But then I got an oil change instead.

This grown-up stuff? Meh. Weighing priorities and all that can be DULL. (But I suppose I made up for it by yarn shopping this morning. My friend Lynn sent me six hanks as a house-warming present, lovely, gorgeous stuff, and I wanted a couplethree more so I can play around with a sweater. I think I'm going to base it on the Retro-Prep, my favorite standby, but run some cables through the stripes. Throw convention to the winds. I've never used Manos, and when I knitted a swatch (on glorious fat 5(US) needles, hooray!), it was stunning, almost heady.) I'm glad I remembered that last parenthesis.

Speaking of tattoos, I still want the yarn one, the sheepy one, but I want a smaller simpler one first. I found a nice-looking store just around the corner from my house, and the guy inside was super sweet just a few minutes ago. I asked him what the hours were, and he said, "Eleven till eight. Every day. Except sometimes we come in later. And then sometimes we have band practice, so we close, but we'll totally stay open late for you if you want." I'm SO getting my tat done there. I want a Maori tiki, like the one I wear:

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I think I want this very one; dude said they could photocopy the necklace and then play with it. I also want to incorporate somehow the number 262, to commemorate the 26 point damn 2 miles I ran last week, you know? Yup. Any ideas?

But I needed an oil change more than a tattoo. Dern it. Maybe after Christmas.

Celebrity SightingDecember 19, 2004

Weekends, all at home, are good, GOOD things. Really. I didn't have to run, we slept in, and I had a little knit-night at my house. [Disclaimer: If you live in the area and I should have invited you, please know that it was only because I forgot. I was sending evites up until the very day, thinking of people that should go on the list. If you should have been on it, if I've met you in person (my only prereq to get the house-invite), shoot me an email. I'm sure accidental oversights occurred.]

And you know who was at my knit-night?

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Can you imagine? Who'd a thunk? Here's our very own Carrieoke, snuggling her new schmoo, Lala's Harriet:

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And I have to say right here, right now, Carrie really is all that. You know how you worry a little bit? Sure, I love her voice and her blog and the way she is OnLine, but what about in person? Will she really be that awesome? Who could? Carrie could, that's who. Her personality is as gorgeous as her pictures are, AND she's got a fantastic mind and heart (and voice, duh). I totally heart Carrie. (And her schmoo voice? When she's talking to dogs? Cutest thing I've ever heard.)

Who else was there? Let me think. Joanna (who brought persimmon pudding, a HUGE hit, and a Herron fave). Becca (did you mean to leave the eggnog and nutmeg? 'Cause I'm still enjoying it.... And thanks for the wonderful book and wine-opener!). Kira (artfibers) and Rachel (always ready with the brownies -- YUM). Elizabeth (making the cutest tea cozy ever). Nathania (always so sweet -- rainbow tea lights! For my windows!). Yvonne (no blog, but should have one, creative puss; she's making a rubber stamp in the foreground here while Kira and Carrie discuss string theory behind her):

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Also, Janine (no blog yet, but hopefully soon):

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Yep, that's our Janine of Ryan's comments, a Feral Knitter if there ever was one. She knitted that. AND DESIGNED IT. I was kinda stunned when I asked her how long she'd been knitting. See, I've been knitting for twenty-seven years. She's been knitting for SEVEN. I have to hang up my circulars and bow to her. Really. And she's hysterical and sweet, to boot.

I'm sure I've forgotten people. Oh, like Lala, but she's expected and dern cute. (Can I just mention how THRILLED I am that I have a girlfriend who not only comes over early to hang house numbers on my porch, but will also learn to make short-roe toes during the party? Almost too good to be true, that one.)

A couple more. Joanna and Carrie:

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Elizabeth and the two schmoos:

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I felt like the meanest mama in the whole wide world, because I put Digit and Adah in their carriers and put them in the bedroom closet (both cats wriggle out the doors like water, and would have been let out accidentally in the midst of all the comings and goings), but they slept like lambs and didn't seem to mind at all. Thank god. This morning, however, Digit spilled his breakfast from the counter to the floor, and while I was mopping it up, he ate our uncooked scrambled eggs, raw. So he might be little miffed.

