Sunday, January 31, 2010

Workin' and runnin' with the boys

Friendly deer on Orcas Island
So, I'll try to make this entry as non-running-obsessed as possible...

...but I'm probably going to fail miserably! Bear with me... So I went up to Orcas today to do some trail restoration work with other volunteers from the upcoming race next weekend. My alarm went off at 4:25 a.m., and an hour later, I was hopping in a car with two strangers with whom I'd coordinated a carpool up from Seattle - Don and Glenn. Both proved to be wonderful company for the ride up there. Don's done adventure racing and a handful of marathons, but this will just be his second ultra. Glenn gave up running races himself (with nearly 200 marathons under his belt...) to shoot them instead. He'll be photographing the race next weekend. While he and Don had crossed paths several times over the years (the ultrarunning community in the Northwest is incestuously small), they really hadn't caught up in over a decade, so it was fun to be a part of their "reunion."

We got there in plenty of time to grab a cup of coffee at the ferry landing in Anacortes and make quick friends with the passengers in the other cars bearing the requisite "26.2" and "140.6" bumper stickers. In total, there were about twenty of us who turned out to volunteer. Already on the ferry ride over to the island, I felt at home with these folks - chatting it up about all my favorite subjects: running, good food, and the Northwest in general.

The work itself involved a lot of getting dirty - slogging through ridiculously sloppy mud, wielding shovels, gathering rocks, aesthetically rearranging gargantuan logs, and essentially remaking an entire stretch of trail that wasn't draining properly. With the guidance of a geologist, we dug trenches where necessary, narrowed out and semi-rerouted the trail, rebuilt up the soil, bolstered the whole thing with rocks, and built up a bit of a gravel path where we could to assist in draining. It was awesome to examine the whole thing with the eye of an engineer - If it rains for three days straight, where is the water going to flow? How can we prevent the trail from flooding in a worst case scenario? I'll never look at trails the same way again.

In progress.
My favorite thing about ultra runners is their love for food. When our lunch break rolled around, people didn't just pull out a sandwich. They pulled out one of those huge Ziploc bags with three, four, five sandwiches inside. Or a round of focaccia bread the size of a large frisbee. Bags of peanut butter vegan cookies. Yes, yes, I thought, these are definitely my kind of people.

My other favorite thing about them is that most of them are in their thirties, forties, fifties...there's a 72-year-old registered for the 50K! There was a couple, both 60, that came out for the work party today, who'd met at a triathlon years ago and have done all kinds of crazy 100-milers (etc.) together in the time since. Several of the forty-somethings commented on what an inspiration it was that they still had at least twenty years left in this fabulous sport. Doing the math on that for myself made me feel all the more psyched than I already am. Which is indescribably awesome. I feel like a child who's just stumbled into a magical world long before I was supposed to find out about it. What a paradise trail running is!

After we finished up trail work, we drove up to the top of Mount Constitution and climbed the tower there (the run next weekend crests the mountain, but it being a race, there won't be time for much tower-climbing or all too much sightseeing, of course.) The view was quite foggy, but still stunning to look out over all the water, the surrounding islands, and even Vancouver BC way off in the distance.

From there, we drove back to our base camp, where we figured out we'd missed the last ferry off the island for the next four hours - so we did the next most logical thing, which was all change into running gear and go for a little trail run around the island. There were seven of us, and I was the only female, the only one who'd never run 30+ miles before, and the only one worried out of my mind that I'd fail miserably to keep up...but we kept the pace slow and gentle, even on the uphills, and I wound up having a blast running with them - through gorgeous old-growth forest, around crystal clear lakes, by stunning waterfalls. Seriously. The Northwest knows how to do islands.

When we got back from that, we stood around talking and laughing and gorging on bananas and sour cream and onion chips for awhile before deciding to go back to the ferry landing, where I had a giant bowl of clam chowder and a big, refreshing glass of Fat Tire Ale. Over dinner, we were regaled with the (often hilarious) tales of various crazy ultras that people had done - ranging from the grueling 135-mile Badwater Ultramarathon through Death Valley in July to a 100-miler that James, the race director for Orcas, had run in which he and the other two guys vying for second place all bonked at about mile 80 and were in various stages of miserable comatose-ness at the aid station. Good times.

