Reports from the Medical Maze

This week finds us wading through the medical maze again. I drove my friend Kev to Dana Farber Cancer Institute for his bi-weekly slate of appointments. Kev’s been living with terminal colon cancer for six and a half years, which is a whole heckuva lot longer than anybody thought he would, back when he was diagnosed. But he has persisted, and on the drive out, we talked about that. How to persist.

We talked about therapists and social workers, and the gift of learning how to stay in the present moment, and plan for the future but keep it at bay. You can write your directives about hospice care, then turn away and go back to your life, knowing that you’ve done what you need to do, and when the time comes, the plan will be there. But for now, you’re waking up, taking your meds, and taking a walk on the bike path in the dappled sunshine. And it’s good to have your head in that, and in maybe getting a bagel. Kev made a short film about learning to view his cancer as a really obnoxious roommate. It’s dizzying to me, thinking about the journey it takes to get to that perspective.

Kev is on about his sixth experimental treatment. Ever since they ran out of approved chemotherapies to slow the progress of his cancer, he’s been raising his hand and saying yes to clinical trials. He’s done a couple “first in humans” ones, and put up with a range of gruesome and humiliating side effects which made for humorous anecdotes, shared in our backyard while we watched the kids play on the swings. Though he’s not the type to say it aloud, I think doing the trials is a way for him to find meaning in this suffering. Perhaps he can help the next person.

We talked about how when the diagnosis first comes in, there’s this huge wave of scenarios that wash over and through you; a tidal wave of panic and preparation. Kev recalled the day he went in to the hospital for his symptoms, calling a friend to say he wouldn’t be able to be the videographer at her conference the next day . . . “because I was in the hospital and they weren’t letting me out.” Amidst the thoughts of health care proxies and second-opinion surgeons and hemoglobin levels, the thing he could manage was to call Nicki and let her know about the video thing.

I remember packing Sophia’s lunch for preschool, not long after J was diagnosed, trying to keep my attention focused on peeling carrots and making a nice sandwich—all the while imagining having to make decisions about an unconscious husband in an imagined hospital bed. How far away is that hospital bed? How does one live, not knowing its proximity?

IMG_4997The truth is, Kev and I could’ve been run down by an unfriendly Mitsubishi box truck on the streets of Boston yesterday (and nearly were). The truth is, we don’t really get to know when or how death is coming for us, only that it will come. And sometimes, if you’re Kev, you know quite a bit about what it might look like when it does, since you have to reckon with it on a daily basis.

Kev lives with this knowledge, and whenever I spend time with him, he reminds me how to un-grit my teeth, let go of the illusion of control, and try to stay present. Be here now, kid, talking to your friend Kev, who you’ve known for 20 years, who knows you as well as pretty much anybody. Listen as he says again, “it is what it is. You can’t control it.”

We can’t completely control the progress of disease in our bodies or the trajectories of distracted drivers. But we can choose our perspective. Panic or acceptance. Fear or presence. Usually, traveling the road between them. Hopefully, with a friend.

Home Grown

Today will forever be known as the Great Carrot Harvest of 2015.

We tried to grow carrots last year, but either they just didn’t take, or everybody was waaaay too impatient. There was also the fact that Stella was two and liked to pull out the plants, pet them lovingly, and then smush them back in to the ground. Her favorite part of planting the garden is tucking the seeds in gently under a blanket of softly patted dirt. She must’ve figured a little extra TLC couldn’t hurt. Also, FULL DISCLOSURE, I did not remember to water the garden practically at all, and everything got kind of spindly and desperate looking.

But not this time! This time we dug deeply, watered well, waited and waited and waited . . . this was the hardest part. Only a few slim, inedible slips of carrot were sacrificed to their curiosity along the way, and it wasn’t hard to chalk up those brief seedling lives to science. After awhile we actually got used to summer, to running outside without jackets on, the porch door banging behind us. The tomatoes sprawled out everywhere and we forgot about the carrots. Now there’s a tang in the air and the tomatoes are looking hung over in their little tomato-cage drunk tanks. And somewhere between racing the dog around the yard and rejoicing over her sight-reading victory at the piano (I tell you, it’s been a big day), Sophia remembered about the carrots. Could we pick them?