I've been to one holiday party already tonight, and I might have another one or two to hit yet, so I'm waiting to hear. I think I'll knit and watch TV in my fancy duds and cashmere socks. I got my socks in the little sock swap that's been flying around and is finishing up this week! They're from Alison, and I LOVE them -- they're just what these little marathon-y feet need:

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Oh, the softness, and just the right size! I'm off to knit in them. And to all, a good night.

Lala HulaDecember 17, 2004

Someone mentioned the flu-mist earlier, and my initial reaction was, oh, no, I can't get that. It might give me the flu, and I don't want that before the marathon!

1. I know the flu-mist doesn't give you the flu, nor does the flu-shot, but it doesn't help that I got the worst flu of my life last year, just after getting my shot. Unreasonable, sure. I know it had nothing to do with the shot -- you're just not protected for about 2 weeks after you get it. But there you go.

2. I ran the marathon. It's over. That's SUCH a good feeling.

You know what the best part is? Sunday mornings. I haven't even had one yet, but I can't wait for it. A Sunday morning lie-in? With coffee and sunshine and nowhere to go, and nothing to do? Bring it.

Thanks for your comments, wonderful, dearest readers. Funny thing is that you kinda made me realize something. Driving home yesterday morning, thinking about what y'all had said about things like determination and achievement, I was stunned to notice that maybe I'm not as lazy as I think I am. Don't laugh. I mean it. In the image I hold of myself in my head, I'm a slacker. Never getting things done. Not mopping the floor. Forgetting to buy milk. Not finishing writing the novel. Never sending Christmas cards. Not getting the tires rotated.

But the marathon has really made me think I might be something of an achiever after all. This, in turn, has helped to re-light the ol' pilot on the writing stove. I love it.

You know what else is a good thing? Walking in Honolulu, missing m'girl, and seeing this:

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Oh, yeah.

7:12:33December 15, 2004

I DID IT!

This is going to be a LONG entry, I warn you. Lots about the marathon, nothing about knitting, or really, anything else for that matter. I started it in Hawaii, and I’m finishing it in bed, this sunny Wednesday afternoon (sorry, got in from the flight too late last night to post). I’m hungry, and want coffee, but will post this first.

Hawaiian Post:
As I type this (but not as I post it, since I can’t get into typepad for some reason), I’m sitting at the edge of the ocean. It’s Monday night, probably about 7pm, and I’m at the Sheraton Waikiki, listening to the surf and the Hawaiian singers and the loud drunk people. People start drinking early here, boy howdy. Me, I’m only on my first mai tai of the evening. Behind the tiki torches in front of me, over the water, is Diamond Head. I can’t see it right now, but I’ve stared at it off and on all day while floating in the water. I’ve gone for four swims today (and you know by “swimming” I mean “floating in the water like a pool toy”). And I’ve had a massage. It’s been a rough, rough day, I can tell you.

I’m pretty much doing the opposite of what I did yesterday, which was run my ass off. I’m so PROUD of Marama and myself. We are finishers. We are marathoners. We DID it. With your help, and with your incredible well wishes,  we made it. I swear to god, there were times that I could FEEL you thinking of us. I would flag, I would lose my breath and almost my balance, I would think “what the fuck makes a person do this?” and I would get that second (fourteenth) wind, knowing I was supported and thought of.

Oh, it was amazing. How do I tell you about it? I don't even know where to start.

First of all, getting here was miserable. Marama had worked twelve hours, and even though I had only worked eight, we had both been up all night. We got off at 5am, took BART to the airport, and then waited around, dead on our feet. Crammed onto the plane, we only cat-napped uncomfortably for the six-hour ride. Oh, we were grumpy. There isn’t anything like a plane full of really excited, happy, clean, well-rested, good-smelling people to irritate two rumpled, exhausted dispatchers who’ve just spent the previous night dealing with other people’s problems. We are probably at this very moment getting extra time recorded in purgatory for how much we hated everyone but each other. But that wore off, and fast, as soon as we got on the bus from the airport to the hotel. Oh, we were home! Marama was born here, and I spent my formative teen years in the islands. It just felt so good, and so right.

