I was only going to swim for two hours — max.
“I don’t think I’ll do the whole 10K,” I told my friend Tricia a week before. “My shoulder.” I nodded toward the offending body part.
Tricia is preparing to swim the English Channel this August. Since November, a generous club manager has provided three hours at an outdoor pool once a month for distance training. …
Twenty nervous shoppers, most of us strangers, wheel our carts past the sweet onions, green bananas, early season peaches. I go the wrong way down the soup aisle.
It’s May, still early days in the pandemic. When a woman points out my error I apologize, defensively.
“Oh it’s OK,” the woman says with unexpected warmth. Her eyes are ice blue; they sparkle. She wears a black mask, so I rely on the language of her eyes to fill in the story.
“I messed it up too,” she assures me. “We’ll get it down eventually.”
That’s all it takes: a moment…
Tell me again what it’s like to sit in a cafe on a January morning, the sky still on the verge of daybreak here in the Pacific Northwest when light appears at 7:30 a.m.
Tell me about the people sitting at surrounding tables: individuals hunched over laptops and porcelain mugs; a booth of friends meeting to share stories about their controlling bosses, a concert, the thundering fatigue of parenthood, a recently run marathon.
Remind me of the music, the alternative radio fare that mixes, say, Nick Drake followed by an unrecognizable hip-hop/techno mashup I’d only ever appreciate away from home.
What do our covid purchases reveal about our lives?
In Late July a group of swim pals were sitting around a patio enjoying strong coffee and sweet treats after a long lake swim. We’re always in a state of life-appreciation after spending 90 minutes moving through calm butter-water, as we call a smooth velvety day on the lake. A pandemic was in bloom, yet we were happy in this moment, happy to be able to swim on a gorgeous summer morning and be together.
“Have you noticed how much money you’re saving during covid?” one friend sighed. …
Dear Nice Man on the Park Bench,
It was just a pedestrian head-nod greeting last Friday morning, at Madison Beach in a thick silver world. The smoke was beginning to clear, the AQI was in the lower end of “Unhealthy”, the clouds were billowy and grey. But a mirror-flat lake was scattered with swimmers saying screw you to stay-indoor warnings, and I figure you’d had enough as well. You seemed comfortable here, like this was a familiar bench.
I nodded at you as I stepped out of the water, you nodded back; as I toweled off you sighed and said…
On a recent grey afternoon, the kind of Seattle winter where the clouds hang low and crowded in the sky, I met with a woman who was ready to change her life.
“I’m feeling stuck,” she said. This was a competent, talented human — poised on the edge of re-invention.
I nodded, a bit mesmerized by the grace of her straight-shouldered poise, her easy smile, the way she gazed out the window and contemplated her words. I get that sneaky feeling of stuck-ness; I hear about it from people who attempt to convince me of their stuck-ness almost daily.
The simple act of seeing something new can change your life.
Before this June, I didn’t know that cars came in brown.
I have no recollection of ever seeing a brown car. The phrase “brown car” strikes no chord of familiarity. There has been no: “Look for the brown car” or “She has a brown car” or “I’m looking at a new hatchback — what do you think of brown?” No “Your car is such a nice shade of brown.” …
Don’t let your thinking carry you away.
I was sitting in conversation with a friend on a dewy, blue-sky morning. We sat side by side, with our knees angled toward each other in red Adirondack chairs, holding steaming cups of coffee. There were flowers bursting from garden beds; a long serpentine hedge that separated us from the street down below; birds hopped busily all over the place. Our view was the evergreen trees, Lake Washington, a peak of the Cascade mountain range rising at the horizon.
Inside this beautiful universe we were lost in the flow of a conversation, one…
I was having one of those Mondays: low energy, not super motivated. A big case of the Blahs. Outside, the skies were white and smoky from the surrounding fires, transforming a pretty summer day into a sci-fi setting for a nuclear fall-out movie. Inside I was moping around, migrating from living room to kitchen to my office, snacking on leftover pancakes and plums, passing my husband in the hallway with a long face and sloped shoulders.
Things worsened after I got off a phone conversation with a friend who is an accomplished and ambitious business woman. …
It’s easy to feel stuck in the search.
“I need to figure out what to do with my career.”
“What do I do next with my life?”
“This isn’t working but I don’t know what the answer is.”
I’ve said or thought some version of these phrases about half a billion times over my life. And when I get caught up in these phrases, they serve as prison bars, keeping me locked up behind their prickly letters, staying overwhelmed and unsure where to go, what to do first.
We all get stuck in the search. We’re human. But…