These guys give me craziness to aspire to.
Anyway, the sunset was pretty awesome, too:

I'd say that island + running + beer + sunset = unbeatable.
And talk about being inspired by others! Yet another awesome thing about the ultra community in general is that it's small enough that the elites are standing right next to the slower folks and newbies on the starting line. In a regular road race, if there's even a well-known name or two in the race at all, there could still well be 30,000 people standing between you and that athlete. But in a trail run, you're right there in the same place. I felt that way even today, on my little run on the trails with guys who've run for 25 hours straight before, who routinely race sub-3-hour marathons, and have done some of the most grueling, hallowed ultramarathons in the world. What an honor to go for an afternoon jog with them (on a beautiful island, to boot!)

Granted, ultrarunning doesn't get nearly the press coverage that road racing does...and road racing already gets only a fraction of the media coverage that other sports do. (Ann Trason, Scott Jurek < Paula Radcliffe, Alberto Salazar < LeBron James, David Beckham.) But the lack of recognition from the general populace doesn't stop these guys from garnering the respect, awe and admiration of those in the ultra community itself.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Boot camp continues

Last-minute trail-running boot camp continues. (Yes, I know this is a terrible way to prepare for a race. I'm just really excited, and can't help myself.)

So, yesterday was intended to be my last big run day before next weekend. I would have loved to have gone out to Cougar Mountain again and done a long, rolling trail run with a lot of elevation, but unfortunately, I had to be at work at 11 a.m., and Cougar Mountain is just far enough away that a decent run out there before work was implausible. So I did my best to work with what the city has to offer instead, and plotted out a 12.5 mile course around Seattle, hitting up as many steep hills as I could possibly cram into one run - though promising myself I'd take it slowly.

What I did instead was a full 16-mile run with a couple miles worth of hill sprints about 9 miles in, at Gasworks Park, and still, my average overall pace was a full two minutes per mile faster than the last time I did a long, hilly run. Granted, I was primarily on roads this time, and roads are always faster than trails, but my gosh how wimpy and manageable all the city hills seemed after spending the last couple weeks trying to run up mountains!

Today, as I wrote before, I was up at 6 a.m. (for the second day in a row, woohoo!) to get out to Issaquah to proctor an SAT for a room full of bleary-eyed high schoolers. I packed all my running gear and my favorite trail-running guide to western Washington *just in case* I felt like cramming in a bit more last-minute elevation training.

Turns out I did. This time, I went for West Tiger 3, one of six peaks in the 13,500-acre Issaquah Alps. It only got a 3 (of 5) "Pain" rating in the guide (as opposed to Mount Si, which got a 5), despite climbing 2,000 feet in just a few short miles with pretty much relentlessly steep uphill trekking. It was a bit rockier than Si as well, and given that it's been raining all day long here too, I definitely had to take the downhill a bit slower to make sure I didn't slip on wet rocks or twist an ankle in the sloppy mud. Taking the uphill slowly wasn't such a conscious just happened. The good news, though, is that I ran for 2 whole miles uphill before having to stop and take a rest! (Compared, again with Si, where I was lucky if I could string together a 30-second segment of actual running before breaking down into a hunched-over, discouraged trudge.) And then I made it up pretty much the rest of the way actually running, except for the last really steep, incredibly rocky chute to the summit.

Apparently on a clear day, you can see Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, Puget Sound, and the entire Seattle skyline all from the top. I will definitely have to go back another time for all that! Instead, I reached the summit and found myself enshrouded in fog and complete silence, save the gentle pit-pat of the rain hitting my rain jacket. I sat down on a rock for awhile to appreciate the solitude, and the simple joys of fresh air and rain and my breath, before turning around and beginning my roller coaster of a ride back down to the bottom.

All in all, a good start to my weekend. 5 a.m. wakeup call tomorrow morning to leave for volunteering on Orcas! No pictures from today (cameras and rain, a bad combination), but hopefully some soon. And maybe also soon an entry that doesn't just obsess over running... :)

P.S. My latest work for OutdoorsNW: Click me!

(Photo courtesy of ONW.)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Balmy January invites cookies, flasks, & a whole lot of running

(I'm skipping the obligatory apology for not updating in awhile...)

Sunrise in Seattle, as seen from my living room window.

The January warmth continues here in the Northwest - another 55-degrees-and-sunny day today. And yesterday. Despite work keeping me busy, I've taken a fair amount of advantage of the nice days. It's been well over a month since I've set foot inside 24 Hour Fitness here, despite a gym membership being on my list of "non-negotiables" when I first moved out here, broke as I was. But I don't particularly miss the stifling, sweaty gym environment - at least not when there's fertile soil and crisp air and mountains and sunshine on the other side of the glass. Kansas City's brutally humid summers and Ohio's brutally cold winters made me forget that in some places, playing outdoors is not a seasonal privilege.