And even better when we checked into our ocean-front room at the Sheraton. Dude! Ocean-front! This is a charity gig; we expected a “mountain” view. But we were on the tenth floor, a balcony looking right onto the sand, water, and pool. Taken from the balcony:

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Oh, oh, oh. We just wandered on Thursday, happy to see and smell the sights. And we’re talking Coach and Prada and Hermes, fancy shops that are more plentiful in Waikiki than are palm trees.

On Friday we rented a car and drove around the island. It was Marama’s idea, and she is BRILLIANT.

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We got right away from the crowds and visited the beaches where she played as a child, and we went thrift-store shopping and bought Hawaiian fabric and followed two gay boys (Kevin and Tim) all over Oahu. Everywhere we stopped, they were already there. I think they started to get scared of us after a while. We ended up in the tiny town of Haleiwa on the North Shore after the sun went down. Starving, we chose a little restaurant near the marina and then watched the local Christmas parade go by while we ate dinner. The navy boys just arriving home went by on their humvees, followed by large doves of peace. There was a float topped with Rudolph leading the nativity scene. It was awesome.

Saturday was pretty shot getting ready for the marathon. We went to the Expo and signed in, receiving our marathon chips and bibs. (You tie the chip to your shoe, and it tracks your progress all through the marathon, and the bib is your number writ large (6900!) for all the cameras to track. It’s how they plan to get you to buy the photo they take of you as you cross the finish line. Oh, I’ll buy it, all right. Never fear. Don’t care if there’s snot and tears all over my face, I’ll buy it.) Then we carbo-loaded until we were sick, and attempted to go to sleep by about 7:30pm. It didn’t work – we were both up for HOURS, but we tried.

MARATHON DAY

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We woke at 2:45am. Yep. It was bad, really bad. We didn’t talk much, we were just focused on getting our gear on in the right order. Out of the hotel by 3am, off to pick up my teammates (seen here the day before)

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at the Hyatt, about a half-mile down the road. Left there at 3:30am, in order to catch the shuttle that we were told to ride between the hours of 2 and 4. But no, there were NO shuttles. They were full and gone, and we had to WALK the two miles to the start line. Oh, insult to injury.(Even more insults came from the jeers we received from the people just leaving the clubs which don’t close in Hawaii until 4am. They took great pleasure in telling us how fucking nuts we were. We appreciated it.)

We followed thousands and thousands of people down the roads to the start, all of us wearing our running clothes and a slight nervous green tinge around the gills. With over 25,000 runners, the start was incredible. There were fireworks over the water, and then we were OFF! The fast people were in the front; the rest of us left in a shuffle that was so exciting it translated as real speed. It was one of those pinch-me moments. My running mates and I kept asking each other, “Are we really doing this? Really? We’re really running a marathon! In Hawaii! We’re here!” And then we would shuffle a few more feet. That many people is a LOT of people.

We were running that day at a faster pace than we had run the practice marathon, for some ungodly reason. I hadn’t been too happy about it when it was proposed, but I was in the minority, so I shut up and sucked it up, knowing that I could drop back if necessary. For the last six months, it had been drilled into us that we never, ever leave our pace group partners, but that rule didn’t apply for the marathon. We had to do whatever we had to do to cross the finish line. We hoped we would make it together, but we couldn’t be sure of anything. But the pace felt good, and we ran. And we ran. And we ran.