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Yes. Yes we could.

And we got Stella in on the action too, running them into the house and piling them up, then scrubbing them endlessly and serving them up with dinner.

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They’re not beautiful specimens (the carrots, I mean), and they taste a little green–I know, we should’ve left them in longer for the cold weather to sweeten them! We just couldn’t wait any more!–but they’re food that the girls have had charge of from seed to table.

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I’d like to say they tore into them like they do the occasional box of sweet peanut butter cereal. Actually their enthusiasm waned after eating a couple stubby ones.They moved on to asking if they could put more butter on their bread after they’d licked off the first bit. But they were proud, piling them into bowls on the table and gracing them with a label just as homegrown as their veggies.

There are a lot of days the Tyranny of Dinner gets me down, and I wonder why I don’t just give up and sling box mac into us even more often than I do. Why plant the garden, haul the farmshare, hand over the salad spinner to the little one when dinner is already late, bite my lip with impatience while a small hand painstakingly measures a cup of flour. But I do these things to share that flicker of real joy I get from feeding our friends and family. So so so many days we don’t get there, and I don’t see the payoff. Today it was there, like a lost sock restored.

Tomorrow they’ll probably go back to protesting the “green floaty thingies” in their soup, and I’ll either practically tip over, wan with ennui, or slink to the kitchen in a fit of dish-clearing pique.

But not today.

Diagnosis: Seasonal-Affective Lyric

Tristimania by Mary Ruefle

(previously published in The Common Review, Spring 2005, appearing here briefly as a sample clip)

Readers curious about but estranged from contemporary poetry, who may be looking for a rewarding and fabular inroad, have plenty to choose from in a season of extraordinary vitality in American poetry, but where to begin? Fans of the chiaroscuro corners and wry humor of American and Eastern European lyric (including the likes of Charles Simic and Dean Young), and also those who enjoy the bracing New England weather of Emily Dickinson’s mind, can do no better than to spend some time with Mary Ruefle’s latest offering, Tristimania. Appreciable for their amazing technical grace and formal inquisitiveness, the poems also reward and startle with their intimacy, clarity, and striking imagery. Ruefle’s new poems are full of fireworks on the edge of American lyric, but they are still always communicative and generous toward the reader.

If Mary Ruefle’s imagination were diagnosed, it might be said to have tristimania. While the word is an arcane Victorian term for what we now call hypochondria, for Ruefle it also works from the root, to denote an unruly passion for sadness. But hypochondria connotes an overactive imagination, one that fools itself into its own pain and sadness, one that is not to be relied upon, as it insists on intruding into the world and making things happen. Those in charge of defining physical reality frown and shake their heads, and when the patient is nearly consumed by her own visions, the verdict comes with pity but little sympathy—after all, she brought it on herself.

These poems take the stock figures of the hysterical woman and the suffering artistic genius to task in ways we haven’t seen before. Ruefle’s work, for all its intensity, doesn’t use autobiography in any confessional sense. Rather, the poems embrace the possibility that the doctors and diagnosticians, the world’s enforcers, are limited in their vision. Ruefle rejects the idea that her vulnerability, her “over-reaction” to the world, is an unacceptable way to live, and she creates a convincing lyric argument for her condition. It turns out that being continuously overwhelmed by the world is a valid and human way to be, despite what the doctors say. If the psychoanalysts see “ordinary unhappiness” as the goal we must strive to achieve, Ruefle tosses that notion out in favor of flooded sensation and vibrant authenticity.

