Double Digits

mood: celebrating | drinking: water, for now

bruce_lo_engagement

Exactly ten years ago today, there was a giant blizzard in Chicago that dumped several feet of snow on the city and outlying suburbs. The white stuff fell all day, delaying flights, wreaking havoc on the roads, and turning the whole landscape into a soft white dream.

And at 7pm that night, as the snow continued to drift and fall, Boy and I stood in a candlelit chapel and solemnly said our vows.

Ten years. Sometimes I feel like it’s impossible that so much time could have passed already. But then I think about how many lifetimes we’ve lived in the past decade, and it’s hard to believe that it’s only been ten years.

We’re celebrating tonight with a fancy dinner at a schmancy restaurant overlooking the ocean. And then, in a couple of months, we’ll celebrate more properly with a trip to Prague.

But for today, I’m going to remember the girl I used to be, the girl who stood there in white and pledged her heart forever to a boy. Seriously… look at our engagement picture up there. We were such babies! (Still a gorgeous picture, thanks Patti!)

We’ve done a lot of changing over the past decade, and a lot of growing up. I feel lucky every single day that we’ve changed in the same direction, that we continue to want the same things, to strive for the same goals, to dream complimentary dreams. It’s no small feat, I know.

And we’re going to need all our shared history, all our commitment, all our love, for the next ten years, and the next ten after that. Life never stops changing, stops moving, stops upending your best-laid plans. I couldn’t imagine, on my wedding day, what 2010 would look like, anymore than I can imagine 2020 today.

But we’ve taken it one day at a time, and discovered that’s a good way to live.

I always used to hear couples talk about how they loved each other more and more as the years went by. Standing there in front of all our friends and family who braved the snow (and thanks, again, all of you, for doing that, even if it meant crashing your car in the parking lot to do so *cough*Graeme*cough*), standing up there on that snowy Friday night, I thought I was full of love. But I’ve learned that there’s always room for more, and it’s true… I love Boy so much more now than I did when I put a ring on his finger. He’s become more than my husband. He’s my family.

And it’s not just feelings and hope anymore. We’ve worked on this thing. And that’s why, I think, it’s working.

Apparently anniversaries make you babble… I’m not sure any of this will make any sense to anyone but me. But I wanted to put something down in words, on this day. I wanted to say, “I love this man, and I don’t regret a thing.”

I think the girl who was me all those years ago would be overjoyed to see how well it’s all turning out.

-Lo, ready for ten more.

Finding Gratitude

mood: quiet | drinking: koolaid-tasting vitamin water
us_house

In the spirit of the impending holiday, I’m going to make myself a little list of the things I am grateful for.

I’ve realized recently that I’ve spent the better part of this year griping about all the changes in my life. Time to step back and take a breath and notice the things that haven’t changed, or that have changed for the better.

So. Here they are, off the top of my head: Ten things that make me happy to get out of bed in the morning.

1. Boy. Through good, bad and ugly, he’s always there when I wake up. It’s an easy thing to take for granted in the hubbub of everyday living.

2. LeeLoo. She’s had a tough year, and is coming up on her 12th birthday, which in dog years is rather geriatric. But she’s hanging in there and is always ready with a lick and an eloquent Boxer sigh.

3. Our new home. We’ve only been sleeping under its roof for 10 nights, but it already feels like home. It’s cute, it’s cozy, it’s ours. And at night, you can see the stars so brightly and the ocean thunders so loudly. I feel incredibly lucky to be here.

4. My family. Mom & Dad were here just a few weeks ago, and my sister and I were talking about how weird we are, among most of our friends, that we actually enjoy spending time with our parents. I’m grateful for that kind of oddity.

5. My friends. Recently a small group of good people gathered for chicken pot pie at a cozy restaurant in the Castro to celebrate my birthday, and I looked around the table at all these people who love me–just love me, asking nothing of me in return–and I was overwhelmed with my good fortune to have all these lovely ones in my life.

