Archive for the ‘home’ Category

230+ miles in three days

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

(pictures above by my dad)

Mom has been asking me to write about this here for awhile, and she’s right that I really oughta. In April I biked from my house in Portland to my parent’s house in Sammamish, Washington. I expected the trip to take four days–possibly five. Instead, I biked 90 miles on my first day and made it in three.

Afterwards, I wrote the following:

i didn’t take a lot of pictures ’cause i got to be pretty good friends with momentum, but there’s a few.

first, some background: the longest ride i had ever done before this was a 60-mile ride the summer i turned 17. i wanted to avoid taking PE my senior year of high school, so i trained with my dad for the summer to get an independent PE credit. my dad does a lot of the super-light road bike, full spandex, drive to the start line kind of biking, so that’s what i did with him. dad bought a bike for me at the beginning of the summer, hopeful that i’d get into biking and join him on his long charity rides and such… and sold it at the end of the summer, because i pretty much hated every minute of it. that was the last time i wore spandex bike shorts until this past tuesday. my longest ride since then was, i dunno, 30-something miles.

basically, before this trip i was riding (heh) on the assumption that if i could ride 30 miles nonstop without feeling too tired afterwards, i could probably ride 30+30 with a break in between.

so on tuesday morning i got on my fully-loaded bike, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

and off i rode. i hadn’t bothered with detailed directions for the first part ’cause i thought i knew how to get onto route 30/st helens way, so i ended up calling my dad in confusion when naito turned into front ave and it was intersecting with numbered streets and there was no bike lane and where was nicolai street?? answer: …a block away. embarrassing.

on i went. basically, i was shocked by how easy the first FIFTY-FIVE MILES were. i finally rode over the bridge into longview, wa, in the early afternoon (okay so i walked some of it… motherfucker was steep, and the shoulder was strewn with wet mulch for some reason), having already biked farther than i expected to on day one.

i called my mom from longview, where i stopped for lunch, totally high on endorphins and gleeful. “guess where i am? guess how far i’ve biked? guess how many hours of daylight i have left???”

onwards i rode. i don’t remember the next 20 miles or so; they must have been okay. riding past lots of cows and stuff, probably. somewhere in there i started fantasizing about being able to call my mom that evening from centralia to say i’d ridden a fucking century. endorphins do funny things to your brain. pedal pedal pedal.

so when i wrote out my directions, i tried to include mileage where the route i was using stated it. i figured i would reset my odometer at the turn onto nicolai mentioned above, so i wrote down the miles of various points from there. but i was distracted when i turned onto nicolai and forgot about it for a few miles. i’m not sure what my odo said before i reset it (i think somewhere between 8 and 12), which is why i’m not exactly sure what my total mileage was. so anyway i started looking for turns five miles or so before they were supposed to come up. ANYWAY.

so i had a turn coming up at 71.5 miles. when at 68 or so i still hadn’t passed it i was starting to get worried. and tired. and maybe walking up some hills. i learned that it’s possible to ride a bike up a hill at 5 mph without it falling over. i started internally chanting “506 aka 7th st, 506 aka 7th st” over and over.

so when i crested a hill at 71.7 miles on my odo (so 80ish miles total) and saw this


(yeah i messed with the saturation, i am trying to express how much it MEANT TO ME)
(there was also a chorus of angels singing alleluia)

well. you know. i coasted down into tiny vader, wa…

…and, because endorphins do funny things to your brain, i coasted right out of town again, and on towards winlock. i could do 100 miles. sure. about four miles down the winlock-vader road, i knew i couldn’t. i called my mom to ask how far it was between vader and winlock. she said “about 7 and a half” and then my phone’s battery died. well, i was more than halfway… i would get to winlock and find a motel and indulge in the unimaginable luxury of a hot shower: if only i could make it to winlock.

i made it to winlock, where i didn’t find a motel but did find a public library, where, despite my head-to-toe raingear and the fact that even i could smell my stink, a very nice young librarian helped me get in touch with a bed and breakfast a mile or two away. i rode there, walked down their gravel driveway, and was treated almost immediately to a family-style dinner of hot soup and fried clams (yes, i broke my vegetarianism for the night; i didn’t want to be a pain in the ass, i was ravenous and they dug them themselves! i’m cool with this). yeah.

anyway in case i haven’t stated this clearly:
I BIKED NINETY MILES MY FIRST DAY.