This weekend (after a 7:45 a.m. SAT proctoring session for 75 high schoolers out east in Issaquah), I will be trekking up solo to the San Juan Islands to do some volunteer trail work and restoration, and scout out the scenery for my 25K there the following weekend. Hopefully should have some good photos from the adventure...

Last week, a good bunch of us from REI trekked up to Rattlesnake Ledge at night. I'd never really done a night hike before, but given solid advice on night hike protocol by my seasoned coworkers, I packed for the occasion:

The cookies were a plus. Other folks brought: more cookies, McDonald's cheeseburgers, snap pea crisps, beef jerky...

The beer (Great Lakes' Christmas Ale, all the way from Cleveland - courtesy of Alan's thoughtful kindness this past Christmas, knowing of my undying love for the stuff) was less of a good idea. Everybody else, wisely, had bottles of wine, flasks of scotch and bourbon, and Nalgenes of unidentified mystery liquids - basically, beverages that don't leave you learning for a port-a-potty when you're on top of a mountain. Oh and learn. I still enjoyed my Xmas Ale.

This is what we climbed up to the top of:

(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.)

And by night, here's what the view looks like:

...with a 60-second exposure.

Despite a bit of a rainy start to that day, the night wound up being perfect. A little chilly at the top, but clear enough to see thousands of stars that you inevitably miss out on living in a city, and an all-around beautiful evening to share with new friends.

The crew.

Other adventures of the week include an 11.5-mile trail run with Tom and his friend Laszlo on Cougar Mountain out east, a solo 25K run along Lake Washington and along some urban trails, a MovNat session up in Shoreline yesterday, and an urban night run around Capitol Hill last night with a container of cookies in search of my friend Jenica's apartment for a night of microbrews & Talking Heads & playing games & eating cookies (obviously a big part of my life this week.) I was also all set to go for a long road bike ride with friends on Monday, and go snowshoeing at the foot of Mount Rainier today - but life got in the way of both of those, unfortunately, as it's been a bit of a crazy week in Yitka's Freelance Life...but there will be opportunities again, undoubtedly.

Finally, Oberlin Run-ins of the Week: Walking down a misty street on Capitol Hill one early morning and only running into one other person on the sidewalk, who happened to be none other than Emma, who graduated in the same class at Oberlin as I. of the students I'm tutoring looked me up on Facebook and saw that we had a mutual friend - someone whom I knew from meeting at the Oberlin alumni picnic this summer, and my student knew because it was his biology teacher from last year. Awesome.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Another beautiful day in the mountains

Cascadias and me, atop Big Si.

The saga of my shoes continues, as I talked my way in to a last-minute spot in a 25K trail race in a few weeks that goes up and down Mount Constitution in the San Juan Islands. 25K is approximately 15.53 miles - should be nothing, given that I ran a full 26.2 a couple months ago?

WRONG. Trail running is a different beast entirely, and I'm now breaking all the cardinal rules of training in hopes that I can whip my butt into shape for this thing in the next seventeen days. I have done approximately no serious trail runs in my life except for my meager little 4.5-miler up Little Si last week. (In other dumb, overzealous news in my outdoorsy life this week, I've been hobbling around with sore calves for the past two days after doing an overly ambitious (but awesome in the moment!) 7-miler in my Fivefingers...) And so today, with the sun shining brilliantly and nearly 60-degree weather, I once again drove out to North Bend in hopes of tackling the quad-and-calf-busting 8.5 miler up and down the full, 4100-foot-tall Mount Si.

This picture courtesy of Wikipedia. No, I saw no cows today.

One of my coworkers, Ali, is really into trail running, and is determined to convert me from my road-running ways. And I can see why; the views are more spectacular, the race fees much lower, and the sport as a whole just a lot humbler and quieter than all the flashy-fanfare of road races. Not that I'll ever stop doing road races altogether, as running Cleveland is high on my priority list for the spring...but I can certainly see the appeal of trail running.

Ali's take on it is, "You don't race against the clock. You just try to survive and get yourself across that finish line."

