our lady of the table grapes

You were an endangered species, out of it, staring into your bowl of green seedless table grapes. And the weather outside was frightful. I asked you again about the backyard, and you said that you didn’t grow up there, your eyelashes were too long. Nat King Cole came on the radio and I suddenly felt safer than I really was. You took out your personal fork and stabbed a grape dead. I could not make sense of you, all I knew was you had no manners and a predilection for round juicy fruits. I picked up my pen and wrote a letter to the devil, carefully, on a soft cotton sheet of medicated Kleenex… dear Satan, could you please make a home for our homicidal lady of the table grapes?

k when k was k circa 2012

get used to it

Get used to it….
you may not have a choice

Get used to indifference to your causes. Only a few will care about you, so get down on your knees and show them some deference. Take them to coffee if your knees have bummed out. Get used to relocating, if your bank accounts aren’t impenetrable. If you have enough money for food and shelter, you can still survive. Relocate your spirit toward adventure. Nesting is for the birds! Get used to tornadoes or find a stronger vine and hang on for dear life. Some of us like to spin around for dear life! Unless our homes are anchored, man, we gotta keep flapping our wings and be ready. Get used to extremity. A good way to start is in the shower. Turn hot to cold and back to hot. This is good for your chakras. This is good, the shock. Get used to it.

two clicks and a book

I do not write mysteries. Writing is the mystery and a book, a puzzle piece, a small part of being solved. I am wondering if I have what I need to do what I wish to now do? The magic number, I make it fourteen. Two weeks, to get back to you. To immerse myself in the colorful cove of creative process, and finish what I started a little over a year ago. There is a battle on our screens, online, for our eyes, our attention, our desires. When we are tired, they win. I go to do something creative and if I make one mistake, chasing down an email or a tweet – any packet of information – I may be sucked to the bottom of a sloping hill of mud, two clicks away, marching my way up and back to reclaim my sacred land… but always two clicks away. I wonder if I have what it takes to stand my ground? I have all my rations, all my munitions, and all my comrades around me. I have my health and my family, and my faith. I can easily recall when the world came over me, a long shadow before a setting sun. I plodded my way through the deepest night. Lost, I surrendered; and they had mercy on me. I don’t know how or why. I was a pitiful starved creature, lunatic raving and howling, chained to an iron post on a cracked island of asphalt. I was the one who broke dumb from the pack. Now they saw I was no threat and marched me through a wasted land of drought. I focused on the stars of windless night until I was one, too, the smallest and farthest away. And brighter grew. I stretched for the sun out of a cold, dark place only I inhabited. Not at first, but soon I was touched. I found something there I cannot describe. In the poverty of speech one may call it ‘god’ – if only to relate. The thing which keeps me bright. This thing which can keep me up all night. That which helps me shine through darkness. Immerses me in sacred process, helps me hold my ground. In fourteen days or not, two clicks away and shot, from the bottoms ever climbing… I wonder will I find my way, and back to you? Otherwise, this book may live a lonely life in my heart.

Jennifer Mendiola

in memoriam – Jennifer M.

You were my friend. You had reached out to me in January of this year, randomly, and I was so glad to hear from you, I don’t know why I did not follow the way to see if we could hook up for a moment in this life, one last time? Life gets chaotic and there’s nothing much you can do. Suddenly starts, suddenly ends, and gradually you realize you never know when. We can try, though, and that’s exactly what I forgot to do, about you. Jennifer Mendiola aka Alana Kane. I will miss your enduring smile. I cried very hard tonight when I discovered you sailed out on a Ghost Ship and never to return. The clock struck midnight and you and your lover, you were dancing, you were gone. I remember back in 2009 when I met you South of Market, San Francisco. We were counselors at a painful place. Sixteen beds for sixteen lost and homeless souls. I brought my desire to help. You brought your presence and your smile. We got along easily, though the work we had to do was hard and brutal. Just outside those double locked doors in this sanctuary city, people were driven to desperate intoxication and suicidal panic, and all the time. I could not believe you at first, I wondered how could you smile all day long like that? From dawn to 3pm when we got out. There were times I thought you must be faking it, I confess. All the methadone nods of sixteen souls all around us? The cutting scars and track marks? The lonely vacant stares, up and down the carpet stairs. But we knew we could make a small difference in a semi-safe space. Listen to them tell us their stories. Hold them if they cried. Teach them simple skills if they wanted to learn. Laugh like we were family, and for a time we were. Everything about it could be cold, day by day. Yet you smiled. I guess you had just recently been married around then, I didn’t really know or maybe I forgot. All I know is we worked well together and kept the place running, which was the best we could do with phones ringing, doors buzzing, and sixteen souls in need of something all the time. I really admired you. I knew I could trust you, you worked real hard and really cared. If I walked in the door and saw you, those early foggy San Francisco mornings, some of that tension, that burden a social worker experiences inside, fell off of me immediately. I could take my earbuds out, warm my hands with breath, take a deep breath and look to you. Talk to you. Get willing with you toward the day ahead of us. I will miss you my friend. I will think upon you when the work gets brutal, and try and smile through.

running and nutrition

how to run a marathon – part 3

Nutrition. I decided on an ideal race weight based on my build, by comparing against a professional runner of similar build. Taking off pounds is important because it eases the incredible impact of your weight on your legs. I lost about 10lbs in 2 months and though it’s not much, it made a really big difference. Gravity didn’t hurt so bad.