next day it was foggy and chilly when i left in the morning, but cleared up into a beautiful day in the afternoon. i stopped in centralia to sit in a coffeeshop for awhile and celebrate the fact that i’d hit the halfway point (of the StP route… not actually of my trip, as it turns out). my muscles, astonishingly enough, were not particularly sore. my knees were. but it wasn’t too bad.

somewhere during day two i told myself with some happy laughter, “i have reached a zenlike state in which i can transcend minor aches and pains. there is only: the cycle!” endorphins make you think you’re funny. part of that doing weird things to your brain thing.

i biked part of the day on a multi-use rails-to-trails path, which was pretty cool.

in yelm, wa, i was passed on a narrow, shoulderless road by eight schoolbuses in rapid succession.

in roy, wa, i sat on a picnic bench and thought, goddamn, i could just BE there already if i weren’t stubborn. but of course the only reason i was going to sammamish was to bike there. the symbolism of biking from home to home.

i looked halfheartedly for a place to pitch my tent. i saw signs that referenced green river and couldn’t remember whether they’d ever actually caught the green river killer. you know what i mean? then i biked onward and found myself on a 50 mph highway with lots of traffic and fort lewis (a big army base) on either side with big fences and “no trespassing” signs every ten feet. so when i got to spanaway (70 miles that day), i… got a motel room.

so yeah i didn’t do too well with the camping part of the trip. i lugged the stuff everywhere and didn’t use it. by the end of the day i didn’t have the courage or energy to find a place to camp, i guess. could i have done it if i knew where campsites were and had them as my end goals? yeah, i think so. would i still like to learn how to make anywhere into a safe campsite? yeah of course. maybe something to learn when i’m not traveling solo. i dunno. i can’t be too disappointed in myself when i biked 230 miles in three days. whatever.

day three: raining when i left. knees sore again, but again, not too bad. i was pretty excited because i was in area codes i’ve lived in, you know? 253! tacoma!

20 miles in, my right knee twinged painfully. then it twinged again. and again. fuck fuck fuck fuck. i was on an ugly road through somewhere industrial, south of auburn. i called my dad near tears. he said, calm down, take some advil. worth noting that his advice to me the day before i left was “don’t overdo it on your first day.” 3x farther than i’d ridden in over 5 years isn’t overdoing it, is it? naw…

so i walked a mile until the advil kicked in, rode a bit further, stopped for coffee, rode on, felt better. i practiced pedaling with mostly just my left leg. i imagined giving up. my parents had already told me they can come get me if i need it. i have already come so far, i told myself. damn my knee hurt. no one could fault me, could they? but i wanted to ride door to door. SYMBOLISM, i kept telling myself, though i hadn’t figured out exactly what it was symbolizing.

in the meantime, i kept riding.


puyallup. i love the pacific northwest.


sumner.

and then…

LAKE WASHINGTON! WHAT! I WAS IN SEATTLE!

all right. i was gonna make it. okay.

i was halfway across the i-90 bridge when my knee started hurting again. oh god. my left thigh was starting to burn from the extra effort. i was on a floating bridge, which is, according to the laws of physics, FLAT, and i was struggling along in my granny gears. then i got lost on mercer island. my dad had written out directions for me ’cause i left the StP route when i got on the i-90 bike path, but i managed to misinterpret them or something. i called him and he set me straight. “how much farther is it from here?” i asked. “oh, only another 15 or 20 miles” he told me. i had already ridden 50 miles that day and my knee ached. i couldn’t bike up slopes anymore. i walked. joggers passed me. my speedometer said 3.0 mph. it was, i dunno, 2 or 3… if i walked the whole way, i figured, i could maybe be home for dinner.

i biked where i could, ate one of the energy bars i’d been carrying the whole way, made slow progress. on the other side of the bridge, though, THERE WERE SO MANY HILLS. OH MY FUCKING GOD. i walked a lot. by this point, when i wasn’t too busy breathing, i was either sobbing or swearing like a sailor. finally there was a long downhill, maybe 10 miles from my house. i actually tried chanting aum. it kind of helped, until the downhill ended and i ran out of breath.

the last eight miles to my house consisted of five and a half miles along east lake sammamish parkway, which was mostly flat, and then… and then… inglewood hill and some other stuff. the point is inglewood hill. when dad was giving me this route from seattle to home, he said, “well, you’ll have to go up inglewood hill, but i think you can do it.”

“i dunno…” i’d said doubtfully.

