Monday, May 22, 2017

Ravenswood Run 2017

This year was the first year we ran the Ravenswood Run 5K as a family, following on the heels of our tremendously successful Turkey Trot last year. It benefits Ravenswood Community Services, the organization housed in our church that provides food, meals, and health screenings to people in Ravenswood and Uptown.

As before, I ran with D while The Dude stayed with G. Before starting the race, D decided he would run half of it with me before taking off on his own. We went over the instructions on the way to the race - where we would meet up afterwards, how to know where to go, that sort of thing. As I was describing how the course was laid out he became uncomfortable with the idea of leaving me - he's really not that aware of his surroundings and while he's been on all the streets I was naming, he clearly wasn't remembering them. So then we decided to go with our strategy for the Turkey Trot, where he stayed with me until the finish line was in sight.

We started and I could immediately tell we'd started off a bit fast for me, and that I was going to have to either slow down - almost impossible to do with D there - or take more walk breaks than I was anticipating. So halfway through we ended up splitting up after all (though I did catch him looking back a couple of times).

He ended up beating me by about a minute and a half, and 35th in a field of 135 (boys 14 and under - he's eight). Very nice!

I ended up taking walk breaks every half mile, and then for the last mile decided to up them to every quarter-mile, so I could pick up my pace in between. Those breaks also coincided with the major turns in the route. At the last one an older man saw me walking and decided to be "encouraging". I would have been more sympathetic if I hadn't heard him haranguing his granddaughter about her pace earlier in the race. So I just said I knew what I was doing - and then passed him half a block later.

My final time was 30:16, for a 9:45 pace.

I always hope to finish a 5K in under 30 minutes, so yes, I was a little disappointed that I'd gotten so close and not done it. On the other hand, nothing from my running in the last half year would have suggested that I could have done as well as I did, so I'll take it as a win.

I found D right where we'd arranged to meet, though he was sitting on the ground so I had a moment of panic when I didn't see him. I think he's up for more 5Ks - he certainly liked the range of snacks afterwards. G did not have as good a time on this go-around and says he wants to do the Kids' Dash next year - but he's still very proud of his t-shirt. So maybe in a couple of years.

A very nice family excursion, and a good organization to be helping!

Slower than an 8-year-old,
Annie










Friday, April 21, 2017

Just Something I've Been Thinking About

There's a line in Macklemore's "White Privilege II" that goes
"We take all we want from black culture, but will we show up for black lives?"
That line echoes all the time in my head now.

So last fall I'm walking from work to the train station and I pass by Ditka's, a restaurant owned by legendary Bears coach Mike Ditka. And as always, they're piping out the most awesome selection of 60's soul music. I have been enjoying their playlist for years. It has never failed to give a little lift to my day.

Except last fall, Ditka went on national TV to give his opinion on Colin Kaepernick's protest of the national anthem.
"If they don't like this country, they don't like our flag, get the hell out, that's what I think." 
"And I don't see all the atrocities going on in this country that people say are going on."
Leaves a sour taste in my mouth, that's for sure. Meanwhile Marvin keeps asking "what's going on" while Sam tells us "I know a change is going to come", and I walk down the street wondering when.




Friday, April 14, 2017

Back In The Saddle

Well, it's been a bit of a rough start to the spring.

I'm usually pretty healthy, but there are a couple of recurring illnesses I am prone to, and I got hit with both this year. I'm still dealing with the last, a cold that settled into a lasting cough. From past experience this can take weeks to get rid of.

Oh, and our basement got flooded when the drains backed up. Tree roots in the sewer lines. Thankfully the lines themselves are still in good shape.

(I think that was actually the tipping point on my cough, all those hours of cleaning up with bleach and Lysol.)

We still haven't pulled the trigger on the last preventative flood measure (exterior sewer pipe access). There's a lot of work to be done on the house and we can't afford to do all of it this year. So we're still deciding what exactly is the most important thing to do first. Outside wiring or extra flood control? Hmm.

Have I mentioned I'm running the Chicago Marathon again this year? For the Chicago Lights team again.

I've decided this will be my last one. It will be marathon #5, that's a good number to go out on. And my third time raising money for Chicago Lights.

Thinking about it as my last one is helping me get excited about the training again.

I'm about a month behind where I wish I was with my running, but it's still early in the season. And I'm finally feeling well enough, despite the cough, to start working on mileage. It helps that it's Spring Break this week and I'm home a few days - that's given me some extra time in the morning for longer runs. And it helps - a lot! - that it's not so dark.

So, a lot on our minds. But! There's a lot to be thankful for, and I have been.

Doing well in Chicago (if a little wet, cold, and coughing) -
Annie

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Happy Birthday To Me

Some of you may know that The Dude's birthday present to me was tickets to the Pitchfork Music Festival, the closest I come to an annual spiritual retreat. So that's awesome. (Plus, A Tribe Called Quest! Plus, Solange!)