My staple diet for the 4 months of training consisted of oatmeal, peanut butter & jelly, pan-fried tilapia in olive oil, garlic, shrimp, tunafish, honey, granola, fruit, fruit juice, wheat bread and pasta, lots of tomatoes, cup of noodles, all the V8 juice combinations, bananas, oranges, muscle milk (which i found tasted pretty good mixed with hot coffee), tea, broiled turkey/chicken with veggies, jamba juice, spinach, eggplant, salad, almonds, quinoa, almond milk, salads, eggs, sweet potatoes, soups. On weekends after long runs I often treated myself to the stuff I cut out: pizza (cheese), chicken wings, hamburgers, steak, butter, bacon. So I could get the cravings out of my system once in a while. I also took B-complex and multivitamins every single day, and sometimes those green tea extract pills.

I usually start my day with some oatmeal/granola and honey and fruit, maybe some brown sugar. And a thermos of coffee/tea mixed with almond milk. Then I will snack while I’m at work on apples and oranges and granola/protein bars. After work (I work a nightshift) I will fry eggs, sometimes a whole wheat muffin, garlic, onion, ketchup (sandwich). Rest for an hour or two before my daily run (unless it’s summer when I have to get on the road/river early. After my run it’s a good idea to have some protein of some kind within the first half hour, otherwise hydrate through the day, fruit juices, water, granola bar, jamba juice. When I wake up at night before work, I might broil chicken or fish with veggies, or pan fry in olive oil. I rarely do both the big breakfast (eggs) and the big dinner (fish/meat/pasta) on the same day when I am training. I don’t need that much food unless I ran for over a couple of hours. I substitute something smaller, soup/salad/oatmeal/tunafish/pb&j, in lieu of one of those meals. This is what works for me.

The week leading up to a race, you wanna hydrate and carb-load religiously if you can. Meaning small meals several times a day, keep drinking water. I found that eating well makes me feel good, running makes me feel good, yoga makes me feel good, so I would just remind myself of this! It makes sacrifice and effort a whole lot easier when you see the bigger picture. You are a star! You are so healthy! You are the lean, mean, running machine!

how to run

how to run a marathon – part 2

Learning to run great distances is a -DIY- do it yourself adventure. Meaning have fun and experiment with options. You will learn not only about your body and mind and spirit, but also open yourself up to a whole new universe of extreme sports. Every time I thought I had nothing more to learn, some challenge arose which caused me to discover more. Not only do you get to be outdoors in nature for hours at a time (i did exactly zero minutes zero hours in the gym), but you get to experience deeper breathing, the runner’s high, and comradery with fellow runners. There’s a lot of physical pain that accompanies extreme sports, so it takes a certain kinda person to subject themselves voluntarily to running a marathon. And many people think we are crazy ’cause we don’t get paid. We have to cover the costs of entrance fees, shoes and equipment, yes. I had at least a half dozen perfect strangers over the past 6 months tell me I must be crazy. Haha-ha!

All I can say is I am 43 years old and probably in the best shape of my life. I rocked 26.2 miles and got a ton of love from spectators, family, friends, and other runners. I spend countless hours along the most beautiful river in northern California, which I otherwise might have wasted online staring at a computer or worse. And I have a huge sense of accomplishment which carries over to confidence I have in everything I do. Now if that’s ‘crazy’ – please – make me insane!

I try and keep things simple or minimalist: no watch, no headphones, no camelbacks while running. Garmin makes watches which track your pace and heartbeat and distance and many runners have them, but you don’t need them if you’re concerned only with having fun and finishing, not with racing. It’s all up to you. A flipbelt will hold up to 10 GU gels around your waist, which is all the energy you need for 26.2! You can keep stuff in a wristband, too, including S-caps and even powdered supplement mix or gatorade in a plastic baggie for when you find a water fountain. I used GU Roctane during the marathon, which has sodium, caffeine, and extra amino acids. I also took S-Caps (salt and potassium pills) to keep safe from dehydration. My method was 1 GU every 40 minutes, 1 S-Cap every hour, for 5 hours. Just before my long runs, I drank a bottle of water mixed with Apex pre-workout mix (1 scoop) and Old School’s ‘Vintage Blast’ pre-workout (1 scoop) in lieu of GU. During the marathon I drank water and/or gatorade/nuun at every aid station, approx every 3 miles. When training on your own, you must find water fountains or hide a water bottle ahead of time, if you do not carry water. Don’t go more than 6 miles without fluids! Bananas and oranges were offered along the CIM course and I always took them.