“well, if you can’t do it, you’ll know you need to work on hills!”

inglewood hill damn near killed me and i didn’t even try to do it on my bike. it was the hardest half mile of the whole trip. i think i would have given up right there were i not a mere three miles from home.

goddamn those three miles were hard.

but then i made it. as i was coasting the last half mile or so, i wondered whether i would manage to smile in those pictures i posted last night [ed: at the top of this entry]. i guess i did okay.

here’s some other stuff:

memorial crosses: 6

wildlife: 2 deer standing in a section of clearcut, 2 herons within 2 minutes of each other, a bunny rabbit, a small snake that i almost ran over, lots of birds including robins and red-winged blackbirds, ducks–including ducks in a used-to-be-pasture still flooded from the december floods in the centralia area

farms: cows, horses, chickens, llamas!

dogs: every dog within a 2 block radius at any given moment was barking frantically at me. only one of them chased me and i was completely terrified for a moment before the dog stopped dead at the edge of its property line.

one person yelled at me from a car; no idea what he was saying. in spanaway i sat outside a dairy queen and some kid driving a huge pick-up (he looked about 12 but i guess he was probably 16) yelled, “you have pink hair! you have pink hair!” “yeah, i know!” i said, and he drove off.

(one of) the reason(s) i did this ride is ’cause i am going on a supported bike tour in france with my dad and brother next month to celebrate my dad’s 50th birthday (i know, awesome, right?). i was having trouble motivating myself to go on long circular rides around portland to train for it, plus i was reading all this awesome stuff about self-supported bike touring, so i thought maybe it would be awesome to do a mini bike tour down the california coast as long as i’m an unemployed bum and my parents have more frequent flyer miles than they know what to do with. california ’cause i figured the weather would be nice, the scenery would be beautiful, the campsites would be plentiful. my parents were actually not totally opposed to the idea, but my mom said, “maybe you should bike up here first.” so i said, “okay, will do.” and here i am. so will i bike down the california coast now? i dunno. i would still like to but i would also like to spend the next couple weeks in portland (there are some really awesome things goin’ on for me in portland right now, what can i say?). i totally feel like i could do it and i think i have made that point to my parents, though. yes, yesterday was very very hard, but i only pushed so hard because i knew i was so close to home.

anyway–observable effects–my awesome glasses tan/burn (yeah i packed sunscreen, but i didn’t think to actually use it…):

ok, that’s all for now. maybe more later when i’ve parsed it or whatever.

I still haven’t really parsed it, I guess. This Thursday I’m leaving for France. I haven’t been biking a whole lot in the interim–for awhile my knee hurt every time I tried to bike farther than a few miles, and then last week I sprained my ankle. Stepping off of a bus. Pretty brilliant, I know. Obviously I should have been biking instead of riding the bus!

More general photo update to follow.

happiness

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

Actually, I have never been so happy.

march 23:

this morning in church i kind of zoned out during the sermon (which was a little about jesus, yes, but mostly about darkness and light and acceptance and how waiting can be a heavy, full time*) and i thought about how, yes, it’s totally possible to think oneself into irrelevance and even nonexistence… into tinyness and impotence. there’s this strange balance you have to find between that and solipsism. i dunno. the thing that just keeps coming back to me is: life is about balance!! balancing our recognition of the injustices in the world and our search for contentment in our own small lives. i dunno. i’m klutzy as hell. you know what i mean?

*we say that the world isn’t dying
and we pray that the world isn’t dying
just maybe the world isn’t dying
maybe she’s heavy with child
–jason webley

march 24:

it’s always clear and beautiful and calm at night and rain rain rain all day. walking home from the pub tonight, singing aloud and smiling to myself, pondering this unquenchable whatever lately… i feel this self-presence that i have never had before. i can’t describe it as balance or an even keel, but those are getting at what i mean. i have been trying for however many sentences now to explain that walking home tonight, i realized that all i feel is… sane. that is what has changed since i graduated. i can still feel sad and lonely and alone, but i know that in my belly somewhere there is me and there is joy in that, real joy. am i making any sense? doesn’t matter. i’m so okay i can’t even tell you. my goodness.

march 27:

…he asked me at one point how i spend my days, being unemployed and all, and i had to kind of feel sheepish about that, because some days, yeah, i look back on them and i have no idea what i spent the day doing. but the thing is,

i have never been so happy. i’m not talking about the insecure “omg i love you so much i can’t even begin to explain” huge overwhelming miserable ecstasy which i have had a time or two. i mean really. it’s funny ’cause if you saw me sometimes i probably look like i’m cracking up. i smile to myself in public about i don’t even know what, HUGE absurd smiles. i sing all the time, i dance and love myself for it. i still feel stupid anxiety about social situations sometimes, but it doesn’t matter. truly–because of this happiness in me. so forgive me if i’m not really missing structured days and all that. what is there to miss? i don’t know what i mean. i have been trying to write about this year and what it’s done to me but i don’t know what did what. being unemployed? breaking up with my depressive ex-boyfriend (both of them)? selling my car? exercising and eating well? learning on my own terms? maybe even, in some way, the outpouring of grief i felt after kari’s death?

