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Showing posts from 2021

Now That's a Stretch

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  I don’t remember the last time I tried to sit cross legged on the floor in what we the un-woke once called Indian style. It’s painful because I have very tight hip flexors. I even hate doing yoga on account of how we all start with legs tucked under. My quads don’t cooperate and my feet cramp – even with two blocks under my butt.   I shuffle when I run due to too-taut hamstrings, and wobble during walks thanks to arthritic hips. This is what happens when long-time runners give short shrift to stretching. I’m not light. I’m not lithe. And I’m certainly not limber.   With that as the setup, allow me to introduce my word for 2022: Stretch. I need the daily reminder as I near a milestone birthday and, well, feel my true age. That makes this year’s word as practical as it is multi-purpose and metaphorical.   Kids, jobs, school, pups, grandkids and a geriatric pit bull with bladder issues have all robbed me of the requisite warmup-exercise-cooldown ritual. I’ve long stripped any workout to

Time to Come Clean

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I’ll be honest: I’m not a fan of the winter holidays. I tend to see them as just more work, only unpaid. I wish I wasn’t such a Scrooge, but it takes a lot for me to get in the mood to buy and wrap and ship presents. To bake sugary treats and not give in to sampling. To sit through a sensory-friendly showing of   How The Grinch Stole Christmas at The Old Globe and not cry. To deal with indoor and outdoor lights. Babysit more than usual. To make one more library-book run to stock up for an anticipated work lull that somehow rarely happens. To find everything on grocery lists for special brunches and dinners. And, of course, nail all of my many work deadlines.       Not to mention, even with early morning temps finally requiring heavier jackets and sweaters, it doesn’t feel like Christmas. Never does here in San Diego.   But this is a great time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t this year, especially in keeping with this year’s theme:  Clean . In some ways, it was a natural choic

The Plight of the Two-Income Earner

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Lately, I’ve been telling everyone within earshot that I’m tired of working so hard. It took a couple of carefree weekends and slow Mondays to realize how much more padding I want around hard weeks’ worth of work.    I’ve been a two-income earner for many, many years. With a few years’ exceptions, I’ve always held more than one job, as much to keep my mind stimulated as our cupboards full. And until now, I handled two occupations relatively well. But decades of heavy loads and a shortening lifespan have me reevaluating how I want to spend my days ahead. It probably doesn’t help that most of my friends now are unencumbered by jobs and school-aged children and living their best lives. I have several years before I can join them.   The hours add up My lifestyle is no longer a novelty.  A lot of people work gigs  beyond a full-time job. As a professional writer and budding novelist, I spend way too much time tethered to a desk and chair. I do get up at least once every hour, usually to reh

May Madness, I'm Gunning for You

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Yesterday I signed up to do next year’s   Bay to Breakers , the craziest 12k you’ll find in what remains my favorite city: San Francisco. I wanted to take advantage of the 48-hour low pricing (under $40); generous refund policy; and expiring airline credits. I’ve wanted to return to this event for more than eight years … and now I will if all goes as planned.   I’ll be running or, more likely, walking with my daughter and son-in-law, both B2B regulars. We’re already coming up with costume concepts and deciding which breweries to hit in our version of carbo loading. I’ve also been assured that seeking a position within Corral A doesn’t mean we need to maintain a 6-minute-per-mile pace, or that we get passed and cussed at the entire time.    Bay to Breakers is weird and wild, but the year we did it was weirder and less wild than others due to a bombing at the Boston Marathon just weeks before. That led to lower attendance, probably as much due to a stronger police presence and alcohol ba

It’s Time for San Diego to Grow Up

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The current mayor of San Diego campaigned on a pledge to treat the place like a metropolis rather than a network of sprawling suburbs . You think San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and New York, and you immediately think compact blocks with mixed-use buildings, high-rise apartments and stately rowhouses, corner convenience stores, great ethnic restaurants and excellent public transportation.   San Diego has those things too, except the great public transit.    I was reminded of how much San Diego has grown during a recent early morning walk from Little Italy to Seaport Village via The Embarcadero . And again, a week later when we visited  our old suburb with family in town.    I can remember some of my first runs along the Embarcadero, dodging more homeless people than tourists, even during Comic-Con . The Gaslamp Quarter was still the nightspot it is now, but you took greater risks walking beyond its boundaries in the dark.    Cortez Hill, East Village, and Little Italy (pictured above

