I have a standing joke with my roommate that when I go for a run, I am actually going for a “clomp.” It originated with a story that I told about my stride not exactly being the same between both foots, due to an old injury that I sustained from running into a UPS truck (more on that later) in high school. Apparently, a small fracture in one foot and years of inactivity can lead to relative irregularity in a running stride. My right foot is fine- a normal stride from heel to toe, but for a while my left foot refused to participate in that whole heel-to-toe business and would just land firmly on the ground in a CLOMP. My story produced a good laugh and a new verb. Now I no longer go for a run, but for a clomp.

This clomping thing is new for me, and I think I am only now becoming aware of its benefits and my successes in it. I have never been a runner or been interested in the sports that require any kind of stamina. (Soccer? Basketball? Cross-country?) I didn’t understand the allure of the experience in running,  the dedication that it required. I was a volleyball girl, a softball girl, where short spurts of energy were key and running was used to increase endurance in the interim. In the beginning, I had no illusions that I would suddenly be able to run a marathon (hell, a 5K is scary) and I was actually altogether afraid of beginning this running practice.

A sign on my computer at work that says “BREATHE” represents the lesson that diminished that fear and made me actually believe that a 5K was possible. It is a lesson that comes in handy when I am trying to rush through a difficult task there. And it is applicable here as well as in my newly begun yoga practice. Breathing is central in both activities and crucial for success. Focusing on breath, I’m learning, is what gets you through.To come from clomping and breathing laboriously after only 60 seconds of running to now running (full strides!) much further and longer than that is a testament to the way my body is strengthening through consistent, focused activity.

As I was running today I wondered how many other parts of my life are defined by an inconsistent clomp and an unfair expectation of being able to achieve without slow, gentle persistence. The answer is that almost every area of my life seems rushed and unfocused. I am glad that there are things like running to remind me to stop, breathe, and focus.

There was a time when I was working in a retail job with a sweet older lady. We were askin’ the normal get-to-know-ya questions, and it had come out that I liked to cook and wasn’t so shabby at the sport. So she asked me, are you married? Dating? When I said no, her reaction made me laugh. Incredulous, you could say. She just couldn’t believe that a man hadn’t latched on to that idea.

I’m here to tell ya, friends. It’s a cryin’ shame, a real shame, cause some of the things that come out of my kitchen make my mouth water. Sometimes, I just want to pack it up and take it on over to the neighbors and say “SEE, LOOK WHAT I DID!!” At one point somebody did say that what I made was “slap your gramma” good- Sorry, Gramma, that’s not at all about you. It’s nothin’ fancy but worth sharing when you’re in a good mood about it all.

In an ode to my new salad spinner, courtesy of the sweetest guest on the planet, I conquered a formerly uncharted territory: that thing known as coleslaw. Apparently I didn’t buy lettuce at the grocery store, but cabbage?

Here goes nothin’:

About half that head o’cabbage (chopped? grated? thinly sliced? you choose.) +

some leftover dill (maybe 1/4 cup, chopped up nice) +

half a cucumber (no seeds!) sliced on a mandolin or w/ a knife (my roommate’s scared of mine so I have to use it when she’s not around)

about half a carrot, sliced thinly

some onion- whatever you have. I chopped it but i think it would be pretty kinda thinly sliced

1/2 cup mayo (three wallops of the spoon was what I used)

a little bit of milk or half and half or cream

about 2.5 Tbsp of sugar

about 2 Tbsp cider vinegar or any kind

salt and pepper (if you’re like me, everything has LOTS of pepper. but not many people are.)

SPIN that cabbage to clean it, add the dry goods, and then mix the wet ones together and shake it up. Resist the urge to make a homemade burger or burn a hot-dog to go along. Or don’t. You know, whatever- it was all spur of the moment and you can’t always get what you want. I’m eating it with some grilled chicken and another kicker- collards.

You know, I just love that I’m from the South.

Peaches,

E

 

 

 

On the subject of Canada, the recent riots, and the ‘Cash Cab’ craziness, my roommate pauses for a moment, and then says “What’s that aboot?”

Today I’m feeling particularly sad. I have come up against moments in the past days and weeks that make me feel, among other things, helpless in the face of mountains of the experiences of my own life and the experiences of others. Last night I sat with a friend at the gazebo at my apartment, talking about heartache and disappointment. I noticed a spider spinning a web at the top of the gazebo, under the light that shone down to light it up. Here I want to resort to empty phrases like ‘we watched in awe’ and  ‘we were inspired’ but the lasting impression that the moments of watching the spider in her delicate task of creating a web (in an effort to feed herself) was that it seemed very natural.

Sadness, in its inexplicable vastness, has come to feel very natural to me. I don’t feel sad most days and I don’t feel incapable of joy. Instead I am struck by moments- spiders spinning their webs, siblings fighting, rain falling tentatively on pavement, and then furiously. I belt out a song in my car that cuts through to incredible pain, but the vocal cords are satisfied. I’m satiated by the aroma of fresh basil in my fridge. I hug my friends with a new ferocity.