A little less than two hours in, we were at mile 8 (yep, we have a pretty slow pace, even speeded up), and we saw the most amazing thing. It was even more amazing than the sunrise we had just seen, blazing over Diamond Head, breaking through the low clouds in brilliant scored rays. We saw the first runners coming IN. Think about it. Those Kenyans, man. The fastest runner ran the whole damn marathon in 2:11:12. Two hours and eleven minutes! When we were at mile eight, he was passing mile 25, just about to bring it home. His legs were as high as my shoulders. Thousands of runners were screaming for him as he flashed by, and he never spared us a glance. He couldn’t. He was followed by police motorcycles, flying code three, and they could barely keep up. He was a miracle in motion, and I’m not overstating this. And then the first woman raced by. We almost tripped in our own running, we screamed and cheered so loudly. They kept coming. Even though they couldn’t win, the fast runners kept on coming, their legs looking like cartoon blurs. Insane. Truly insane, what these people were doing. And we still had five hours to go. We kept on trotting.

The daylight was just peeling back as we climbed Diamond Head. Now, I have to tell you. Diamond Head is a mountain, and while we knew we didn’t have to run right over the very top, we knew we had to climb its foothills to get around it, and we were scared. Everyone we talked to said it was horrible. Hard. Killing. We got there and it was nothing. Come on. We trained in San Francisco, going up the Cliff House to Sutro Heights. We literally went up the side of Diamond Head and then looked for the hill we had to climb. It was only when we started descending that we realized we were done with it. It was fabulous, one of our best moments.

Then it was flat and progressively hotter, but we were having a ball. Really. We were having a blast, laughing, talking, looking at the waves and the palms, cheering on our fellow AIDS Marathon runners (there were about 1100 of them in the race).

***Break here, now I’m back in bed, at home. Adah’s purring next to me, and I’m thinking of making some coffee, but I’ll finish this post, which I totally owe you.

The best things in life were the sponges. They were soaked in ice water, and handed to you as you ran by. I took mine every time and wrung it out over my head. Running in heat is totally bearable if you’re soaked to the skin. Another helpful hint: A bra full of ice cubes helps. Seriously. They make the best clinking noises when you run, too.

So we ran and ran and ran. Every hour I’d eat a package of Gu (chocolate is the best – tastes like a great big warm melted chocolate kiss), and at about mile fifteen I added a salt packet to my water bottle. You know you’re sweating when salty water tastes great. Oh! I was spotted by Monica! She cheered me on as I ran by! My running mates were very impressed that I was recognized, and I was thrilled to be recognized by the insanely awesome LA coach.

Okay, being back home, tucked up in bed, it’s hard to remember how it all went. It was perfectly great until about mile twenty, and then it got hard. But we stuck to our pace religiously, something we weren’t sure that we were going to be able to do. Teammate Kathleen hit a wall, not sure if it was The Wall or not, but she managed to keep going, despite her failing IT bands. Vanessa was hurting. Lauren and I were hurting, too, but we kept it going. It’s strange to be that incredibly, unbearable tired and in that much pain, and still be able to pick up your legs and run.

After mile 20, it gets blurry in my memory. The people cheering on the sides of the road helped the most. The trick is to write your name on your singlet. And oh, did it work. At the beginning of the race, when the fireworks are exploding and people are cheering, you think they’re totally cheering just for you. At the end of the race, they really, really are. Hundreds and hundreds of times, I heard, “Go, Rachael! Rachael, you can do it! You’re almost there! You’ve got it! Keep it up, Rachael!” The first time I heard that, I cried.

We ran back up Diamond Head, and this time it was HARD. But once up, we got to run all the way down to the finish line. Another teary moment was when we heard someone yell, “It’s all downhill from here!” Marama said later she had felt the same way. We kept expected more Up. To find there’s only Down is the best feeling ever.

Now we’re close to the end. A friend of my teammate’s finds us and runs along the sidewalk, cheering us. She says that at that turn right there, we’ll be able to see the finish line. We turn. We CAN see the finish line. It’s far away, but it’s there. Our smiles are so huge they don't fit on our faces. We’re laughing and running harder. People are yelling for us, pushing us faster. There is no pain at all, none. Van and Lauren sprint ahead; I stay with Kat just a few feet back, and we’re over the line. We did it. We did it!