But the thing that's making me grin right now is the birthday present I bought myself. A book shelf. Or two, rather.

About 20" across and three feet high.
I stacked one on top of the other.
It fits right in a narrow gap of wall in our dining room, next to our other bookshelves. We'd been planning a trip to Ikea for several months and it kept not happening, so finally I gave up and just found these on Amazon. They're perfect.

And why another bookshelf? Aside from the obvious, of course, that we are always running out of space for our books, despite annual culling. What about this bookshelf makes me giddy?

This will be our genre bookshelf. This is where all our mystery and fantasy and science fiction is going. Right into the dining room, to have equal pride of place with the theater books and our literary fiction.

Which then frees up the bookshelf in my study so my comic books and romance novels and paranormal mysteries books can breathe. And I can see them and admire then and touch them. And love them.

And this means that all this week I get to handle books, sort them, rearrange them - which is absolutely one of my favorite things to do.

I'm excited just thinking about it.
Annie



Friday, February 24, 2017

Feeling Stupid And That's Okay

Earlier this week I got the opportunity to feel stupid. Like, really stupid.

(Note to self: when you reply to blog posts written by people you REALLY REALLY admire and you ask a question, make sure you give it the proper context. Otherwise the answer might have you going, "but, I totally knew that, and now I look stupid in front of this person I REALLY REALLY admire, and it's not a real conversation so there's no point in going back and trying to explain or defend or whatever". 'Cause it really isn't worth going back to it.)

Nope. I just got to sit with feeling stupid for a while. But it got me thinking about stuff I've been learning in the anti-racism trainings/study I've been doing, how one aspect of dominant white culture is the need to not be wrong. And how that can lead to all sorts of really ugly behavior, in some cases (ahem, our current president).

In my case it leads to not speaking up. To not asking questions. To not taking risks.

And thus to not being there, for myself or for my friends or for, oh, the world.

Ugh.

So, one of the things I'm actively working on is to go ahead and take risks in what I say. Which means learning to be comfortable with not being comfortable.

Even if that means sitting around feeling stupid for a while. And not acting/reacting in response to it. Because you know what? It's just a feeling. And I'll be fine.

Always learning,
Annie

*There's lots more I could say about this but I think these two posts cover it well.




Tuesday, February 21, 2017

I Want To Ride My Bicycle, I Want To Ride My Bike

A beautiful day here in Chicago yesterday (leaving aside that it shouldn't be 70 degrees in February), and we went, as a family, to the park on our bikes.

ON OUR BIKES. All of us. Well, not G, since one of his training wheels came off en route and we had to turn back to get his scooter instead. But we all started off on our bikes.

I haven't ridden a bike since, oh, I don't remember. And I haven't had one I liked since high school.

I'm not totally wild about this one, either. It's very... squishy. And heavy. And low. The minute I got on it I had the song Low Rider in my head. On the other hand, riding with G, I have to do a lot of sudden stops, so it's probably good to have a bike with serious shocks.

But I want to name her, so I guess I'm already smitten.

Technically, it's not my bike, it's being housed here while my sister-in-law lives overseas. So I can't mess it up with stickers or the like. I'm tempted to, though. I should just write her and ask if it's okay. Some Harley Quinn, maybe, a calavera (sugar skull). A crow, of course.

It was awesome, even riding down the city blocks with G, stopping every house or so. And then when we got to the park and I could drop G off with the others and just ride around for a while - GLORIOUS.

High on the wind in my hair,
Annie

*According to this blog, I had a bike and rode it in 2010. I don't remember what happened to that one, it's not the one I'm currently riding. It was not comfortable to ride, I remember that clearly.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Trying To Remember That February Always Drags

Not a lot of energy these days, and I'm finding that some of the time I would normally dedicate to keeping in touch with people (including this blog) is instead being spent on following the news (and then talking to people about the news). Bah.

Along those lines, have you seen the twitter feed for RoguePOTUSStaff yet? "The unofficial resistance team within the White House." Fascinating. And this winter we've been watching "West Wing" again so that makes for interesting discussion, comparing the two.

All this news watching makes me feel scattered. I've been telling others (because I need to tell myself) to remember to rest, to eat well, to draw strength from whatever works for you.

So poetry, of course, for me. Language(s). And then some art.

HPM-GOLD-2.jpg
by Ernesto Yerena Montejano, through his Hecho Con Ganas project 

And a special Valentine.

Image may contain: flower, plant and text
by Kate Madeira, posted on Afropunk
Wishing you a peace-filled and righteous February,
Annie

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Okay, Now I Really Want The Sun

I've been using my early morning runs as a time for prayer and meditation, since I won't wear headphones when it's dark. And that's great, it's a guaranteed time I might not set aside otherwise. I have set prayers I've memorized and then let my brain drift from them as needs be. For example, on a line about healing I might then think about those people I know in need of healing, physical or otherwise. So that's good.