6. Books. I’ve been reading so many good ones lately. Right now I’m nearly finished with Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood. God, I love books. I love getting lost in another world or being enraptured with the turn of someone else’s phrase. I would be lost without words in my life.

7. New acquaintances. You’re never too old to make new friends, and I’ve made two new forays in that direction recently, meeting Louise, the friend of a friend, and Julie, who took my photo for her art project I live here: SF. I love those unexpected moments when you connect with someone new and think, “Huh. This chick’s pretty cool.”

8. Etsy. Yes, I know, it’s geeky. But this website has opened me up to a whole new world of artists and crafters and seamstresses and amazingly creative people. My sister bought me a Lisa Falzon print off Etsy for my birthday this month and I’m totally in love with it. How else would I have discovered an illustrator in Ireland and have one of her pieces hanging on my dining room wall?

9. Creative outlets. My writing group, first and foremost. The girls in this group rock my face off every time we meet, and I’ve written some things this year that would not have been possible without their input. And then there are the cinepoems. Michelle and I just continue to work so well together and continue to churn out new ideas. We just finished “Homogeneous” and already we’ve got another shoot in the works for December.

10. San Francisco. As I said in my last post, I just really really love this city. It’s a beautiful, weird, wonderful place and I’m so happy that I get to call it my home.

As it turns out, there’s so much to be grateful for, even in the midst of a truly crazy year. And I am, I am grateful. And lucky. And blessed.

And so are you.

-Lo, choosing the bright side.

I Miss Dull Moments

Mood: Frazzled | Drinking: Snapple Peach Tea

loo_blanket

Fair warning: Totally random scattershot blog post ahead.

It’s clear to me that the theme of 2009 is CHANGE. Not pocket change or Obama change. I’m talking totally life-altering, plan-upending, out-of-the-blueness change. I assume you need examples. Well, let me lay out this past week for you.

One week ago today, I was in Denver chatting up old friends.
Sunday I was back home, packing up all my bookshelves and other various and sundries.
Tuesday, I was decorating a new office cubicle and meeting lots of fellow co-workers whose names quickly escaped me.
Tonight, I’ll be eating sushi with Eric from Michigan (he of Flashmaster fame), who’s in town for the weekend.
Tomorrow, I’ll be schlepping many of the aforementioned boxes to a storage unit.
And Sunday I’ll be shooting part 2 of the “Homogeneous” cinépoem with Shel and Jimmy. And Kathy and Melissa.
And oh, god, then I shall collapse, get up, and do it all over again.

To say I am busy is to say the sky is blue, the Pope is old, and cheese is awesome.

If you’re saying, “Uh, didn’t you just start a new job in January after getting laid off and whatnot?” Well, first, you are very observant and second, yes. Yes I did. But things happened and headhunters hunted and recruiters recruited and now I am the new girl all over again.

“And about those boxes,” I can hear you muttering, “what’s up with that? Are you reflooring? Repainting? Moving altogether?” Yes, uh-huh, and sweet tasty freeze almighty, yes. To be more specific, we are packing up 90% of our personal and previously totally necessary shit in order to stage our cozy wee home to look all real estate magaziney and then we are sticking a for sale sign on it.

Don’t worry, I’m not leaving San Francisco until they pry this city from my cold dead hands. No, we’re just, you know, taking the next step in home ownership. Also known as getting a 2nd bedroom. Oh, the luxury.

I want to stick a sign on my chest at the new job that says: “Please ignore the crusty eyes and frizzy hairs…I’m trying to do too much at once. Again. Please don’t get used to this version of me. Insanity is only temporary.”

In my defense, I didn’t ask for all of this change. It all plopped into my lap completely unexpectedly and entirely unavoidabley. (Is that last one even a word?)

So I shall continue to go about my days slightly frazzled until all of this simmers down to a slow boil. In the meantime, I guess I will have to find a way to enjoy the bubbles. And the boxes. And the inability to remember all the names at the new place. So. Many. Names.

