Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What happens when I don't blog for a month

This evening, I went for a nice long-ish run through Madison Valley, arguably one of the nicest parts of Seattle, and ultimately down to the shores of Lake Washington. At the end of the road is a dock that pokes out over the lake. I was about 3.5 miles into my run at this point, and decided to sprawl out on the dock beneath the horizon-bound sun for a solid 10 or 15 minutes before continuing my run. To say that I felt grateful to be alive in that moment is an understatement.

This picture was not taken today, but this entry feels like a good excuse to share this shot I took about a month ago after running to Golden Gardens - yet another lovely Seattle park on the water.

The sky felt big today...full of those massive, puffy clouds that didn't mind sharing sky space with the sun - a rare breed here in Seattle. I had the dock to myself, and nothing but the sounds of the water lapping against its legs beneath me. The temperature was perfect lying-on-a-dock-in-a-sweaty-t-shirt-and-shorts weather. I could see to the tops of Cougar and Tiger Mountains both, my running playgrounds, and some of the snowy peaks in the North Cascades as well. Really lovely indeed. I couldn't stop thinking, I live here. I ran from my doorstep to this place. I live here.

I got together with Lu last week for dinner (Thai food, yum!) and dessert (Yogurtland, yum!) and a lot of overdue catching up. At some point, we got to talking about how easy it is to forget that Seattle is a city surrounded (not entirely, obviously) by water. Although a city of hills opens itself to the possibility of amazing vantage points and views in surprising places, there are also plenty of spots in the city that proffer no view of the water at all. My daily walk to work is one of them.

So, in keeping with the lyrics that inspired the name of this blog, I do appreciate the times I'm able to be near the water. It's a rare run I go on that doesn't have me running along, around, or over some body of water. I love it.

It has been a week of quiet, content moments like that, and catching up moments like the one over hot noodles and curry with Lu, and also a week of letting go and embracing change. As many of you know by now, I was offered a full time copywriting gig at REI Headquarters for the summer - an opportunity I am beyond thrilled about, though it has meant a swift departure from many other aspects of my daily life this past year.

In the span of two weeks, I went to my last (for now) web design class, my last (for now) in-office day at the magazine, and on Thursday, my last day (for now) selling shoes at the Seattle REI store. Although the goodbyes said this week are not permanent in the sense that anyone will be out of my life entirely...my day-to-day routine will indeed change drastically, and the faces I see at work every day won't be the same. The "goodbyes" of this week reflect the inevitable groan of change that happens in our lives, and dang, it's never easy, even when the changes are exciting.

Cobbling together part time jobs and classes and the occasional freelance contract project has made for an interesting, wonderful, and full (!) two years in Seattle, but I am hungry to try life on a regular schedule again.

Over a year ago, when I went through my last "Whoops, I have too much on my plate" crisis, I remember a conversation with my friend Tom about how being stressed out not only sucks up your time, but it also deprives you of creative flow. Without the ability to let your mind genuinely wander, unencumbered by the onerous need to constantly monitor your mental to-do list, making art or envisioning anything new at all is difficult. Creativity and innovation flow only once you've decluttered your brain enough to make room for their possibilities.

Happily, since being offered the job this summer and starting to wean myself off my current mosaic schedule, I have felt more balanced and content than I have in a long time. I haven't been stressed. I have read a bunch of books. (Ann Patchett! Toni Morrison! Hello again, world of literature!) I have had time for my friends and for myself, and it's been quite lovely indeed.

With Alan in town for nearly the entire month of May, we got in a lot of nice adventures, including a day of hiking and sunshine and waterfalls and breweries and bookstore browsing up in Bellingham.

Several weekends ago, Alan and Elodie and I spent the better part of our Saturday gorging ourselves on free cheese samples at Seattle's annual Wine and Cheese Festival at the iconic Pike Place Market. Did you catch the part about it being free? Drool. Alan and I came home and filled our fridge with blue cheese, young Gouda, coconut cheese (infused with coconut oil, for real!), smoked cheddar, and acted as temporary hosts to Elodie's trove of soft, stinky French camembert.

Homemade nachos with smoked cheddar. So much for my dairy and gluten avoidance.

I also managed to make it to two of four days of the 40th Annual Northwest Folklife festival - a big old hippie party at the Space Needle every year, that Seyeon took me to for the first time in 2005, and which was a big part of why I thought I'd love living in this city. Voted "Biggest Flower Child" by my peers in my high school yearbook, is it really any surprise I went to Oberlin College and eventually wound up here?

Let's see...what else? Two evenings of dinner parties with good friends in a row - Kate and Jeff's Memorial Day deck warming party, complete with grilled burgers and mini cheesecake tarts, and Megan and David's kitchen warming/anniversary party, complete with spicy Thai soup, chocolate-covered strawberries, and the best homemade bread, made by my favorite Dutch mother currently living in the continental U.S.

Sunset last night from Dave and Megan's living room window.

Speaking of delicious food, Lauren and I hit up the brand new Skillet Diner on Capitol Hill; I'm definitely becoming one of those urban foodie divas that wants to try out all the hot foodie spots. Aiee. Seriously though...plaid shirts on all the wait staff, beer and wine in mason jars, damn good fries, and again, all within walking distance of home.

Earlier in the month, Alan and I trekked up to the small, old navy town of Port Gamble with the Outdoors NW crew for the Beast Adventure Triathlon. 6 miles sea kayaking, 16 miles mountain biking, and an embarrassingly short 5K trail run at the end...Neal, being the rockstar he is, covered the first two legs of the tri, before I took over for the final brief running leg. The weather was miserably characteristic of the Northwest, so we both got wet and cold, but (well, I speak for myself) had a blast nonetheless.

The mountain biking part was very hardcore.

Coming down the finishing chute!

Team ONW!

I've gone for some lovely runs with friends, including exploration of the water tower at Volunteer Park with Zanna (4.5 stars on trusty Yelp; go read about how people give themselves heart attacks climbing the stairs for the best free view of Seattle, then imagine the two of us RUNNING up those flights...heck yes), and my first time cruising around Carkeek Park with Ron - a sweet morning run sandwiched between delicious, raw, Incan-superfood-charged smoothies. Why am I friends with so many men (well, two at least) who eat weirder things than me, run in Vibram Fivefingers, speak with exclamation marks, and have adorable little boys I wish I could hang out with all the time? Life is good.

Summer is in the air, and I am grateful as ever to be alive and here. Hello June!

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