Your energy level will go in waves! When tired, shorten your stride and ease back on your pace. When energized, I say go for it and pick up the pace. Listen to your body. If you suffer runner’s knee or other joint pain: KT-Tape is the bomb! Use it. Carry it. Negative splits are better than positive splits! Meaning run the first half slower than the second. I hit a wall hard after running 10min miles for the first half of my first race, which was a 20 miler one month before the marathon. My natural pace is 11 min/mile, but I had a lot of adrenaline and was pushing hard. I learned quickly the dangers of the positive split. My legs were so tired by mile 16 I could hardly continue on. But experiencing this wall over the next 4 miles was probably good for me, because I learned how to run on tired legs and finish.

You can discover your pace by knowing your distance and time, checking the clock before you set out and after you return. ┬áJust subtract any time you took for water/bathroom breaks. You can easily map out your route distance beforehand by going to google maps, right clicking your mouse and selecting ‘measure distance’. Then you divide your total minutes ran by total distance ran, to get your pace. It’s that simple. I found that I consistently ran a natural pace and could chip away at it on shorter runs.

how to run

how to run a marathon – part 1

Having run the CIM 2016 (my first marathon) in 4:58, I wanna to show some love and share my experience with any runners who wish to take on the challenge. I got so much wonderful and free advice online from so many bloggers along the way! I am so grateful. Here are some things that worked for me in my adventure. I hope they work for you, too…

If you are starting from scratch, give it a 4-6 month training window. Go ahead and find a tried and true schedule and post it on your wall. I used Hal Higdon’s 16 week intermediate marathon training schedule. Let yourself stray from the schedule based on your instincts. Everyone has their own personal challenges which will impact daily life. Just know that if you keep running, your legs will get stronger. 10% increases in mileage per week is considered the gold standard. Many runners alternate weeks increasing their sunday long runs to new distances, then falling back to rest the legs. I started out running totals of 15-20 miles a week, then worked my way up to 50-60 miles (with a 20 mile longest sunday run) in 12 weeks, then used the last 4 weeks to taper back down to 20-30 range, letting the legs recover before the big one. Cross-training is essential. I chose cycling and hiking. If I felt I needed a day off, I took it. If I could run 5 days straight, I did. The back-2-back concept is very helpful for learning/feeling how to run on tired legs. Hitting a wall here and there is good for you to experience the pain and try and run through it. Psychological/mental conditioning.

There is such a thing as over-training and it’s dangerous! Keep to the schedule if you can. You could injure yourself. New runners can be prone to injuries because your body is still adjusting to the high impact sport of long distance running. What happens with a new runner is your body tries to acclimate to the stress of impact, and often expends energy trying to stabilize/protect your legs. Experienced runners will find that, once acclimated, the body will be able to use those energy channels towards forward momentum.

Buy quality running shoes that are made for long distances. My personal favorite shoe and the one that got me through: Brooks’ Launch 3! A ‘neutral trainer’ that is very supportive but not too heavy, and has the kind of midsole cushioning which pushes back to help your forward momentum. Be aware of ‘pronation’ and have someone check your stride. Shoes wear out in 300-500 miles. Have an alternate pair and keep track. Faster runners tend to run on different shoes than they train on. Hokas are cushiony and good for recovery runs. The Pegasus 33 Nikes are good but a bit heavy. There are tons of useful shoe and product reviews all over the internet. Use them.

Use anti-chafing sticks like ‘Body Glide’ for surfers. Long runs will rub raw your arms, feet, inside of your thighs, anywhere there’s friction. Experiment with socks. They do make socks these days which prevent blisters, but moleskin helps, too. I experienced a knee injury while breaking in my Hokas which caused me to need new shoes only days before my race, and the ‘Swiftwick’ socks I was offered kept the blisters at bay. If you do get blisters while training, there are safe ways to pop and bandage them and keep running without delay. Don’t forget suntan lotion if you are fair-skinned. Nobody loves skin cancer and you may be out running for 3-4 hours at a time…

permanently pressed

today i am light
i am even
grown up
from the nitro
blackish wet
soil

i am liking to work
with the life
i have
left

with what i have left of life
not like before
when

permanently pressed
into residual urban
cold cascade of landscapes

i was doomed
blunted
and dark and
that

was then