so yeah on the surface i am doing a lot of the same stuff i would be doing if i were depressed: sleeping late, cuddling with my cat, walking around the neighborhood in the middle of the night and listening to music, baking cookies, losing myself in reading. i’m not really sure what to make of that. the fact remains that my hours are totally my own right now and i LOVE that knowledge. i am reluctant to give that up. i know i will have to eventually. i am INCREDIBLY lucky and privileged to have been able to do this so far. i am pretty much infinitely grateful to my parents for gifting me my car for graduation, and accepting my decision to turn around and sell it, because without that i would be up a financial creek right now, and instead i am contemplating a bike tour!! this period i have had for all kinds of self-discovery i haven’t even begun to parse has been… some kind of blessing if you’ll let me use that word. that all the events in my life came together to allow it. i know it will end, but i can’t imagine yet how it will. i hope it’s gentle and good and i can maintain this happiness. i hope i won’t have to feel like i am giving something up, but instead like i am bringing something else into my life.

we’ll see.

march 31:

…it was the first time i realized that my four or so years of terribly off-and-on yoga practice are present in me in EVERY MOMENT… in my deep, even breaths.

yoga classes (well, yoga classes and megan evans’ theatre warm-ups) were actually the first time it ever really occurred to me that my belly should expand when i breathe in. i spent so long as an incredibly self-conscious late-blooming adolescent, sucking in my gut ALL THE TIME, that breathing all the way down to my belly was a kind of revelation. i still take a lot of pleasure in that really simple thing. my happiness lives there, now, and with every breath i feed it.

spring is sprung

Friday, March 21st, 2008

Well, I think I hoped that by the time I wrote here again I’d be able to say something along the lines of, “life rocks. I have a job I love, my relationships are stable and supportive, and my life is full of love and art.” Life is far from bad, but I’m still figuring stuff out. I stage managed a show that went up at the end of February and ran through last weekend. It was a good experience and I made some new contacts in the Portland theatre community. I still miss Kari every single day, but my brother’s cat Kepler came to live with me awhile ago, and he’s a sweetie, I admit. My friends are still great and I’m even making some new ones. And it is–slowly, slowly–spring. I am pretty excited by the future and trying to be excited about the present. I’m applying for internships in Seattle and Berkeley that would start in the fall, so my future is, once again, kinda up in the air.

Here’s some pictures from my life the past few months:


I dyed my hair pink again. It feels better this way, job opportunities be damned.


Yeah, and then we broke up. Oh well. (That’s Kepler curled up with him.)

it’s sunny here, though

Sunday, January 20th, 2008

Well, I am traveling again (sort of), and it seems appropriate to write. I’m in San Francisco right now–I came down to see a dance performance choreographed and directed by my aunt Theresa, and while here I’ve also gotten to reconcile with my first love, wander Chinatown with one of my best high school friends, talk for hours with my very close friend Elana, and see an awesome (really, really awesome) Olafur Eliasson exhibition at SF MOMA. I’m here for another two days. My aunt invited me last week and I decided to come the same day. My parents were kind enough to give me some frequent flyer miles and Elana was kind enough to let me stay in her apartment in Berkeley.

I was surprised by how eager I was to get back on a plane with such a small push. When I was in Europe and close to coming home, I thought Portland would open its arms to receive me and pretty much never let me go again–at least not for a long while. Truth is, “home” is hard. My boyfriend and I have been quarreling a lot, I’ve been struggling a bit with money and how/why/whether to get a new job, the same small social anxieties I thought I would magically learn to ignore upon returning to my much-missed friends continue to pop up, and I’m in way worse physical shape than I was when I left for Europe. And my mom met me at the airport in Seattle with the news that my beloved cat Kari, who had been sick on and off since the summer, wasn’t doing well and had a vet appointment that very evening. Despite my best efforts, she continued to decline and died in my arms on January 10th. She was with me for over fifteen years, and even though I know that she lived a full, happy life, it’s been very hard for me.

So that’s life. I admit: epiphanies evade me. Things are not coming together. I haven’t figured out yet how to make it work. Or what “it” is. Or what kind of artist to be. Or how to live without Kari, the heart of my heart.

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