That might seem a little dramatic, but I can honestly say, after today, it's absolutely accurate. On the way up Si, I felt pretty much mentally on par with where I was during miles 22-26 of my marathon: absolutely drained, weak, trying to run but my body deciding at its own whim to walk instead, hunched over, heaving for breath, miserable, wallowing in the depths of discouragement, wondering why the hell I put myself through this kind of stuff. I doubt if I "ran" more than 15% of the whole way up, hiking in the intervals between and feeling totally discouraged about what I've signed myself up for.

But...the camaraderie of other hikers helps. As I was running up, I'd pass guys coming down who'd say things like, "It's really windy at the top; watch out for it!", and know, then, that I had to make it up there. Turning back simply wasn't an option. But I sure felt like it! The winds, indeed, were really intense around the top, and somehow, being up there with nothing but my sneakers, a light jacket, and a little Camelbak strapped to my back...made the wind seem scarier?

The views at the top, however, were awe-inspiring. My camera doesn't do any of them justice, but:

And then...dessert: running back down the mountain. The whole, glorious 40-minute way down, I hit the biggest runner's high ever, leaping over roots and rocks and pounding the dirt and switchbacks faster than I ever run on flat ground. I couldn't stop thinking about two things: (1) how similar trail running is to snowboarding in certain ways: your heart nearly explodes through your chest from pounding so hard, and you're burning holes through your muscles, but you don't care, because the adrenaline rush is so powerful. You don't stop. The wind against your face, the stunning views, the tree-dodging, the trust you put into your speed...and you hit the bottom, exhilarated and your legs shaky and about to collapse out from under you. Glorious!!! The big difference is just that with snowboarding, you get a free lift to the top; with trail running, you run your ass off in order to earn your ride down.

My (2) thought was how amazing the human brain is. It's capable of absorbing so much visual information about my environment so quickly, and making split-second, unconscious decisions about each and every footfall, as my eyes were already ten steps ahead, navigating what was to come, instead of the ground beneath my feet. So awesome.

Miraculously, I made it the whole way down without any scrapes or falls or twisted ankles...and I even got a bit of a (horribly shaky, sorry!) video to capture the experience as best I could on camera: (It gets fun about 20 seconds in, when you can start to hear my individual footsteps and my labored breathing...)

P.S. Headline today in the Seattle Times: Could Be Seattle's Warmest January Ever.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Test driving my new shoes

One of the really nice perks of my job is the opportunity to buy gear directly from vendors at a deeply discounted rate. Admittedly, it's a dangerous perk - but one that, given that a good deal of my annual budget goes toward running/outdoorsy gear already, is most appreciated. My Christmas presents to myself this year were some new footwear - the aforementioned Vibram Fivefingers, a few pairs of Injini toe socks to accompany them, and a pair of the new Brooks Cascadia 5's - a trail running shoe partially designed by Seattle's own (and my longtime hero) ultrarunner Scott Jurek.

All the new colors of the Cascadia 5's look fairly hideous online. I finally settled on what I considered to be the least hideous color of all - a scheme that Brooks likes to call "Spicy Wasabi/Cedar/Black/Silver/Pavement"...whatever that means! In the flesh, the shoes look quite different than online - I've gotten everything from "algae" to "pond scum" to "pistachio" from various coworkers I polled. (It's impossible to walk anywhere in these guys without commentary.) Regardless, they're *slightly* less hideous than I thought they'd be, which is a bummer, as it'll tempt me to wear them around in daily life - generally a bad idea if I'm looking to extend their shelf life as a useful, technical shoe for running up and down mountains.

Sitting atop a small peak, overlooking the Cascades

But! I have taken them out for several exciting test runs this week. The first was a fairly spur-of-the-moment, total impulse run up Little Si a couple days ago before I had to go into work for REI's overnight inventory. I threw an apple, a bottle of water, and a rain jacket into a backpack and took off for North Bend, a small town about 30 miles east of Seattle, and notably, home of the infamous "Twin Peaks" show. It took me about an hour to run to the top (hiking/walking about 30% of the uphill, as this was my first real attempt at a technical trail run) and back down again (so much fun on the way down!). The views from the top were nice:

Today, the Cascadias got to come along for a sweet ride. Several friends from work and I went mountain biking in an obscure old logging forest, also about 35 miles outside of Seattle. There were literally thousands of acres of old growth forest, and all still in their full, lush glory, because so many trees in the Northwest are evergreens or moss-covered or whatever else that manages to survive, green and vibrant, all winter long! We stuck mostly to old logging roads - easier than any real technical mountain trails, but still a big, rocky, gravelly, and occasionally hilly mess for which I was infinitely grateful to have the mountain bike Jeff loaned me. We had the entire forest to ourselves for the five or so hours we were out, with some sporadic rain that made the whole day a muddy pit of fun.

