Tuesday, April 28, 2009

new favorites; or at least, some posts I think are okay.

Back in March 2008 I did an entry called 20 favorites, in which I listed and linked people to my favorite posts. Now it's been over a year since that post, so here is an update. I can't say these are favorite posts, but at least here are a few from the year between March 2008 and now that I think are alright reading.

1. surreal emmerging.

2. Jerry Lee's Kwik Stop - this is an article I wrote for Country Roads that I still really like.

3. documenting change: twelve.

4. head in the clouds feet on the ground.

5. memorial day weekend road trip.

6. things you do in an airport.

7. liquid assets - another Country Roads story.

8. gustav.

9. sajan.

10. city in my mind.

11. quite well.

12. childhood bystander.

13. ways you know Austin is turning into home.

14. constructing memory.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

right now.

I am feeling really blah about this blog, and think I need to take a little break from it. I will update it soon with a list of current favorite entries. Maybe this will inspire some ideas.

Friday, April 24, 2009

a little stuart smalley never hurt anybody.

Last year, as I was panicking in a muddy bayou, convinced I could not expel air if I put my head under water, certain that I could not do a stroke, my coach, a usually quiet and mild mannered young guy, stood at the bank and shouted: SWIM. PUT YOUR HEAD IN THE WATER AND SWIM.

More to myself than to any other person, I was mumbling as I treaded: I can’t swim. I can't breathe.

To which he responded: YES YOU CAN.

Tomorrow is my first triathlon of the year, and I’m doing some self-motivation, Stuart Smalley style: I’m good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.

I’m trying to remember the things I said to myself last year as I talked my nerves away during my second event, at which I did not have an anxiety attack.

I reminded myself: You love the water. You love to swim. You love to be immersed in water. So get in and have fun. You’re doing something you love to do.

I remembered my mother: Your mother couldn’t swim, and she wished she could. When you get in that water, swim like you are swimming for her.

A prayer I’d grown up listening to nearly every day began reciting in my head.

Somewhere along the way, between these two reminders and this prayer playing in my head - a metronome helping me keep pace - I began to feel like I was a whale in the water, and my mother was riding on my back, laughing, laughing, laughing when the water splashed her face. I could practically hear her laughter.

I’m trying to remind myself that something inside kicks in if you allow it to – if you get over your fears and open yourself up to the fun, the accomplishment and the joy. Is it a survival instinct? Some seed of stubbornness that won't allow you to fail?

I have my triathlon class today, and I may go to yoga in the evening. Then early to bed, lots more self-talk playing out while I try to drift.

Finally, in case you don't get why I feel so much dread about the swim, here is one small reason among many. Enjoy.

SONG: Higher Ground, Red Hot Chili Peppers (I know. I know. The original version is great, but somehow this one fit me better today.)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

constructing memory.

I’ve been thinking about a perspective drawing my husband had to do during his first year studying architecture. It was a complicated mass of lines extending from different points to form the object. I think it was a 2-point perspective, but it could have been a 3-point perspective. It is fitting that I cannot properly recall. The drawing had been penciled onto a large piece of wood that had first been painted white. Lines and lines of grey lead crossing over a white background.

My memory of an event/object/place is formed from the points at which I viewed/experienced the moment, and another person’s memory of the same moment is formed from the unique points at which that person viewed/experienced the moment. Maybe, depending on who is doing the remembering, no memory is correct in the same way that every memory is correct?

I think I am going to begin a novel. I think I am. Rather, I may have already begun a novel. Memory is what I have been thinking about. How differently will my characters remember the same event?

I did my own perspective drawing while I was studying landscape architecture. It was simpler and sloppier than my husband's. I drew the Donnell garden, a residential space I’d long admired and that I ultimately visited. I know that perspective drawings are no more easily constructed than are one's memories.

I can’t find the drawing itself, but above are some of my montaged photos of the Donnell garden.

SONG: Modern Girl, Sleater Kinney

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Elise flew in from NY on Good Friday. This was on April 12, Easter Sunday:

Me: How did we meet?

E: Marcie.

Me: But how?

E: You know the story better than me. I can’t remember shit. Remember?


I am not sure what day this was:

Me: Tell me a story.

E: Echk. I don’t like telling stories. I like open ended questions. I don’t think I’d be a very good blog entry.

Me: You don’t know.

E: I need to take my medication. (And she walks away)

Me: Tell me something that happened that involves us. Can you remember a fight we got into?

E: No. Probably to do with me eating off your plate. Not doing the dishes. Not wanting to go out.

Me: We got in a fight about that (not wanting to go out)?

E: No. I’m making stuff up.

Me: What are some things we did together?

E: Canoed. Some things that I can’t say. No. I can’t say that – that sounds really nasty. Especially after you said you wanted to *F* me.

