February 7, 2008
February 4, 2008
I've never really believed in the whole "work hard then reward reward yourself" idea. This morning's donut, however, might have changed my mind. I wonder if I could request blue and green sprinkles...
February 1, 2008
January 30, 2008
Taj Mahal: March 2001
I was doing some camera research (white balance, iso, etc.) this morning when I remembered my one photography connection. When I was in India in 2001, I met this guy, Philip Greenspun at the Taj Mahal. He was from MIT ad he was lugging around this HUGE camera and we got to talking. Turns out he started Photo.net, and he was in India doing some lecturing. We spent a long time sitting on the steps overlooking the reflecting pool waiting for the crowds to thin and the sun to set. We stayed until we couldn't, until the guards with machine guns happily escorted us out. Then Phil took me and Beth Ann and a bunch of other tourists out to dinner. My pictures never turned out so nice, and I always liked knowing that I was here, with Philip, sitting on the steps at the Taj Mahal, checking another item off my list of "Places to Sit for a Day."
January 29, 2008
Can't sleep. This never happens. And by "never" I mean in the last seven years I've never had this hard of a time falling back asleep: 40+ pages of American History book. Bowl of cereal. Water.
I've written letters in my head and silently recited lines of Hamlet.
I can sleep anywhere at virtually anytime. Today it was a post-PB&J snooze upright in Wilson Library over books on racial theory.
But tonight I got nothing.
January 28, 2008
January 27, 2008
K: *coffee bean flick*
G: [duck] missed. *Large piece of beef*
K: [dodge] missed. But went splat against the wall. *garlic fling*
G: [caught] *orange lob*
K: [juices] *carrot arrow shot from toy Dukes of Hazard kit*
G: [backfired] ha ha! *flaming onion toss*
K: [reels in confusion, wondering how one can set an onion on fire. douses with balsamic vinegar, thus making marinated onions and metaphysically ricocheting them]
G: *two! paper airplanes*
K: *rubber band! rubber band! hula!*
K: *mai tai! mai tai! myyyyy tiiiiiie in the mooooorning!*
G: [hunkers down, relinquishes turn to don metallic pan helmet}
K: [dons tinfoil helmet. tightens tenuous grip on reality.]
G: [scans kitchen]
G: *granola scattershot*
K: [sustains injury. applies bandaid. removes sink and creates bunker.]
K: *apple juice tsunami!*
G: [initiates swim-and-flight response system; dries off; dons goggles] *gathers words from newspaper and casts spell of distraction*
K: Lovely, lovely words! *literary swoon* Crafty jerk.
K: [inhales demerara sugar and recovers] *Presses orange button, initiates bookcase defense system a la computer wires scene in Superman 3. You are quickly encased by shelving and lovely, lovely books.*
G: [reconstitutes self as chlorinated water; ruins books; seeps out] *chlorine splash causes dry skin and itching*
K: [initiates cocoa butter dousing] *flings chamois.*
G: [quickly washes and dries car] *arc spray of dishwasher soap*
K: [activates spray head, takes quick yet modest shower] *cookie trebuchet*
G: [munch munch munch] *bath of boiling honey*
K: [initiates tea transformation spell, becomes robust cup of Earl Gray] *honey seepage glues you to the floor.*
G: [honey source reversal] *bees and pollen attack*
K: [begins Clorox Cleanup protocol, vanquishing both honey and bees] [waves wand at distracting Husband who comes bearing closet solutions]
K: calls a draw and bows
G: slumps in exhaustion
January 24, 2008
File Under "Health"
It's the first week back to school...
Me: Good to see you! How are you doing!?
Her: I'm good. How are you?
Me: You know, it's nice to be back.
Her: Where are your shoes?
Me: I took them off so my socks can dry by the time I bike home.
Her: Hmm....You look a little under the weather.
Me: Really? I feel pretty healthy. What makes you say that?
Her: Your eyes look bruised.
January 22, 2008
January 21, 2008
Swimming as Process, Writing as Process: Part II
The question driving this inquiry is this: How can I transfer the motivation and commitment I have for swimming onto my writing practice? Since I already have the advantage of demonstrating commitment and progress in one area of my life, it is (simply?) a matter of looking at what has worked to make swimming a success and then apply those techniques to writing. Then, bam, I'll have a successful writing practice! So what has worked to make me a committed and successful swimmer?
First, I do it every day. Even on the coldest, wettest, earliest mornings I'll be there, suiting up and hopping in. Second, I hold myself publicly accountable. I swim with a partner, which means I don't want to let him down and I don't want to let him beat me or get faster than me. I also post and track my workouts publicly against many other swimmers around the world. I try to stay ahead of rivals in Florida, Seattle, California, and Brazil. Next, I set goals. I swim in meets. I swim in open water races. I have a goal for yards per day, per week, and per year. I have goal times. I have expectations. I know how fast I am and I know how fast I want to be. Fourth, I design creative workouts. I create daily workouts that mix things up. It's rarely the same twice. Finally, I love the process. It's not the races or the meets that motivate, it's the daily sense of accomplishment; it's the awareness of my body as I move; it's my mind as it thinks in my hands, my feet, and my hips for every single stroke. Races merely reinforce the need to practice and they help identify and focus those practices; it's the process that I love.
At bottom, though, is a basic and fundamental belief that each and every stroke I take not only makes me faster for meets and open water races, but every stroke also makes me a stronger, smarter, and smoother swimmer overall. There is never a wasted moment in the pool. Warm ups, cool downs, the easy interval between tough sets, the drills, sprints, and long distance, each of these pushes me in different ways, challenging me to be better swimmer.