Album from the day:


Picture of the day? Jeff rides ahead into the sunlight.

Territorial view.

Sandwich-and-bourbon break!

Waterfall/cascading river/mountains/trees. Yes please!

Muddy legs. Shoes still fluorescently pondscum-like.

Jenica and me, 37 miles later.

Doing this definitely beat going to work. Although hours are way down now that the holidays are over, I'm enjoying every minute of the free time I finally have after a long push through the hard stuff!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Better than a Saturday at Costco

White chocolate mocha, Zeitgeist Coffee

For Christmas this year, one of my presents for Alan was one of Jane and Michael Stern's foodie bibles: 500 Things to Eat Before It's Too Late. It's basically a guidebook to the whole country and good eats all over it, along the interstates and side roads. Naturally, I looked up what tasty things are to be had in Seattle - and thus came across this week's Cup o' Joe...Zeitgeist Coffee in the historic Seattle neighborhood of Pioneer Square, earmarked by the Sterns as one of the best cups of coffee in the country. Pioneer Square is not somewhere I get down to too often, but with multiple out-of-town visitors this week, I managed to spend quite a bit of time there. We meandered through the rainy cobblestone streets, the creaky wooden floors of Elliott Bay Books, the waterfront cafes, the little novelty shops, the infamous semi-outdoor Pike Place Market with fresh fruit, flying fish, and local artisan goods.

The multitude of free samples (ranging from cocoa-coated Rainier cherries to freshly baked baguettes dipped in blackberry vinaigrette to slices of locally grown Honey Crisp apples) caused my dad referred to the market as "Better than a Saturday at Costco."

Anyway, Zeitgeist was good - but in the same way that most Seattle coffeeshops I go to are good. I may have to change up my Monday tradition at some point, as I'm beginning to learn there's a pretty solid formula most Seattle coffeeshops adhere to, and the more cafes I go to, the less unique any of them seem. Zeitgeist had the exposed brick, the the chalkboard menu, the local artwork on the walls, the fancy espresso drinks in little cups, the good indie background music...

Okay, the showcased artwork was especially awesome - complete books artistically altered in geometric ways and mounted on glass shelves for display.

Where did the formula come from? The answer to that lies, too, in the heart of Pike Place Market. I hadn't been there before, but my dad and I made a touristy stop at the original Starbucks store:

A far cry from modern Starbucks!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Free your feet, and your mind will follow.

Yesterday was fantastic. Just a perfect Seattle day, in every way. I only worked a short shift in the morning - so my whole day didn't disappear, but I still got the pleasure of seeing many of my favorite people, and getting to do what I've honestly come to love - impart knowledge and help outfit people for their worldly adventures in the great outdoors!

Got off work, changed into running gear, and made the short and scenic drive up to Shoreline to meet up with Tom for further trail running and playing in the woods. For the first time, I tried out my brand new Vibram Fivefingers - a crazy but generally awesome innovation designed to help your feet mimic barefoot motion, but still get protection underfoot from the elements. The first word out of my mouth about ten seconds into our run was, "Ow." I felt everything. I described the experience as that feeling you get when you get a rock in your shoe, except there were a dozen of them, and no getting rid of them.

This is what they look like.

With that said, though, there's something cool about being that...ONE, for lack of a better word...with your environment. Seyeon's gotten really into running in Fivefingers, not to mention a good many of my coworkers. (Though for every one of them who swears by them, there's another ten who shun the things as though they're the devil's creation, and upon figuring out I got myself a pair, will undoubtedly denounce me as a lost and brainwashed soul, looking like a complete dork to boot.)

As Tom and I were climbing around and balancing on rails in the park, we did get asked by a guy walking by how we liked them. He'd had a friend or two who'd gotten some and loved them. I have this conversation twenty-five times a day with customers at work, as REI is the only place in a 500-mile radius that carries the Fivefingers, and we get more questions about them than just about anything else in the department (though UGG boots (i.e. glorified socks, priced at a hefty $140-$220/pair) are a close second. *Sigh.*)

Anyway. I needed that run, badly. The sun, the mountains, the forest, the joyous ache in my muscles for working new ones amidst the trees... Sinking my toes into the damp forest ground by Hidden Lake wasn't too shabby either. I think I'm going to like this "barefoot" running thing.

