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Back on the Icehorse October 28, 2011

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

The ice rink opened for the winter last Sunday, and yesterday I strapped on my skates. For the first twenty minutes or so, I was the only one on the ice. I was steady from the moment I stepped onto the rink. It was blissful.

It was also a bit of a relief. Over the summer, something happened while I was ice skating that hadn’t happened in, maybe, twenty years. I fell.

Seriously, I don’t fall. It’s not because I’m good at skating. I’m not. I can go forward, pretty quickly for someone who’s not attempting to be good at skating. I can barely cross over on the curves; in fact, I often don’t attempt it. I can’t skate backward. I just skate.

So the main reason I don’t fall is that I’m really not taking any risks. I’m just out there to mix up the workouts a bit and because skating is fun.

The rink holds a short summer session each year for summer camps with a daily public skate. I showed up the last day of June, skated, and left my skates to be sharpened. Just after the holiday weekend, I went back to pick them up. The rink was filled with little kids. Part of it was cordoned off for a minihockey game. I thought twice about getting on that ice. But I had run into a couple of neighbors who were also going to skate that day, and I thought it would be fun to be there at the same time.

Because it was allegedly a public skate, I asked if when the hockey kids were leaving. I was told any minute. I asked if they were sure. They decided to lower my admission rate, just in case they were wrong.

Against my better judgment, I decided to try it.

It was tough. My skates were newly sharpened. I was dodging kids and rogue hockey pucks left and right. The rink was shorter because of that stupid hockey camp. I thought I’d try to make it to a half hour.

And of course, a kid skated right in front of me, and so as to not hit her, I did a belly flop on the ice.

I’m not kidding. A belly flop. I think maybe a knee hit first, but barely. I took the brunt of the fall on my torso. And then I slid. It hurt. A lot.

I got up and left. I was totally embarrassed (I know, unnecessary) and pissed off (mostly at myself for staying—the kid apologized—it wasn’t really her fault). And I was sore.

Still, I went home and did a half hour on the NordicTrack, in part to actually get my cardio in for the day and in part to be sure everything still worked.

Oddly, I never got black and blue (well, the knee did, a little). I went to my regularly scheduled chiropractor appointment the next day, and she assured me that if I had gotten through my workout, my ribs were in good shape.

The worst part was getting in and out of bed. It was excruciating for quite a few days.

Maybe the second worst part was realizing (and it’s not like I didn’t know already) that there’s no way I could play roller derby at my age (even with the protective gear).

A couple of weeks later, after I felt better and before the rink closed, I made myself get back on the ice. I had a decent workout, but the ice was rough, so it was just OK, not really fun.

But yesterday . . . I took my iPod just in case. They were playing some godawful country music. Instead of being high maintenance and asking them to change it (you can do that if you’re the only one on the ice), I earbudded up and skated forty-five minutes to Cake, a group that never fails to make me ridiculously happy. The ice was smooth, untouched by other blades. The music was great. And because I started alone, I got to skate clockwise.

And then, it snowed.

FOMO* October 25, 2011

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

Like many, I sometimes suffer from fear of missing out. If I say yes to one thing, what must I then say no to? If I have an opportunity to do something, but don’t really feel like doing it, how will I feel if I don’t go and it turns out to be the event of the decade? Or what if two things that I really really want to do are happening at the same time? With either choice, I both win and lose. Kierkegaard would remind me that no matter what I choose, I will regret it either way. Of course, he may have been even more neurotic than I am.

Some months ago, as I was planning my twenty-fifth wedding anniversary trip, I was invited to the fortieth birthday party for my next-door neighbor—a party to be held in Mexico. I was thrilled to be invited. The photos of the hotel looked amazing. I loved the idea of hanging out with a bunch of women. And briefly, I thought I might go.

A couple of problems were obvious: first, that it arrived on the heels of my big, expensive trip, both money- and time-wise; and second, that I have that ever-present hate-to-get-on-planes-and-sometimes-get-sick-when-I-travel thing (although my track record on the sick thing has been better of late).

For about two days, another neighbor and I entertained the idea of a slightly shortened version of the trip (mostly because of my job and her 16-month-old daughter). We almost got to yes. Then Laura backed out, and my doubts roiled: Money. Time. What if I got sick and all these women had to deal with me in close quarters? What if I couldn’t keep up with them in the partying department? (This is a real concern: Despite my obvious love for martinis, I am not historically a night person.)

So I decided not to go to Mexico. All monetary focus turned to taking a great trip with my great guy. And what a great trip it was.

Soon all those gals will head off to Mexico without me. Mostly, I’m OK with it, but I also know there will be moments that I’ll be really sorry that I’m not there with them, celebrating with Lynda. I will be missing out. On the other hand, there will probably be a moment or two when I think, thank god I’m not in Mexico this week—that’s how these things tend to go.

