Sunday, December 15, 2013

darkness in replay

i imagine the blood that pumps through my veins; as i sit here, lay here, feeling time grace my cheek. it's like an old friend visiting after years of being away. you always knew they were around somewhere but didn't think enough of them to call them over. so here he is. unannounced, yet not entirely surprising. 

it happens slowly, happened... happening. 

there's a small chance that things could get ugly. those are the honest odds. 
however remaining honest in these times is not necessarily accurately gauged. you will find any way to compromise with the last inch of you that's sane. think of your batteries dying; all you have to do is get out of bed to recharge but getting out of bed is the most difficult thing that day. 

so you lay, i lay, i lie. 
i lie to myself and i've lied to others. 
i feel the warmth of my chest with my freezing hands. i notice the light on the ceiling and how it doesn't reach the darkness of my hallway. there is no light at the end of that hallway because i AM at the end. i am today. 

i check my pulse. 
there's a roaring voice. one that wants to fight and is cutting through my insides to come out. the voice has words to write and pages to read but my batteries are dead. i'm still in bed and despite having had the ability to get up this morning, the sun is quickly setting. the day is practically over and i can justify remaining here. 

i fight ever single day.
i will remain fighting but there are pockets that i slip into. there are timing errors miscalculated by my poor choices. choices i never regret, memories engraved by scents and sounds.


i have found that darkness follows you. 
i don't believe you can fully conquer your demons nor have i ever tried. i have befriended those creatures that have held me down so many times. not because i fear them but because the most beautiful verses have come from their company. i have different self destructive tendencies that have such beautiful timing. i am narcissistic enough to love myself in the darkest of times. i have never lost hope but there have been plenty of times where hope is all i had. 

my veins are dark. 
i can feel my heartbeat and i can see tomorrow.
i lay and will lay and wont rise. 
i will not call i will not answer. 
don't reach out and forgive the words.
don't forget however, because i come with them all. 
they are a part of me, and i believe i may have released them. 

i can feel my heartbeat.

Depression opens the door to beauty of some kind.
James Hillman 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

ridgecrest wind-down

"If you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong."
There's something raw and cleansing about running.

The feeling you get when you push your body past something it hasn't done before is incredible. You get a buzz from it, a certain happiness hits your chest and you're on some untouchable cloud for a good while. 
 In April I got to push my body past the 26.2 miles it had done six weeks prior at the LA Marathon. I ran Leona Divide 50k and I thought I conquered the distance. What I've learned recently, like today, is that you don't conquer the distance necessarily. It's that particular day you conquer. 

Today began like almost every race day;
I woke up before an alarm, I ate half a ProBar, set Pandora to Jay-Z and started putting on my running clothes in no particular order. I did happen to open our hotel room early on to see how cold 32 degrees really was. It was cold, really cold. 
We drove to the start, took some pictures, found an LA Legger and made our way to the start. No fancy guns, no loud horn, just a simple "GO." Nothing remarkably special about our morning besides the fact that we were lining up to run over thirty miles.  

Our game plan for today was simple; Be conservative, eat and drink on time, have fun.
The distance wasn't really on my mind. The early miles came quickly and each aid station was roughly 3-4 miles apart. For a race that started in 32 degree weather, it warmed up quickly. Off came the arm warmers at mile 6, off came the gloves at mile 7 and the buff finally came up over my hat somewhere after 10. With the weather being incredible and the miles zooming by, the race had hints of greatness in it already. 

We got to mile 13 feeling great. I saw a bright yellow sign in  the distance, right before the highway crossing. I couldn't stop grinning when I realized what it said and so I had to have a picture taken.

We ate, we drank, we were on our merry way.

After 13 is where a few things started.

1. I chose to run in my brand new Hokas because of the pain in my right foot. Up to this point however, my right foot felt incredible but my left foot had developed a sharp pain on the side.
2. I went to massage the pinky on my right hand that always stiffens up and I noticed it felt bigger than usual. I looked down to my hands and they were swollen. Swollen enough to where linking my hands together wasn't easily done. Swollen enough to freak  me out, making me constantly check them.
I keep looking at my hands.They seemed to be getting bigger.