The Staying Power of Running Friendships

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  The adage “Once a runner, always a runner” may eventually prove untrue. But I’ve learned that friendships built around running endure if they are meant to. I think to my current circle of close friends and 90% of them began with us running together. I’m including one that began with a hike, not a run, but it’s the same foundation built from conquering distance, counting steps and breathy-but-not-breezy conversations.   Walking works too, but for me, my personal identity remains tied to running. It’s probably why I’ll commit to walking for the rest of my life, and within weeks pick up the pace despite knowing the higher risk of injury and arthritic wobbles. It’s not a healthy relationship, I admit.    I wasn’t always a social runner. In fact, one of the reasons I took up that form of exercise in my teens was to escape into myself. In my 20s, it was to escape crying babies and a crabby husband. And in my 30s and 40s, it turned competitive. You think when you pass another runner that th

Catch and Release: My Return to Rowing

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I picked Labor Day to return to the gym because I knew everyone else preferred to do anything else but work out. There were a lot more signs on the door beyond the one I remembered warning to keep it closed. Now everyone entering was ordered to wear a mask and Department of Defense-approved athletic attire. A posted schedule showed the three times a day the facility closed for cleaning.    The check-in system was the same as it had been when I last used it March 2020. But the faces behind the desk were all new. I showed my ID and asked where the rowing machines were now located. Their previous location had been converted into an F45 studio – a gym within a gym and  the first on a military installation . The women’s locker room looked the same except for all the signs now prohibiting selfies, not just dying hair in the sinks.    When I first started attending  this gym  20 years ago, there was a lone rowing machine wedged between two pieces of Nautilus equipment. It later moved to the m

Farewell, Summer Fridays

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  Even if you still work from home, or don’t work at all, you know summer Fridays are special. That’s because no one appears to work all that hard on summer Fridays. There’s a natural relaxation on the eve of everyone’s weekend that pushes big deadlines and really important meetings down the calendar. Freeway traffic is better Friday mornings; worse come Friday afternoons.   June’s a little tricky, despite ushering in summer. Some people take time off for vacations, but the bulk of us reserve rooms and plane seats for July or August. That slows things down all around. We just returned from a road trip, if you can call it that, to central Oregon. With me behind the wheel on the first leg, we made excellent time to our daughter’s new townhome in Marin County. I have not lost my preference for northern California, though I have stopped planning an eventual move there.    The rest of the trip was driving through wildfires and competing for chain restaurant seats with far worthier firefight

Couldn’t Get Much Higher

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  My large, heavy luggage proved the perfect metaphor for the baggage I brought to our girls’ getaway in Colorado. It was my first real vacation in years and I realized the toll of the pandemic shortly after we arrived.   I came to Colorado with a lingering cough that worsened through the days, or at least it seemed that way. I annoyed my friends and strangers alike. No one is allowed to cough in public anymore, let alone uncontrollably. An upcoming medical appointment will confirm which C it might be.   In the meantime, let’s share only the highlights with that old Joe Walsh song in the background.   Our home base was the town of Frisco —cute, well-manicured, condense and full of outdoor fun. At almost 9,100 feet elevation, it took my breath away. I had symptoms of altitude sickness, but they were mild. So, I ignored all of the advice I’d gathered prior—like drinking lots of water and staying away from alcohol and other dehydrating liquids.  I ate well. I slept poorly. I forced a chan

One and Done: Prepping for Hard Climbs Ahead

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I really thought by now I’d be pumped. Muscles primed. Limbs limber. Lungs ready for lower oxygen levels. Mental fitness at its peak. Alas, I have none of those things going for me. With 10 days until I board a Southwest plane for Denver, I have exactly one hike under my belt, and that was done yesterday because I had a rare Saturday morning off and decided to work out instead of sleep in. I chose Iron Mountain in Poway because it’s (a) only a 30-minute drive from my house, (b) always crowded on weekends so I’d never be alone and (c) still my favorite local trail . It was steep enough that I’d give the lungs and legs a good workout, yet gentle enough that I wouldn’t break bones if I fell. I needed to test my long-neglected gear (daypack, water bladder and spout, poles, shoes, socks, shorts, etc.) Happy to report everything worked as intended, though first thing I did upon getting home was tighten a pole screw that plagued me the entire time. So why haven’t I stuck with training promise

Fire Season Arrives in My Neighborhood

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Thank God the school bus was late.   I was standing on a busy corner, looking for the school bus to come down Black Mountain Road when I heard crackling and saw a plume of smoke rising out of a canyon about 100 yards away.   It took maybe 30 seconds for it to register, and when it did, I pulled out my phone and dialed 911 to report a brush fire. A small one at that point. I was connected to CalFIRE and told a crew was on its way.    Ten minutes later, with no sign of any first responders and the fire now growing, a woman walking up the street saw the smoke and called 911 again. She got the same response and so we both stood and took photos until the bus finally arrived. By the time I got our boy inside and texted my husband to come home from the gym, flames were flying up the hillside. Sirens could be heard…in the distance. A police car was coming down the road and I flagged it down, pointed to the fire. A couple of minutes later, ambulances, police cruisers, and news crews were finall