Me: That’s not what I SAID. Fucking facebook. Ok. What are some things we did together?

E: We studied.

Me. I don’t remember studying. Ever. Oh. We did art projects together.

E: Yeah. Remember when I typed your paper as you dictated? On a typewriter, no less. That’s old school.

Me: I also used to write stories at your parents’ house on their computer.

E: Really?

Me: Yeah. You don’t remember?

E: I remember you making my dad do stuff.

Me: Ruby! GET DOWN. (Ruby ignores me and stays on the bed.) That sounds nasty.

E: Your art stuff.

Me: Yeah, we built a tree house. A mini one. With a crape myrtle branch.

E: He was really proud of it.

Me: He was? How do you know?

E: He gets this glow. (hysterical laughter breaking out.) It’s true. You know you just know your parents?

Me: I was proud of that thing too.

E: What else did we do? We would go to The Bayou. We would go hear music. We would go on obscure trips that G. usually orchestrated. We went backpacking and camping. We would hang out at the Institution. We had a nice porch on State Street. And a crazy landlord.

Me: Remember that glass mobile?

E: A crazy racist landlord.

Me: I have to get ready for swimming. Bleh. Any final words?

E: Is this the end of our blog?

Me: No.

E: You can stop and breathe anytime you need to. Come up for air.


This is the night before she leaves, or rather, the early morning of the day she will leave (2:55 am, April 17):

Me: Elise, what was your favorite part about this trip?

E: Uhh, canoeing.

Me: Was there a favorite meal you had?

E: Today’s was good. (Soup and sandwiches at The Woodland. And we ordered pie - 1 chocolate peanut butter and 1 coconut cream - that we brought home to eat.)


12:35 pm, Sat. April 17:

Me: Do you have any final thoughts before you head home?

E: I don’t like being interviewed.

Me: I’m not interviewing you. I’m asking you simple questions.

E: That’s a misrepresentation. It makes me self-conscious. I can’t just be in my natural element.

Me: How do you feel about Ruby right now?

E: She’s okay. She’s learned that she has to be calm around me… She’s gotta mirror my essence. Calm.

Me: That sounds so Austin of you.

E: It’s true. Hip.

Me: No. I think it’s more new agey/hippie.

E: I think you should dred her fur. At least Basil’s. Chris, you don’t have to shave Basil. You could just dred her.

Me: How many white dreds did you see while you were in Austin?

E: 18. 19 if you count the one on TV.

SONG: Soothe, Luscious Jackson & The Crystal Cat, Dan Deacon (cause this is the show e., c. & I went to in Austin)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


(THREE new entries today! This will probably be for the week.)

I’ve talked and daydreamed about some major travel for a long time. Particularly, I was hoping for an extended trip to India with my husband. And guess what? We’re going! We take off at the end of May and spend one whole month exploring the states of Punjab, Rajasthan and Delhi. I am ecstatic and nervous at once. After the month in India (during which we’ll get to see maybe the equivalent of half of Texas, which is really only a tiny sliver of India - boo), we have a week to do nothing on the beach in Puerto Rico (yay!). C. has a good friend who lives there and is from there, and we’ll get to see him for the first time in a couple of years.

Things fall into place all the time. I really believe this. I haven't read The Secret, Oprah, but I must be doing something right. Right?

things i am longing for.

Today while I was running, I noticed the Texas wildflowers in bloom. Thank goodness for Lady Bird Johnson and her wildflower initiative. Thank goodness also, that we’ve had some actual RAIN in the past few weeks, and things have turned, even if temporarily, from brown to green.

Beside the wildflowers, I also noticed a community garden. It looked so inviting that I wanted to abandon my run and explore what was planted. I did not.

But I did begin to fantasize. I am fantasizing about having a house of my own in Austin. Since I finally got a little brave (only a little) about experimenting with gardening the year before I moved away from BR, I feel like I can continue getting my hands dirty. Seeing the community garden made me wish for my own little yard in which to plant some vegetables (something I’ve yet to try) and also some of the strange native mix of dessert plants and southeastern lushness.

As well as a yard to plant in, I’d like my own home altogether, one tucked inside of a neighborhood instead of on a busy street. Eventually. Maybe this time next year? Maybe in two years?

to do.

There are a lot of things that need doing. For instance:



Travel Visa application.


This month's bills.

Cleaning the house to get ready for a visit from my friend E!!!

Some health insurance stuff. UGH. (biggest issue of procrastination yet)

Grade 20 essays (before E. arrives on Friday!)

Yet, I've been procrastinating.