We run to mile 16 where Jim's wife, Mollie, is there meeting us with our bags. I packed my Newtons in the car so I do a quick assessment of my body and and how much pain my foot is actually in. I go against the switch of shoes. I decide that the pain isn't getting worse and that I could just push it out.

Miles here start to just carve their way out. The sun is high above us at this point and it keeps getting warmer. We end up running in this pack of 7 runners and not a single word is spoken for a mile and a half. There was a synchronization about our movement. Our bodies all kept the same pace, the same breathing patterns and very similar form. for the next fifteen minutes we were all part of something together. We were a pack of human beings who all took pleasure in this sport. The pack broke off before the next aid station and Jim, Ang, and I regrouped. From here to the end was an incredible journey of uncontrollable laughter, jingle writing, lyric mashup, pop song-singing, and bad joke telling. The miles were filled with ridiculous words put together by tired minds that made little sense. We had a blast together and didn't hit any sort of physical wall. We played things smart and were consistent.

I could write pages about what we talked about and how truly silly I get after hours on a run but I don't think I can do any of it justice. So, I'll go back to my findings.

I don't believe I have conquered the thirty some miles. I did extremely well today and I wasn't sore after (yet). I think that my mental game as well as my core have continuously improved but I conquered the actual day. I conquered my race execution and how I dealt with pain and discomfort. I conquered my thoughts and silenced any doubt that could have crept up. I conquered today as I should conquer everyday. I woke up knowing I was going to give it all my positive being had to offer. I went in knowing that each step mattered, each was just as crucial as the one previous or the one that would follow.

Today I learned that the miles just happen. As long as you are moving forward. I learned that the moments you share with friends on the trail, are forever. I learned that not everyone gets this, and it's okay.

The count down has now been reset. 41 days until Avalon 50 miler where I will be pushing new boundaries, looking to conquer that day's race execution. And, a little over 300 days until one of my stretch goals will be attempted. But who's counting, right?

Friday, November 1, 2013


It was 1996 and I was nine years old; I had no idea what a fork lift was.

My mother was pregnant with my sister and in her third trimester. There were phone calls, some tears, more phone calls. I think it was night time but that could be my memory associating it with the darkness of it all. My dad hadn't been home for a few days but that was the nature of working as a semi truck driver. He wouldn't be coming home anytime soon, however.

No one really treats nine year olds like real human beings. They don't consider the possibility of them going through the same anxiety of not knowing what is going on. The fear of a child is very similar to that of an adult, maybe it even has a certain rawness to it. Perhaps there was a need to feel like they needed to protect me until they knew what was going on or how bad it really was. "They" by they way, is everyone else who appeared to know something about all these phone calls. "They" is all those people who told me "I'm sorry" and "Everything is ok".

I was left behind initially. My mother, in all her pregnant glory, rushed to the hospital while I waited at home with someone who apparently had no impact on my memory. I could have very well been left home alone since that too wasn't unusual in my growing up. When I was picked up, we didn't go to the hospital. My mother told me as little as possible. She said my dad had been hit from behind with a fork lift while he was unloading his truck. She still failed to tell me what a fork lift was so I created this image of a large fork coming after my dad and attacking him in the dark. I went to school like normal going through the day as though everything was fine.

I didn't get to see my dad until after he had surgery. I didn't know what anything meant but I heard doctors say he had two plastic disks inserted in his back. "He might not walk again, let alone drive." "The chances aren't great. He'll have to do a lot of physical therapy."

I had been going through a manic drawing phase to deal with no one talking to me directly. I wanted to draw something that would help my dad walk. I had piles of family pictures but I couldn't get my mom's pregnant figure right. And it always bothered me to draw my dad shorter than my mom. I spent hours with crayons and colored pencils until I finally finished. It was a portrait of the Virgin of Guadalupe. She was everywhere in our home and I always thought that my dad looked like Juan Diego at her feet. I don't remember how much thought I had placed behind it but looking back, it was oddly significant.