And then I’m not really sure where I should stop running so I go a little farther until people are laughing and telling me it’s okay to stop. I hug random strangers. I cry a little. I take this shot of myself.

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And this was taken by the marathon—I’ll order it larger when it’s available on-line.

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7:12:33.

Not bad for a first-timer. Okay, it’s pretty slow. But it was consistent. My first half was almost exactly as long as my second half. Out of 25,671 runners, I was number 18,809. Right at the front of the fourth quarter. I am so PROUD of my medal and my finisher shirt and all the other marathon swag I bought. But I’ve never been prouder than when I watched Marama run over the finish line, too. Oh, oh, oh.

This is a really long entry, huh? Sorry. So. We collected our things, our medals and tees. We sat on the grass at the AIDS Marathon booth and ate peanut butter. We called people and told them we did it.

(Best conversation: Marama’s five-year old daughter Kalea had asked her earlier in the week, “Mom, can you win?” Marama said, “I’ll try.” When she came over the finish line, she won. She totally won. So she called Kalea and said, “Guess what, baby girl? I won!” I could hear from where I was sitting Kalea’s “Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!”)

Then we had to walk back to the hotel. Ouch. Probably almost a mile from the finish line, that was painful. We changed into swimsuits, went downstairs into the water and went for a swim. It was gorgeous, looking up at Diamond Head and knowing we’d DONE it. Then we went up to the pool bar and ordered our mai tais.

Maitaiyes

We had Monday to play on the beach and watch half of Honolulu limp (that really was funny, actually. I've never seen so many people limping and hobbling all in one place). Marama got the marathon punes (as Mariko calls them) and spent a lot of time lying down, but I managed to sit on the beach and watch the people go by:

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and I got to drink a little that night, after a spectacular sunset:

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Remember this: A Tropical Itch at the Royal Hawaiian Mai Tai Bar comes with its very own back scratcher. Good to know.

I'm still in bed, about to post this. It still hurts to walk, and to stand up, or sit down, or go up or down any steps, but it was so worth it. So worth it. I think I'm going to rest right here until I have to go back to work tonight. I might wear my medal. Hell, I think I will.

MWAH.

I'm LEAVING! December 8, 2004

Can you BELIEVE that? It's almost here!

THE AIDS MARATHON!

To which you all, in your infinite generosity and grace and love, are sending Team 911 (along with that HUGE donation from Rosenblum Cellars -- go buy some wine. Way worth it, I'm telling you. Makes me run faster, anyway).

I can't believe we raised the money. I can't believe we've done the training. I can't believe I go to work tonight and then leave from there to go right to the airport. I have SO much to remember -- haven't packed a thing yet.

Okay. I'm nervous. Way nervous. What if I don't make it? What if I don't? Huh? Huh? I've done the distance before, yes, in the practice marathon last month. But this is in the HEAT! I hate heat. And the humidity. Oh, erg. I'm scared. Jitters. But excited. This is it.

This is IT.

I'm taking my computer, on the off chance I get to blog. I won't count on being able to, but I'll hope. And dude, you can go to the Honolulu Marathon and keep track of where I am on Sunday in real time (that'll keep me honest, eh?) by typing in either my name or my runner number: 6900. And I'll thank you to keep your smart remarks about my number to yourself. Yep. And watch our girl Marama, too! She's number 7167. Keep her strong in your minds, also....

I just have to tell you what my sister Christy and  Celia did this weekend. They put their wonderful heads together, and with huge hearts and helping hands and a garage sale, they got together an envelope for Marama and me. When I opened it, I found ninety dollars. I gotta tell you -- Marama just bought a house, too, and we are house POOR. We're actually both house broker-than-broke. We were dreaming of mai-tais on the beach after the run (hell, during the run would be all right, too....), but kind of knew we were going to be buying a lot of free sand and free water instead. So they gave us mai-tai money. It's not for the AIDS Foundation, it's not for any good cause at all, it's just for us to have dinner, or drinks, or pedicures, whatever. Isn't that just the sweetest thing you ever heard? Made me cry. Really. Thank you, to the both of youse. You've made us so happy.