I’m sure that when “Homogeneous” comes out of the editing suite in the fall, I’ll be bemoaning my total lack of onscreen pizazz. Thank god I’ve got Emanuela and Jimmy to fill in the gaps in this one!

I shall try to keep up a steady patter in this space over the next few weeks, if only to preserve my sanity and step away from the leaning tower of boxes now and then. Speaking of which, when I stopped at the storage unit this a.m. to unload a new carload, I rolled up the door only to find that the previous night’s delivery was toppled all over the floor. I am a terrible box stacker. An inept cardboard wrangler. I have to get Boy on this, STAT.

-Lo, who will totally pilfer any decent-looking cardboard you leave on the curb.

Change without Choice

Mood: Cloudy | Drinking: Yes

empty

We all knew change was coming.

It was the big slogan, after all.

And I’m not necessarily afraid of or opposed to change. Change is necessary. Inevitable. Good, even.

It’s just that I’d rather be prepared for it. I’d rather ask for it. I’d rather be the one who decides when and where and if and how.

Lately, that’s just not happening.

There have been so many changes already in 2009, changes that I did not want, did not ask for, did not sign my name on a dotted line to say, yes, I am on board with all of this upheaval.

But it’s happening anyway.

For me personally, it began with my grandmother’s death followed immediately by the job layoff last November. But with the perfect vision of hindsight, I now see the rumblings that began long before.

Last summer, even while I was cheerfully ignoring any news of impending doom, my friend Michael was reading the New York Times cover to cover and slouching in our living room shaking his head, saying, “We’re all doomed, sweetheart!”

I chose not to believe him.

But change is the kind of force that requires neither your belief nor your permission. It happens, with or without a by-your-leave, and you find yourself getting swept up and carried along whether you like it or not.

Your only choice becomes to surrender to the current or drown.

So I’m surrendering. I am. It’s too exhausting to fight my way upstream, and there’s nothing left back there for me anyway. But I don’t have to be cheerful about it. Not yet.

I continue to wake up crabby that the job I had for four years, the job I picked out all by myself, is gone — washed away. And the job I now have, though I’m grateful for it, is not a job I would have chosen, if given the choice.

I also would not have chosen to wash my favorite wee silver cell phone in the pocket of my grubby jeans after a long day of yard work on Monday. But since I didn’t stop to think about it (or check the pockets), it got sudsed and rinsed and spun and ruined. And now I have a shiny new blue phone and it’s fine and all, but it’s one more change that I did not choose. And therefore I’m slightly disgruntled.

(The phone, in fact, is what made me think about this whole topic.)

But when I bottom line it for myself, I hit the hard and simple truth that this is just life. This is how it goes.

You don’t get to choose everything that changes you. That’s not how it works. So at some point you begin to learn to make the best of it, to accept the new things graciously, to find the good in the midst of it all and to move on.

I’m working on it.

-Lo, making like a chameleon.


A postscript that has nothing to do with change: February 18th is my wedding anniversary. It’s been nine years today since Boy and I stood in a chapel in the middle of a Midwest snowstorm and exchanged vows. Amazing.

I Ran So Far Away

Mood: Rested | Drinking: Water

tiffany

Last year at this time if someone had told me I would run not just one but two half marathons, I would have fallen over laughing.

But change is possible. With a smidgen of faith, a lot of hard work, three pairs of running shoes, and a little help from my friends.

Last year at this time, I had just started running. I could barely run for a block or two before feeling like my lungs might be full of fire ants.

And now? Now I’ve got 13.1 competitive miles under my belt — twice. Not to mention a couple of 5ks thrown in for good measure.

It’s an amazing thing.

So is running with 20,000 other women (give or take a few brave men). The Nike Women’s Marathon and Half Marathon in San Francisco is billed as a women’s race, and marketed with a whole lot of pink banners.