January 20, 2008
First and Last Meet of 2008?
Not sure when I'll race again. There's a meet in Feb., but I was planning on resting my shoulder for a bit. We'll see if that actually happens. A month and a half between meets; this is improvement:
Meet Times: 2007-8
January 18, 2008
Swimming as Process, Writing as Process: Part I
It's Friday, the high for the day is 5 degrees (-20 with the windchill), and I just returned from a nine mile bike ride to the pool to swim 3,500 yards. On a day like today, this is what my friend Matt calls a "Not-absolutely-necessary" trip. But as scholars we criticize; it's our life's work, and while we are usually trained on external things, our inner lives receive a lot of critical attention as well. But for an hour and a half every day swimming dulls the self-critical voice. Swimming shoves that voice underwater where it's indecipherable, just bubbles and gurgles. This, I've found, is important. And while I'll swim in a master's meet this weekend, races are not the reason I swim: it's the process. It's sitting silently on the side of the pool pondering which moment is the perfect moment to dive in. It's the first 25 underwater, suddenly silent and muffled. It's the main set, on the clock and focused, no time to talk. It's the breathing, the fast flip turns, and the warmdown, when the swim cap comes off and the water cools my head and I stretch out my stroke.
For the past two and a half years I've scheduled in swimming. It's a daily activity, and I'm committed to it. Since 2006, I've swam 1,128,750 yards, and that's taking four months off to rehabilitate my shoulders. Somedays it's the only thing I feel I really have to do. For a while now I've been telling myself and others that the pool is the only place where I see consistent progress.
But as a PhD student, there is something else I should be doing every day: writing. And it's a part of my life where consistent progress should also be discernible. That is, if I was writing. This week the discrepancy between my swimming practice and my writing practice became starkly obvious. I am not writing. For my own sake, let me say that again: I am not writing. But I am swimming, coldest weekend of the winter and I'm there in the pool, pushing myself and my shoulder harder than ever.
What's wrong with this picture? Where are my priorities? And most importantly, how can I shift the motivation I have for swimming into writing? After all, they're both skills requiring practice, they're both things I value, and they're both things I expect to do and get better at for the rest of my life? So, why aren't I writing?
January 17, 2008
January 16, 2008
I recall a cupboard, mom-stocked with colored boxes of refined grains. It stunned and amazed my friends: all the options. It never contained this variety from Cap'n Crunch (it is, after all, a limited edition variety), but Cap'n Crunch's Peanut Butter Crunch was definitely a staple. After baking my own granola for the past two and a half years (see below), this sort of cereal does not dare show it's face in my apartment. That is until I put "Fun Cereal" on my Christmas list.
But what is this constructed, red- and green-infused, crunch thing? There's nothing to it. Thank you, but after this box I'll be sticking to the granola. Sorry Cap'n Crunch, it's time we go our separate ways.
Question: If you look closely, doesn't his "mustache" look like a set of tusks and his free-floating "eyebrows" like horns? Are you some kind of wooly mammoth anti-christ, Cap'n? Have I ever truly known you?
Quetico Moment #2: Sailing the Canoe
Chris (who you can see piloting from behind) and I have long discussed throwing up the Kelty tarp and sailing the canoe into the sunset. But it's always been one of those things said half in jest and half in earnest. This year it happened.
It was windy on our last full day of paddling, a day where we covered 11 portages swiftly and nimbly. We'd battled the the wind for two tough days to get to Cache Bay, and as we entered the bay and our direction turned, the wind's affect on us changed. We rested for a moment. It was Chris, of course, who mentioned sailing. This was always his idea--he was the earnest one, me who took it in jest. But it was our last day, so why the hell not. I removed the tarp and handed him one corner and I held onto another. I tied off a third corner to my paddle and up it went. The wind grabbed it and we were off. Chris's smile tells the entire story of our first success.
Unfortunately, with this method we couldn't hold a straight line too easily, and Chris struggled to steer heroically one-handed. But as we rounded our last peninsula, entered Saganaga, and aimed the canoe for Hook Island (our traditional last stand in the Quetico), the wind was right at our backs. I took control of the tarp; Chris steered. I shoved most of it down into the front of the canoe and held it there with my feet. Then I opened my arms wide and the wind filled the tarp. We had a spinnaker! I couldn't see anything and my arms and shoulders quickly burned in exhaustion. This was harder than paddling. But we were moving. And I mean moving: the nose of the canoe dipped dangerously close to going under. I'd rest my arms every few minutes and each time the tarp came down the distance between us and the beach at Hook Island had closed significantly. We covered the two mile distance in no time, and the wind pushed us right into the sandy shore. Stepping out and after shaking off the pain in my shoulders, we admired the distance covered. We had just completed a two mile sail on Saganaga in a canoe. Utah, now safely on shore, turned and padded into the water. We dove in to join him. It was time to swim.
January 15, 2008
Quetico Moment #1: Swimming the Man Chain
This summer, late in our eleven day trip, when Chris and I chose to traverse the Man Chain (the lakes This Man, That Man, Other Man, and No Man), I decided I was going to swim one. Why not? I'd portaged my speedo many rods, it was 9 a.m., and it was warm without a whisper of wind. Halfway through, we passed a campsite, and my traversion was officially witnessed by a group of men and their dog. Re-energized, I dove under the canoe and out into deeper, colder water. Utah, Chris's yellow lab, kept good tabs on me. Fifteen minutes later, as my limbs started to get sluggishly numb from the frigid lake, I pulled myself out onto a large rock. Sun-drenched and smiling, muscles taut and shivering, I waited for Chris and Utah to retrieve me.
January 13, 2008