Thomas Merton:

There is in all things an invisible fecundity, a dimmed light, a meek namelessness, a hidden wholeness. This mysterious Unity and Integrity is Wisdom, the Mother of all. There is in all things an inexhaustible sweetness and purity, a silence that is a fount of action and joy. It rises up in wordless gentleness and flows out to me from the unseen roots of all created being, welcoming me tenderly.

I don’t give into the sadness and feel as if it will engulf me. Instead, I provide space. I move over a bit on my bench, give a little room for it to wait for me as the bus arrives at the bus stop. I marvel with it at the way the light shines through the trees. I nudge it, I growl at it, I peer over my glasses skeptically. But I give it space.

and Lord help you in your place

of hope, and improbables

-Mary Olver

(inspired by this)

Seeing:

dozens of sunflowers greeting me on the drive to work

Tasting:

grilled zucchini and fish tacos

Hearing:

my computer working far too hard

Smelling:

cilantro

Feeling:

the humidity of summer sneaking in

Today, I put cinnamon on my brussel sprouts. I laughed, and then I realized: I like who I am in the kitchen.

I like that messes accumulate. I like that I make mistakes and laugh about them. I love that I’m not quite sure what I’ll create, but I start creating anyway. I like that I have no concept of how much water I’ll ‘waste’ by washing the unnecessary dishes that I use in each new venture. I like that I open a cabinet and pull out four or five ingredients and sprinkle a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I like the familiarity of the utensils, the people they remind me of, the recipes that I review. I like the flourish of throwing ingredients in bowls, of cutting vegetables, of smelling herbs. I like feeling domestic. I like feeling connected to every other person who has fixed a meal for themselves of others. I like imagining what I’ll do with the leftovers, thinking of new recipes.

I like who I am in the kitchen.

It’s been a long time since I’ve felt the need to write. I think sometimes in my life writing has been a necessity, a grounding force, something that if disappeared, if it wasn’t present, anchoring me, I’d fly away like a balloon that a toddler forgot to hold onto. Momentous times in my life bring this necessity back to me with unnerving strength. It’s like a hot wind with such magnitude that I forget to breathe. And the only way to get my breath back is to write. To write furiously, the words coming with such force, almost spewing out of me- erupting. I can never keep up, I’m just holding on.

I want refinement in so many ways, but the mess is what anchors me. I played a game like Speed Scrabble with a friend the other night, and in the fury of trying to beat her in using all of the letters in my possession, I became distracted by the words that formed. I had forgotten about this word, or that, and I was suprised, excited that they were visiting me again. I want words to come visit me, to come live with me and sit, in my presence, to give me the pleasure of tasting them, sitting on my tongue and then placing them with my pen strokes on this paper where they’ll live for a while. I have to remember to spend time with them, these words. Not in spoken form, not regulated by pixels or soundbites, but typecast and laughing on the pages where they’re happiest. It’s the words that inspire me.

I feel anxious and awakened at the beginning of this week and this new year. I feel unquiet, I feel restless. Powerful and powerless at the same moment, unknowing of how to wield my power. I feel the pressure of years-future pressing hotly on the insecurities, immobilities, and inabilities of the present. I feel, in my bones, the necessity of movement. Of Movements, any kind of Movement. If I keep dancing, if I only keep dancing, my feet say, maybe I’ll make the world move. If I convince the unwilling people, take a look at their eyes and do  a bit of convincing, if I make the thrill of the dance absolutely undeniable, then there’s a chance. But I have to, I must, dance with conviction in spite of those to try to convince us that we should quiet our feet. I’ll dance and stomp and look them in the eye and for one moment, that moment, they’ll know they’re not alone.

He came over with his dad to our table last night at dinner, his dad explaining that I was the one that was celebrating a birthday, for whom the cake had seemingly magically appeared for the kitchen. His 4 year old eyes lit up- there’s no better phrase but ‘full of wonder. ‘ When I asked his name, he said, matter-of-factly- “Jack.” and when I told him that the flowers on my cake were made of marshmallows, his mouth suddenly opened in surprise and excitement- MARSHMALLOWS? on cake?  I traded a piece of my marshmallow cake for a moment of sweet joy.

How I want to live my life with that awe- whether it be the sunshine in my hair of moments of laughter with friends at something ridiculous, meeting a new small person, cooking dinner for friends or cheering on the Braves with my family, reaching for my favorite mug to make my favorite tea, or any number of out-of-this-world-out-of-my-mind crazy experiences here and abroad, I want to expect such moments with fervor. Each moment deserves a wide-eyed ‘Jack’ moment.

Give me the capacity for wonder, my universe, that I may not explode or implode from either the beauty or the pain. May I find my marshmallow moments. May I seize life.

Happy 24th to me. It’s going to be a good year.

you poets

whose words are so

concise

so

calculated

would scoff at

the number

of

words

i use to

describe

life

I want to think again of dangerous and noble things. I want to be light and frolicsome. I want to be improbable, beautiful and afraid of nothing as though I had wings.  -Mary Oliver