And I have to tell you, it’s very different, running a race course with a bunch of women. A woman bumps into you and actually says she’s sorry. Women on all sides cheer (and sometimes drag) each other on, mile after sweaty mile. Compliments about hairstyles, t-shirts, and choice of footwear are easily passed about between strangers.

I never really considered a half marathon to be a nurturing environment, but in this case, it was.

I ran my first half marathon in Phoenix back in January, after training for 3 months with Team in Training. This time, I trained myself (with occasional accompaniment from my fabulous running buddy, Allegra).

On race day, Boy dropped me off a block from Union Square in the wee dark hours of the morning and from that point until I crossed the finish line, I was on my own. I trained on my own, ran on my own, and finished on my own, and goddamn, am I proud of myself! 😉

I finished the Phoenix Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon course in 2 hours, 55 minutes, on a hot day over flat roads with only 3 months of training to back me up.

My goal for this Nike race was to beat my own time, and I did: 2 hours, 52 minutes, on a foggy morning over San Francisco-sized hills with a year of running experience behind me.

The best part, besides crossing the finish line, was all my friends who got up early to come and cheer along the way, including my juicy nephew, Jude, and my parents, who just happened to be in town from Illinois. Thanks to all of you!

The other best part? Turquoise Tiffany’s boxes held aloft on silver platters by handsome tuxedo-ed men. And one of them (the box, not the tux man) is all mine.

I’ve been resting up all week, after a nice post-race soak in the ocean, and I think I’m ready to run again.

Time to go pound some pavement…

-Lo, who doesn’t photograph well when sweaty.

Beer Butt

beerbutt
Mood: Tasty
Drinking: Tea

My mother told me a long time ago that I either needed to marry a wealthy man or a chef.

I got lucky with Boy — not only does he love to cook, he’s possibly the most excellent cook I’ve ever known.

And last night? Last night he made the best chicken I’ve ever tasted. What is this exquisite dish called? Beer Butt Chicken.

Yup.

Boy shoved a can of beer up that tasty chicken’s, um, cavity, plopped that sucker on the grill and a little while later we dined on the tastiest bird ever.

I have no doubt that part of the impetus for trying out the new recipe was the intriguing title. I mean, who wouldn’t want to find out more about Beer Butt Chicken? Such a handsome fellow.

So basically, this post has no point except to gloat about my man’s cooking skills, and add a reason for someone to land on this site after googling something about beers up the butt.

All in a good day’s work…

-Lo, whose cooking specialty involves exotic ingredients such as cheese and macaroni noodles.

Just Another Day

twistytreeMood: Contemplative
Drinking: Water

I complain too much.

This is not a revelation. I’m a half-empty glass girl. We all know this.

But the sky outside is so blue, and the water so deep, and the wind ruffles my hair just so, and the new Magnolia tree whispers so sweetly with its broad green leaves, and I feel it all. But those aren’t usually the things I talk about.

I like to talk smack. Oh yes, I’m very big with the smack-talking. But not so with the actual carrying-out-of-smack. Boy and my sister will both tell you this.

I see a lot of wrong in the world, in myself, in other drivers. I see half-empty glasses everywhere. Wars and rumors of wars. Fear and famines. Horrors and hatreds. We are all, somewhere inside there, cheats and liars. Selfish and stubborn. We’ve all got something wrong going on.

And I’m so good at seeing it. I used to tell people that I couldn’t write “happy” poems because there’s so much more to say about unhappiness.

But then, this week, I sat on my front steps with my dog and watched my neighborhood roll past my door. I went for a run and felt the muscles in my legs push me faster and further with every stride. I stood on top of a rocky hill with my Boy and watched the sun shimmer on the endless shining water. I talked to my sister and she told me about all the things that make my new nephew smile. I read a line of poetry in praise of oranges. I made a joke and my friend – who was lying in a coma just a month ago – laughed. I got new earrings. I ate strawberries. I slept in.