The Virgin of Guadalupe is a Catholic icon of the Virgin Mary who my mother named me after. Her belt is interpreted as a sign of pregnancy and  she healed Juan Diego's uncle as a sign of who she was. I therefor wanted her to heal my father. She initially revealed herself to Juan Diego in early December and so it fit in nicely, I thought, just appear again and fix this.

The drawing was received well. There were tears, there were "thank you"s and "I love you"s. My dad came home, went through therapy and began a long painful road to recovery.

All of this was the beginning.

Since no one feels the need to fill me in on what is happening to my life I am left with attempting to figure things out on my own.

My mother had stopped working because she was late in her pregnancy. She had struggled to get pregnant ever since she had me so no risks were wanted. Our pantry at home began to shrink and meals all became incredibly repetitive. A few family friends would come over with grocery bags. Funny gifts, I thought. One day after school we went grocery shopping but we drove past our VONS. We drove a few streets over to a small store with a counter that you weren't allowed past. My mom had a list and she requested the items as someone from the back grabbed them. She asked me if I wanted cereal but they had none that I had ever heard of. I remember the cheese looked different and later found out it tasted quite odd. All of our food fit into two bags and when my mom paid, it wasn't with money.

I remember crying.
I cried at night and I cried alone. I know my mom cried too because I could hear her through the walls of our house. I cried for my unborn baby sister and I cried because I didn't know what was going on. I wanted a baby sister to love but I didn't see how you could have a child when you didn't have food.

Things can change overnight, for the worse or for the better.
Sometimes it's not always clear which one you're going through but it can slap you hard, with a fork lift. There are moments in life which you can point to and say they changed you and this was one of them. Once again, this was the beginning to a fork in the road. Everything from here on was a  choice, lefts or rights because we had had enough back; Backs hit with fork lifts, forks that haunted my dreams, forks that you used to eat with, forks in the road.

Here our story made a full circle.
Here, while my baby sister doesn't remember, we faced hunger, fear, a cold winter and what I remember as, Where three of us hardened our hearts to keep from letting it hurt anymore.

Related or not,
Here I stopped saying "I love you"
Somewhere between love and pain

Sunday, October 20, 2013

a minor

[I can feel his fingers upon the keys. His touch takes me back, takes me away and elevates me. He caresses them, assures them they are each his. He looks up and dedicates every minor chord to me but I ask him to pick only two. The two that always remain on my skin and penetrate through my deepest fears. The two that only he can play just right. His hands - always with such beautiful timing.]

When we were young he would sit me on his bed and just play. He would play for hours and I would sit there, feeling. He never once asked why I was crying because he knew, he knew it was his chords, his hands, his touch. He had the music and I had the words. 
We wouldn't sleep. 
We wouldn't eat.
It was just love and music because when you're that young, that's all you need. You live off of scribbled pages and lost notes. You live freely and without time constraints but time still goes by just as quickly. So soon enough your stomach aches as mine did and I grew restless. I began to resent two of those black keys and asked that he never touch them again, to stop calling them by name even. I touched his bare shoulder and begged for him to turn around. I didn't want to sing anymore. I couldn't even bring a horn up to my lips without the taste of salt. 

"Perhaps we could just have a walking base line that we could fall asleep to tonight."

 But we didn't sleep for days and his eyes grew dark. His back still turned and those keys continued to mock me. My head was throbbing and the sound only grew louder and louder. He changed the time signature and made my heart skip a second. He played with the pedal and slapped my pain to the ground. It was never just the two of us. It was always the keys. It was always the love of vibrations. I was a simple bridge that provided all the necessary words to explain what those beautiful harmonies could do to your body. I always wondered what would happen when he ran out of notes, but it was the words that ran out first. For when I left through his window, I never again had anything to say about the beautiful boy and his black keys. Keys so dark they matched his hair and the darkness of his room. Keys so powerful that they possessed his deepest love. Keys so beautiful, that they never allowed him to truly see me. 