And the rest of you? You made this trip possible, and more than that, much much much more than that, think about this: You raised over $7000 to fight AIDS. We're running for you. Running because of you. Bless all your hearts.

All love, and think of us on Sunday! Whooo hooooooo!

GanseyDecember 6, 2004

Yeehaw!

Lala's home! She's got a Buddha bug, though, so she's a mite under the weather. I believe this calls for fudge.

I'm really, really glad she's home.

Really glad.

Okay.

And in more prosaic news, I painted this weekend! I just did the bathroom, and technically I only did half the bathroom. I had this whole idea that I would put up a white chair rail under the yellow and leave the bottom half white (because I could NEVER move that tub), but now I'm thinking of doing a decorative border because there are a couple of curves along the walls. I went to the hardware store and looked at wallpaper borders, and while I was extremely tempted by all the baseball/rocket/flower-explosion types, I just couldn't make up my mind. What a wealth. I think I'll paint a little vine instead. I keep thinking to myself, "What if I screw it up?" Then I think, "Eh. Who cares? It's MINE!"

Have I told you lately how GREAT that feels?

And I only stepped off the chair INTO the paint tray once. But when they say soap and water, they mean it. Thank god.

Also, I finished the gansey.

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A little closer:

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And from the back (note the new paint!):

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Harriet remained unimpressed:

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Specs:
Yarn: Handspun wool from unremembered vendor at Maryland Sheep and Wool, worsted weight.
Pattern: Silver Creek Classics, S-806
Gauge: 5st/inch, on 2(US)

I freaking LOVE this sweater. Love it. Toyed with giving it away -- I can't. I'm not a big enough person. I'm just not. I must keep this and wear it all the time. Wearing it right now, as a matter of fact. Wore it to dinner (sushi) last night with Lala. Might wear it to my birthday party (in July) and might wear it to yours, too.

Hooray! It's a good day.

A Church's WelcomeDecember 3, 2004

So let me get this the hell straight (so to speak). The United Church of Christ has this ad. It shows two bouncers standing at the door of a church, letting some people in, keeping others (a gay couple, a black boy and girl) out. Then it says, "Jesus didn't turn people away. Neither do we." It's an open invitation to worship with them. It's a lovely ad. See it HERE.

ABC, CBS, and NBC won't air it, stating it's too controversial with today's heightened focus on "moral values."

Here's what kills me. CBS actually announced this: "Because the commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples and other minority groups by other individuals and organizations, and the fact the Executive Branch has recently proposed a constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast on the (CBS and UPN) networks."

So because the Bush administration wants marriage to be only a union between a man and woman, because they're trying to write hate into the Constitution (for the first time ever making the Constitution exclusionary), the media outlets can now officially discriminate against people of color and people like me. Wouldn't want to offend the moral majority, now. Soon, I'm sure, NBC won't show "Will and Grace," because there might be gay people on it. No, that MAKES money for the network, doesn't it? So that's all right.

Fabulous. My stomach hurts.

Write them. Do it. I hate writing letters like this; it never seems to feel like we're making a difference. But maybe we will.

Here you go:
nbcshows@nbc.com
netaudr@abc.com
www.cbs.com  (click on feedback on the bottom and the e-mail form will pop up)

Enjoy your weekend, all.

AttachmentDecember 2, 2004

Late post tonight, but I've got several things on my mind and want to dump them here before I go to work.

#1 - I miss Lala. I'm really trying not to, as I think she's out in the woods being all meditative and content. Really, at heart, I'm a meditative, content person. I should try harder to match her in this right now. I think (from what I glean in conversation, haven't done my own reading yet) that one of the ideas in Buddhism is to try not to become Attached to things or people, as all will change. Yeah, well. I'm attached. I understand that everything changes, everyone dies, people go different places, get sick, suddenly like sushi after never liking it before, yes. I know. I'm okay with that. I'm not asking for any kind of permanent permanence here. I know that's impossible. But I MISS her. In a pouty, foot-stomping, petulant, sulky way. Attractive, I'm sure. Stomp.