Meanwhile, another dilemma has surfaced. Friends who got married by a JP back in 1995 who never had so much as a wedding reception are using the occasion of his work recently being acquired by the Renwick Gallery (that’s the Smithsonian, muthafuckahs!) as an excuse for a party: see the work at the Renwick on Saturday, go to a party that night, check out his studio (with demo!) the next day. The invitation is highly alluring: “Attire shall be smart casual, dumb formal, square transitional, rude mechanical, irritating chic, aging bohemian, sexy librarian, heartland confrontational, elegant fruity, hipster doofus, whatever.” I’ve been considering sexy librarian or heartland confrontational.

Unfortunately for Tim and me, the originally discussed date shifted a week, so what had been a weekend we could make it turned into one that is much more complicated.

Tim can’t go. He has to be in Portland on Sunday, and that’s too far from DC.

There was talk of my driving to Pennsylvania, meeting up with a friend to go to the festivities, and then driving on Monday to Portland (10 hours-ish) to meet Tim. That means two cars in Portland, and I’ve lost a day on what might be a very short Portland trip anyway. And I’d be about 25–30 hours in a car over the course of the whole trip.

Flying has its own complications that are too boring to detail, but even if I overcame them, we’d still have two cars in Portland on a short trip.

We missed the Portland shoot in September because we were on vacation. I miss Portland—the city, the food, my peeps there. Tim and I get some of our best time together in Portland—we’re not on vacation, but we’re not at home, and we’re not dealing with all the responsibilities and chores of daily life. We spend more time really together there. I don’t want to miss any of that.

I don’t want to miss my friends’ party either.

If I go, I won’t have a lot of time with them personally.

If I don’t go, I will be missing out.

Tim has openly stated his selfish desire for me to choose him. Maybe we can visit our friends over the holidays.

If things had lined up easily, this would have been a quick decision. But they aren’t lining up easily. That doesn’t necessarily mean I shouldn’t do it. Not everything worth doing is easy.

And so I waver, not deciding, wanting everything.

Maybe I could do sexy librarian in Portland.

*Fear of missing out.

Snow Geese October 17, 2011

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

Our new friend Lang, who’s nine and a major birder, suggested we all go up to Dead Creek to see the snow geese on their migration, something I’ve been meaning to do longer than he’s been alive, and so his dad Facebooked us an invite, and we thought, yeah, let’s go! We took two cars: Lang was in one with his dad and mom and little sister, and Tim and I followed them. Dead Creek (an hour or so away) was amazing, and someday I really will go back with my canoe. We couldn’t get very close to the geese, what with it being a protected preserve and all, but we could see them from various points along our drive, far away in our binoculars and spotting scope. We packed lunches and ate them at the last and best viewing spot, and that’s when the geese all took off, which is exactly what you’re there to see during snow goose migration. The view and the sounds are stunning. It looked like this:

And Lang and his little sister made a checklist for the day, which looked like this:

And I have never in my life seen so many northern harriers in one day, not ever.

First Frost October 7, 2011

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

A half-day before the dawn that will bring fall’s first early-morning calls of the wild windshield scraper, Martha phones from across the street, and she has picked all her Swiss chard, and do we want any?, and we do, and I ask if I should come over and get it, and she says it’s cradled like a baby in her arms and she will come to us, and she does, and she is sporting a stunning new haircut that pushes her prettiness to even greater heights, which hardly seems possible, but there it is, and she transfers that colorful baby into Tim’s arms, during which a few stalks fall to the floor, but they are quickly rescued, and the next afternoon, after the first-frost scraping, after the thrill of the first real chill, after the day’s warming has crested and is beginning its retreat, I clean the chard and chop the white and fuchsia and gold stems and sauté them in olive oil and add the leaves bit by bit and watch them wilt and shrink and darken, and then I mix in Portabellas and Italian sausage, and at dinner we feast on autumn comfort food of the very best kind.

California October 5, 2011

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

Eleven days ago, I returned to Parts West after two weeks in California with Tim, where we were celebrating our twenty-fifth anniversary. Two weeks away is almost unheard of in our lives. The last time it happened was our twentieth anniversary in Oregon. In fact, until June, that Oregon trip was the last time I’d been on a plane.

Since returning, I’ve wanted to write about the trip, but my writer’s block remains in full force.

I want especially to write about it because everything about the places I visited was so different from where I live, and I was constantly thinking about Bridgett and Mali’s discussion (the rest of us chiming in) about how, on the one hand, moving around within a huge country like the United States, one can sometimes be within its borders and yet feel as if one is visiting a foreign country, but how, on the other hand, a (basically) common language and political system may make that interpretation of foreign illegitimate. The geography may be outside your experience. The accents, attitudes, and culture may be as well. But foreign isn’t foreign until you’ve left your country, no matter its size.

The northern California landscapes were so different from Vermont. The landscapes I traveled through were so different from each other. There were barren hills. There were endless farms and ranches and orchards. There were huge wind turbines, the trees below them looking like matchsticks. There were crazy, winding roads through mountain passes where no roads should be. There were fields of wild rice.

There was the shock of Yosemite.

Some landscapes felt confrontational, arresting, intimidating.

All of it was beautiful.

It felt . . . foreign.

But I could speak American English and be generally understood—that is, when I could speak at all.