With intimate passion
you caressed each key
In ways I only dreamed
you'd ever touch me 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

chasing: reflecting on the long beach marathon

Coming up to mile 6 I had a wicked rad crowd cheering me on with members 
of Further Faster Forever and #TeamIGotYaBack. Bill ran with me for a bit
 as Joshua, Michelle and Manny stayed behind cheering. Bill sent me off with 
"Go get it" and that's where the race started.

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." 
T. S. Eliot

 It's Saturday morning and I have a cold. One that I am desperately attempting to remedy with a potent mix of organic ingredients all mixed in my hydroflask. I will lay in bed throughout the day and go back and forth on what I'm setting out to accomplish and why I want to desperately toe that line. 

Race Morning: still sick
I woke up to an empty apartment and a clear head. I set Pandora on my Jay-Z station like I do every race. I visualized the first two numbers I hoped to see on the time board and piece by piece put on my race necessities. I packed a bandanna and a sweatshirt for afterwards. I loaded my car and drove the 30ish miles on the empty freeway. What am I chasing, exactly?

I'll spare the unnecessarily embellished  details. 
I started out 30-50 seconds per mile faster than I had promised myself I would and I kept slowly speeding up.  My pace leveled off after mile 8 and I would look down occasionally at the sharpied splits written on my arm. I passed mile 13 and I was thirty minutes ahead of schedule, not part of the smart plan.
     I hit mile 17 and at this point I know it, but I try to deny it; I feel fatigued. 
I cant get down any more Pocket Fuel. My GU wont go down either. The mere feeling of it on my tongue makes me want to gag. I look for pretzels and when I finally find them I snag a few. Pop 'em in, chew... but can't swallow (yes, that's what she said...I know). I leave it in my mouth and try to wash it down with liquids but it's pointless.
    So... no calories. 7 miles to go with nothing to fuel off of. At this point I switch to powerade, thinking it's better than nothing. My right arm starts to tingle and I shake it off. Mile 20 comes and all I can think is "This is it, the last 10k, your fastest splits"  I speed up for maybe ten seconds and level back off at 10:10-10:30. That wouldn't be so bad except, I keep slowing down. I take a walk to shake it off. Try again... nothing. Now I'm in my head. 

I hate the road at this point. I start resenting the flat endless inches for that's all I could focus on, not miles. My mind stops and runs clear for a split second. 
I think of Scott (@runrevolt) and his blog post that weekend. I think of his words that burned at that moment, As the individual in the center of these polar opposites, I don’t know what to tell you. I don’t know if I’m good. I don’t know if I’m bad. I don’t know where to place my efforts, where to concentrate my emotional energies, where to even begin.
 I breathe deeply and think about this. I close my eyes briefly and visualize his health. Then I think of my own self inflicted pain. I'm mentally here when I catch sight of Jack. He begins to talk and stays running slightly ahead. Merely listening allows me to disconnect my mind from my body, and so I run. He stays with me up until the last quarter mile and I finish. I stop my Garmin, already knowing what it reads. There was nothing glorious about the finish, but that's because I didn't allow it. I ran hard despite my circumstances and I pushed every chance I got. I set out to run a hard race and I finished. I honored those who are injured and sick and no longer with us. I gutted myself on that course and that wasn't enough, on that day, for my timed goal. 
     I PRed at Long Beach by 16 minutes and I had one hell of a ride. I saw friends on the course and I kept others in my heart and thoughts. It's a race to be proud of but for days there was a heavy discontent in my heart and on my mind. One that I couldn't understand. One that I couldn't shake.
So, I'm left with this:
When we go chasing numbers, if not done right, it takes us away from the real reasons we do this, the real joy.  I've kept on running because it purges all my toxins, literally and figuratively. It boosts my confidence and mood. It mellows my manic thoughts and it strips me of everything I carry. I run because I know that there are people in hospital beds that would switch instances with me at any point of my suffering. I run to honor the gift of my legs and health. I run to inspire those around me. 