Here is something I am wondering about. If you see an item of clothing in a thrift shop, and it’s about $10 more than you really want to spend, but then you have a dream about it, should you suck up the $10 and make the purchase? Here is what happens in the dream: You walk into a party, and a stranger greets you. She is wearing the jacket, and you feel wholly envious. It is off white, linen, circa 1940. It has ¾ length sleeves. It is not a full-length jacket – it falls just at your belly button, maybe a little lower, but it is not fitted. It hangs loosely. The bottom third of the body and sleeves is embroidered with a striking black pattern. It looks summery, on the dressy side, but also like it could be dressed down with jeans and a T-shirt.

If I am daydreaming about this jacket, I guess I am not really getting on to the business of my day, am I?

And she’s off.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

fish breathing.

Exhale. Okay. It’s been a long time since I wrote an entry that contained any real thought. I’m feeling out of practice, to be honest.

I guess I’ll talk a little about the upcoming triathlon. I’m not in nearly as good shape as I was last year, but last year I’d been doing quite a bit of weight training prior to my triathlon training. So my stomach was flatter. My arms a little more toned (only a little). I was a few pounds lighter. My body is mushier now. That’s okay with me for the time being.

Regardless of the shape of my body, I’ve been training for my next triathlon since February. I haven’t trained with quite as much rigor, but I’m finding that school is it’s own kind of job. I don’t have control over deadlines and due dates in the same way that I did when I was working freelance. I guess that I also want to be able to think of triathlons as relaxation instead of as extra work.

A little mushier, a little less rigorous, not to worry. I think I’ll be ready. This year will still feel like a feat for me. My event is on May 17, and I’ll swim 800 meters (a half mile) in open water. This is twice the distance of last year’s events, and this time, I intend not to let my anxiety get the best of me when I’m in the water. The run is also longer for this event – a 5K (3.1 miles) instead of 2 miles. (The bike is the same – 12 miles.). The event is far from a full length event; it’s a “sprint” distance event. (The ones last year were “super sprint” distance events.)

This month, my triathlon class begins training in open water. I’ll have a month and a half to get used to swimming in the open water. We’ll begin at Barton Springs, but I’m hopeful that I’ll have at least one opportunity to swim in Decker Lake (where the event will take place) prior to the race day.

Swimming – okay, watch out, I’m about to throw out invented personal theories – is like 4 % physical ability, 8% technique/form and 88% mental ability. So here is what I’m working on in the swimming pool: Keeping my core tight when I swim. Maintaining proper form. Finally, I’ve been envisioning myself as a guppy in the water. Eventually, I’m going to be able to see myself as a fish. I’ll know what color my scales are. I’ll know what my tail looks like, my fins. And while this fish swims, she’s going to be reciting a meditation. It will flow like breath, like a fish breathing under water, natural.

May is the month of my mother’s birthday. May is the month of Mother’s Day. May is when I thought most of her last year – it is when she surprise-popped into my mind as I was completing my second super-sprint triathlon. As soon as I felt her with me, I knew that triathlons would become my personal and private way to spend time with her memory and to celebrate her.

Last year, I had the additional gift of completing the event with a young woman who trained in memory of her brother who had died in a glacier climbing accident (and who had been training for an event he did not get to complete).

This year, I have the pleasure of competing with one of my classmates – a fantastic writer, as far as I am concerned. I’d asked her early on if she was interested in taking this training class with me, and I was so excited when she decided to do it. In truth, she’s become a motivating and comforting work partner. We get together and talk and laugh, and then our computers come on, and we sit for hours, focused and productive – sometimes on schoolwork, sometimes on personal projects, sometimes on earning our keep (that would be her, since my keep is attached to school for now).

I’ve also met a couple of women in my training class whose – “company” is not the right word; “aura” is not the right word – essence I enjoy greatly. Their inner personalities, which seem to radiate out from their skin, are shiny and kind and open and genuine. I know that sounds like some new agey shit, but it’s what I feel when I’m in the triathlon class with them. (Come to think of it, it’s the sense I have about my classmate who’s also training.) Both women are as new as to Austin as I am (one transplanted from the UK and the other transplanted from CA); both are mothers of three; both are about ten years my senior; both will be doing a triathlon for the first time.

I’m looking forward to the event. I don’t have the same wide-eyed-oh-my-god-I-can’t-believe-I’m-doing-this wonder I had last year. Now, I believe it entirely. I’m doing a triathlon. Rolls off my tongue without any amazement or confusion; it doesn’t feel impressive or strange, there’s no –wait-who-am-I-again? going on in my head.

I’m considering doing a super sprint on April 28 as a warm up for the “big” May event. The swim in April is only 200 meters – a distance I feel completely at ease with, and it takes place in Lake Travis.

Between the super sprint in April and the sprint event in May, if I complete them anxiety-attack free and with no falling off my bike or dropping my water bottle, I think I’ll be able to call myself a triathlete rather than a try-athlete. I don’t know. Maybe next year when I’m competing on a road bike instead of a mountain bike, maybe then I can say I’m a triathlete. I’ll let you know what feels right in May.