But I gotta tell you, I miss my music. At this point, I am aching to be able to go out when the sky is beginning to turn, slip my tunes in, and run through the park without worrying about anything.

Waiting,
Annie

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Changing Skies

The light is changing.

On my way back home yesterday morning the sky was a deep periwinkle blue, instead of its recent heavy Prussian.

And if it hadn't been cloudy I might even have been able to see flashes of pink or orange, reflected on clouds or the undersides of gulls' wings.

It cheers me to think I may someday soon be able to finish my run in time with the sunrise, to watch the clouds change as I pass under, to see the sun flashing on the river, to go through the park freely.

The world turns and spring is coming. I know we may have two more months of snow (or possibly just rain, ice, and mud), but spring is on its way.

Which is good to remember, because winter is coming, winter is here.

Bleakly,
Annie

*And yes, that is a Game of Thrones reference.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

500

I've finally found a writing rhythm that seems to work for me. This includes the macro view of how I split my time up between work on my novel, poetry, journaling, correspondence, and yes, this blog, and the micro view of where I write (at the dining room table, in my study, cafes), when I write, and how (by hand or on the computer, depending on the kind of work I'm up to).

Right now I have a corner in my study where my decrepit old laptop lives. This is where the bulk of my work on the novel takes place, though I have a notebook I keep for it as well. The laptop can't keep a charge, so for a while every time I wanted to work on it I would have to wait while it started up again. But time is precious! I experimented with different locations in the house until I found I could work upstairs in my study, propped upright on the futon sofa. This meant I could just leave the laptop parked there and plugged in, saving me valuable moments. And today I determined that Tasha (our cat) is content to settle down next to me while I work, as long as I leave a blanket out for her and crack the curtain that serves as my study door. No more howling at doors, making me fear that she'll wake the other inhabitants.

And there I sit, tea at hand, plugging along for 500 words a day.

And some days it flows and others I sweat blood,
Annie

Friday, January 13, 2017

That White Privilege Thing

And, of course, I am aware that things might have gone differently for us at airport security if we had been:

  • black
  • brown
  • visibly Muslim
  • visibly queer
  • non gender-conforming
  • non English-speaking
  • disabled

Or any other way of not fitting in to Trump's America.

Maybe. Or maybe not, but that things might have been different for us based on who we appear to be wasn't something I had to think about in the moment. And I didn't. And that's not true for everyone.

I did think about these things when our Uber driver was pulled over on New Year's Eve. (He had new tags but hadn't put them on the car.) There was a moment's joking about jumping out of the car and running and all I could think was, Are you effing kidding me? That might be the difference between living in Chicago and living in a suburb of Denver - even if I personally don't have to worry about my interactions with police I know too many people who do, never mind the daily news.

Still pissed off that the Trib endorsed Gary Johnson,
Annie

And yes, "queer" is a loaded word, and I gave a lot of thought about whether to use it or go with the newspaper-friendly "gay/lesbian". But this isn't a newspaper, and it's how I identify, and so in the end it felt odder to me to not use it.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Hot Sauce Is A Liquid, and Jelly Is, Well, A Gel

We were in Denver over New Year's to visit my sister. That was a great trip and I suppose I should write about it sometime... but it also made me aware that we are not used to traveling by plane. Because while we were very careful about what toiletries to pack and not, and about not bringing bottles of water to the airport, it completely escaped my notice that the special bottles of hot sauce and homemade jellies we were bringing home, are, in fact, liquids/gels, and therefore cannot be in carry-on luggage.

Well.

After some discussion (carried out over a distance of twenty feet since we had two bags that got stopped and The Dude went ahead with the first bag and the first TSA guard while I waited - along with everyone else in line - for the people reading the machines to realize that the two bags belonged to the same family and that therefore the first guard wasn't, in fact, going to finish up with the first bag until the second bag was also brought over, which required bringing over a second TSA guard from a different line), we were able to repack all the questionable items into one bag, which The Dude then had to bring back through luggage check. Thankfully through all of this, the two TSA guards, while having their careful "I must not display any emotion" faces on, were actually quite patient and helpful and even gave G "assistant TSA badge" stickers when it looked like he might freak out. And we had come to the airport in plenty of time and so were not worried about missing our flight. The only real discomfort to come from this was that we had barely managed to close that suitcase in the first place and with the rearrangement of items there was no way of replicating that magic, so I got to carry a child-size life vest on the plane with me in my already overstuffed bags, along with our winter coats and everything G was now too overwhelmed to carry.

It's now been three out of four flights with the kids where we've managed to tick off fellow passengers, and the kids haven't been at fault for any of it. Bravo them. Not sure what that says about The Dude and me.

Thinking about the train next time,
Annie