 I run to find myself. 

This doesn't mean I will stop chasing a time or distance. It means that before chasing anything, I must always remember the joy in each chosen stride. 

As for being sick, I'm paying for it now. My immune system probably crashed and my cough has been progressively worse. I feel incredibly tired and slightly irritated. I am still ridiculously hungry but my throat feels like it's been stripped raw. And, I'd do it again if given the choice. 

Monday, October 7, 2013


i try to recall every word that you speak
because every word that you speak is so sweet
and i try to recall - as i walk through the darkness - 
of the abandoned promenade streets
my head is spinning with the spin of a few drinks
and every drink is a new spin - on the words i can't keep - 
so i stumble and i wonder, how you stumbled home
i stumble through the night, cold and alone

I found him one night; alone and shirtless with two open wounds on his back. He had rough dark skin from days spent out in the sun, roaming in his own despair. In all those years, I never thought of asking him for his name, so I just called him my dark angel.
Despite the bloody mess of his back I couldn't help but notice his hands. Long, strong fingers and veins that appeared to glow under the moonlight. His touch would eventually make my heartbeat race while  my mind buzzed with incomprehensible thoughts. Colors would blend into grey shadows and all I would clearly sense after that would be sounds and smells.  
He told me he was in love with the water. "The waves have carried me to you." He'd whisper. He could never really tell me how he ended up on my side but I trusted him, trusted his smile, his shoulders. Night after night I would wait as the sun finished setting, knowing he would arrive shortly after. Days and weeks passed and I fell deeply in love with my dark angel. I might have manifested his appearance but his decision to keep coming back was his, I think. 

Perhaps I jumped too fast.

Maybe it was the way his lips tasted of salt and how it strangely reminded me of blood. It could have been how I could finally sleep without the sheets covering my feet whenever he was there. Or, how my hands fit perfectly into his, and how they never felt too hot. Regardless, I jumped. Jumped into and out of bedroom windows and out of closet doors. I jumped and fell away from the bruises and the scars. I kept falling faster and faster, away from every punch and broken mirror. I jumped into a wave of constant crashing pleasures and desires. I jumped into what I had envisioned, wanted, and created, long before I ever met him. 

The dark angel roams. However, he has other window sills to trace with his long fingers. He will forever claim the sand and waves in my mind. The smell of the ocean will be his for as long as I can hold onto and every crashing wave upon my shore will be followed by a sigh of anticipation. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

a beginning, of sorts

The first time I went on a writing binge was summer of 2000; I was twelve years old. I diagnosed myself with what at the time I thought was, "the worst heart break the world has ever known". (That title came straight from a poem written that summer) I spent every waking moment writing, rewriting, rereading and moping around. One late night I noticed a sort of wart-looking piece of skin on the left top part of my right middle finger. My first callus. My first broken-heart-induced callus. I would never be the same, and that callus would only get bigger.

As a child I often had phases of feeling alone. Not lonely, but alone in the things I knew, the things I believed, and the things I understood. I don't exactly remember when I started writing but I know that I always kept a journal of some sort. My mother always ended up coming across my journals so in hopes of finding privacy, I would write short poems on tiny pieces of paper and hide them in boxes under my bed. This would be a growing habit until my early adult life and the journals kept piling up. The person I was at home was drastically different than the loud, outgoing energy ball everyone else knew. But on paper, I was always the same. 

Writing and reading were always my escape. Whether it was from pain, rejection, loneliness, over-socializing, exhaustion, uneasiness... I always came back to this.

So, this is my first attempt at a blog, since I've always been a pen and paper type of gal. 

*Side note: Until this day, I still find random sheets of paper when I clean out my car, move, or visit my mother's house.  

"Life is a beautiful flower
It blossoms, then wilts and dies"
-2004 excerpt