#2 - I woke up feeling cruddy again. But not too overly cruddy, and I decided I would worry less about the marathon if I went for a training run, so I did. It was a hard run, lungs working overtime in the cold, and it was a rhinoceros day as I lumbered around Mills (my new favorite run -- Em, tell your mom!). But now, after my bath, tucked up on the couch, I feel so much better, physically AND mentally. Weird.

#3 - A comment from Dear Reader Cathy really got me thinking. She said, "I'm not a writer or a long (or short) distance runner, but it seems to me the two activities have something in common. 1. Only an almost crazy person would attempt such a feat. 2. You must love it or you wouldn't do it. 3. When you've hit that 17th mile (or whatever it is) you need the someone to run with you or cheer you on." And then she gave me a great CHEER.

I've hit the high miles in the novel, haven't I? I worked on it yesterday! I did! And I will today, too! I realized this: They're right about running a marathon when they say it's in two halves. The first half is 20 miles, and the second half is the final 6. I found that to be utterly true when we ran the practice marathon. The first twenty were pretty hard, but the last six were grueling and almost impossible. And that's where I am in the book. I've cruised through the first twenty metaphorical miles, and now I'm looking up a great big six mile hill. I'm exhausted. But I know I can do it. Step by step. My reward is once I'm done, I'll get to start another! I love the magic of writing without (really) thinking, just letting the characters do whatever the hell it is they want to do. I love the lack of control I have I over them. What's hard is this part, the reining in, the choices I have to make, the connections I have to draw or redraw or erase. Erg. It's going to take a while. But with this marathon metaphor in mind, I feel for the first time that it's not insurmountable. Thank you, Cathy. Wow.

#4 - I think I forgot to tell you this. Lala was recognized in Trader Joe's by one of my readers. I was astounded. Personally, I've only ever been recognized at Yarn Things. It was Dear Reader Laine, and I had JUST been telling Lala about her. Laine, how's the move going, anyway?

All right. I think that was it. I'm going to watch a spot of TV before dragging myself and my novel off to work. Have a good night, y'all. Love on someone, okay?

What I'm Not DoingDecember 1, 2004

I can't decide how to take care of myself right now. Really, it sounds odd, but I just can't seem to figure it out. I can't decide how my body is feeling and what I should do about it. I've felt feverish off and on for days. I was totally ready to call in sick tonight if I woke up feeling the same way I felt when I went to bed. But I feel better now, and might even be up for a run. A short one. Maybe? I can't decide. Will that make me feel better? Or worse? No way of knowing. I could just stay on the couch, which my heart knows is sensible, but sensible is also getting my training runs in this week. Next week, the week before the race, I'm not doing ANY training runs, to give my shin splints a final break. This week, it feels like it's important to do them.

I'm babbling. I'm grasping at words, any words.

You know what I'm NOT doing? Yeah, you probably do. I'm not writing. Haven't since I moved. Right now I'm at the point where I'm re-reading the novel slowly, making notes, and deciding how to change the damn book so I can finish it. Hard, hard work, and I've been putting it off. And off. I have to get rid of one integral character completely (or at least make her a minor support character). And I'd like to plot it out. I didn't want a plot when I wrote it, but two years and a very bad memory later, I think I need some help remembering what I've done in five hundred plus pages.

I'm moved. No more excuses. I'll work on it today. And I'll take it with me to Hawaii. Yow. Just want to be back IN it. It's good when I'm in it. Right now I'm standing next to it in a bar, bumping elbows with it, but refusing to acknowledge its presence.

No more excuses. Except this one: No running today. I've decided. If I'm not sure how I feel, better to err on the safe side. Just had to write it out.

Now I just have to Write It Out.