As I drove back into the city, I witnessed one of the most stunning sunsets I've ever seen. Words nor pictures can even begin to do it justice, but I did get off at a random exit to surge to the top of a hill and try, at least:

My dad's in Seattle now for the weekend (after a harrowing 26 hour trip to get here - damn you, Midwest snow!), so I'm looking forward to a few more days off from work, explorations, adventures, good food, and getting to share this lovely city with someone I love! Happily, I got to do just that last week, too, as Shari spent a few unexpected extra days in Seattle with me, and even though I had to work through a good deal of them, we had a good time staying up, catching up, and eating chocolate pasta.

Lastly...Oberlin and Kansas Run-ins of the Week:
1. Running into Celeste from Harkness Co-op at the local Trader Joe's
2. Sean, whom I played intramural soccer with, showing up to REI with his whole family
3. Randomly hopping on a bus in the U-District only to find Lu, my fellow Muser from high school, on it!
4. Haven't run into each other yet, but my elementary school friend Caitlin just moved to Seattle this week - cheers!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Time as an antidote.

Every New Year's Eve since the dawn of Y2K, I've sat down at my computer and in a few fitful, frantic hours of self-reflection, poured out anywhere from 5 to 15 pages worth (single-spaced, 10 pt font) of memories from the past year, resolutions and hopes and fears for the next, predictions, memorable songs and movies and books of the year...and, in recent years, a big meme-esque survey with information like General Mood, Newest Friend(s), Last Big News Item, Last Thing Eaten, etc. My only rule is that aside from the Resolutions list, I'm not allowed to look at or read my entry again until New Year's Eve 365(/6) days later.

So what does all this mean? The 10th birthday of my New Year's Eve entry tradition this year! And it means that aside from a couple years in there whose entries I lost in a computer transfer, I have a record of where I've been at the beginning of every new year for the last decade - not just physically, but emotionally, too.

For the first time last year, I didn't put running a marathon on my list of goals for the year. Instead, I backed it down to "Run my first official half-marathon." And check it out - jinxes aside, I pulled off both a half and a full one! In other goals/resolutions from my 2008 entry that I actually managed to accomplish in 2009:
- Get a satisfying, well-paying fulltime job (Well, 1/3 isn't bad in this economy, right?)
- Move someplace new (Mission accomplished!)
- Be a terrific girlfriend to Alan
- Get something published somewhere (Thank you, Carolyn, for all the opportunities!)
- Keep up better with current events in the world (Still some room for improvement here...)
- See my mom

Cha-ching! Check.

Last year, I was in Kansas, in interim between Ohio as a college student and Ohio as a recent grad...

Two years ago, I was in London, drinking black tea and playing Scrabble and Guggenheim all day long...

Three years ago, I was on the verge of my road trip down to New Orleans to rebuild homes...

Four years ago, I was in Colorado with my dad on a snowboarding trip...

Five years ago, in Kansas again, shooting off fireworks with Katharina and her family, long before she'd married and moved to Europe with Ryan, before my parents got divorced, before I even knew that I'd be going to Oberlin College, before I'd met Daniel or Shari or Ruth or Becca, before my mom had moved back to Holland, before Dick's Sporting Goods, just a few short months after having met Seyeon...

It's ridiculous how much changes in so little time. And yet, to some extent, acknowledging that is comforting. If you feel stuck now, the possibilities are endless, given the power of a bit of a time.

This year, I was in Seattle, and got to spend New Year's with Alan. We went out to Seyeon's favorite bar in Seattle, a place on Capitol Hill called Linda's Tavern - a great local spot with a western saloon vibe and a huge selection of Northwest microbrews, good music, great bar grub, an outdoor terrace that I'm sure is nice in warmer months. We had a couple drinks there before being joined by Zanna and her friend Leveda, with whom we trekked all the way through a rainy downtown to the Space Needle.

We got there just in time to swim in with the crowds a few blocks away and catch the fireworks show at midnight. It was pretty spectacular, and made better still by the iconically sentimental value the Space Needle holds for me by now. I've been in this city for nearly half a year now, but something about the fireworks that night felt very much like, "Woohoo! The beginning of your first full year in Seattle!"

I sure hope it's going to be a good one. I feel like it is, though...

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy 2010, everybody! Blog entry regarding New Year's festivities forthcoming soon...