So today, I’m not complaining.

I am writing, instead, in praise of the little things. The satisfying twist of a topiary tree. The soft brush of my hair against the nape of my neck. Boy’s considerable culinary skills. The way LeeLoo’s paws smell like corn chips when she sleeps. The way L belts out her laughter in rafter-rattling guffaws. The small things. The stuff of life. The everyday pieces that patch it all together, that make another day worth living for.

I was reminded today, reading a friend’s blog, of the necessity of praise. Of the value of being thankful.

It’s so easy to forget.

-Lo, sitting still.

Get Set

ready2runMood: Ready
Drinking: Water

Five days left ’til I’m off and running.

The P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon is Sunday the 13th.

I’ve got my Aasics all broken in and my shot blocks stocked up and I even bought purple hairbands to match my grape-colored Team in Training singlet! I’m all riled up and ready to run 13.1.

Of course, I have to get to Phoenix first.

Boy and LeeLoo are coming with, and so are my friends Chris, Shel, Roy, and Mike. And Roy and Mike are not only coming with, they’re running the half marathon with me. Because they’re just that cool.

I’ve got a few more days before I go, but they’ll be filled with planning and packing and squeezing in one more Team track workout at Kezar Stadium, so I probably won’t have time to write again until those 13.1 miles are behind me.

So I’d like to thank all of you who have sponsored me by donating to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Thanks to you, we’ve raised nearly $4,000 ($3,940 at last count) to help find cures for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma and myeloma. You definitely went above and beyond, and I’ll be thinking of you all when I strap on my running shoes on Sunday.

I’m very much looking forward to all of it, from the starting line jitters to the finish line triumph (and probably tears), to all the miles of running in between.

And as a bonus? Shel and I are going to do our very best to squeeze in a desert cinepoem shoot while we’re there. Because it would just be silly to pass up a cactus cameo, you know?

-Lo, who won’t forget to stretch.

Mistletoe and Miscellany

poinsettaMood: List-Checking-Off-ish
Drinking: Daily Dose of Water

No matter how much you plan, how many vows you make, cookies you bake, lights you string, fa la la… No matter what, this season always gets to you with its busy-ness. With its sometimes sincere but often forced cheerfulness. Its overwhelming red and greenness. Its sugar overdoses and last minute gift panic.

I’m not panicking, though. I’m roadtripping.

Boy and I are packing the LeeLoo up and driving north to Portland to visit his sister, a few friends, and LeeLoo’s Internet Boyfriend, Henry D. Monster.

LeeLoo’s excited only because she saw some tasty treats and one of her babies go into a duffle bag, so she knows she’s going along. She has no idea what’s in store for her. She and the Monster have not yet met in real life, but now that they’re taking their relationship offline (i.e. out of me and Henry’s mom’s myspace photo exchanges and fake dog-messages and into the dogs’ actual lives), well, much cuteness and butt-sniffing shall be had! There will be photos. Count on it.

I’ve got other plans to avoid holiday panic — I’m boycotting the company Secret Santa thingie, for one.

Even better, my sister’s baby is due between Christmas and New Year’s, and even though he hasn’t even taken his first breath, he’s already got more presents than Boy does. I can’t stop buying adorable wee t-shirts that say stuff like “I do my own stunts.”

My parents’ plane touches down in CA soon, and since holidays with the entire Witmer family don’t happen often anymore, it’s quite exciting to think about the full house and long chats by the fire that we’ll soon be having. Actually, nervous energy getting spread around the maternity ward waiting room is probably more like it.

And in the midst of all the holidays and hullaballoo, I’ve still got some training to do. I’m up to 9 miles now, and my half marathon date creeps steadily closer. I’m still fundraising for Team in Training/The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. You’ve got another week or so to sponsor me, if you want.

There are also a few poetry readings in the works for early next year. Dates to be determined. I’ll let you know when I know.

-Lo, who misses sword-sized icicles.