“Concerning Essential Existence” begins with a horse carefully mounting a mare, then becoming distracted from his task by the sudden clarity of his surroundings. The poem ends, “Nothing is forgot by lovers / except who they are.” A similar feeling marks the opening of the poem, “Why I am Not a Good Kisser”:

Because I open my mouth too wide
Trying to take in the curtains behind us
And everything outside the window

Ruefle seems permanently distracted by the wholeness of things. The lovers in these poems cannot respond to their mates as they’re supposed to. Their passion makes them hyperaware of beauty in the most surprising places, and their longing is to “take in” “everything.”

In some poems there’s the strong sense of an authority looking over her shoulder disapprovingly (though sometimes the authority is an aspect of herself), as in “By the Way”:

What did the person who was holding your head under water say?
The person who was holding my head under water said
Do you send Christmas cards?
I am going to teach you a lesson.
I want to stop now.
By the way, I love you.

The poems have the confidence, the surety of fabulously detailed dreams, yet they’re never dreamy. They accomplish in their best moments what poets like Wallace Stevens and James Tate can do—they let us see another world, right inside of this one. Ruefle pushes metaphor beyond allegorical thinking and straight to resonating lyric implications:

My soul is a dog
I know because I can see it barking

Barking & barking
Though its vocal chords have been removed

It was in the missile of the night         (“Altogether More Serene”)

The consequence of the strangulation in this poem is that “ever after” the soul is impoverished, since “It can only make pure, permanent / And empty sense.” Ruefle begins to convince us that the doctors are not seeing the whole world, full as it is of the unsayable, the unreachable. In search of wholeness, she must come to terms with the finite and fragmentary nature of the world; in this pursuit, she questions logic’s stranglehold on thought, and forges her own argument.

The voice of the collection has a burning quality which seems to consume as it invents, restlessly pushing forward to its next creation, its next assertion:

I am the queen of mosquitoes.
I am the queen of raw milk
and the stems of glasses.
I am the queen of batik
and new pine needles growing
out of the old. The queen of
phone cords and the roots of
river names . . .                                   (“Female Ruin”)

A symptom of tristimania, as it’s fleshed out in Ruefle’s book, is an anxious feeling that one is indeed broken, not quite right, does not belong in the world. And this separation from the world creates intense longing. Yet waiting in the wings of that anxiety, there is another: that one may be in danger of being lost to the world, which besets one on all sides. “The Great Loneliness” begins:

By March the hay bales were ripped open
exposed in the fields
like bloated gray mice
who died in December.
I came upon them at dusk
and their attar lifted my spine
until I felt like turning over an old leaf.
So I walked on, a walking pitchfork.

In just these first eight lines, Ruefle moves from a moody objective correlative which carefully refuses to correlate completely; to a religiously toned, heightened statement; to a line which deprecates that high tone with a cliche and almost jokey meter, which then further laughs at itself by taking the cliche at its word and extending the metaphor to almost surreal sublimity: “a walking pitchfork.”

With all of this bold invention, Ruefle is still able to create a winning intimacy that calms the sometimes frantic invention of the poems and pulls the reader into shared contemplative space. After the mania, a solitary, sometimes exhausted voice reaches us. Here is “Minor Ninth Chord” in its entirety:

Everything has an almost brownish clarity.

The loneliness of remote regions has a special tone,
such that one believes one ought to understand
and even see this special thing that slips away from thought.

It is as if the woman has just now
forever shed a painful conflict. It is a very
painful thing, having to part company
with what torments you.

And how mute the world is!

Paradoxically, the world is either “mute,” having jilted its would-be lover to make it through the long night alone, or the world is pushing almost blindingly in on a speaker who is painfully removed from it, unable to bear its brilliance or its weight. The latter case becomes clear in “Magnificat,” where the speaker roams an intensely vivid world, looking for her place in it, but “nowhere could I / so I kept until I could no more straight / then bent said I am down to make room for the more.” To make room for the more is an astonishing gesture of self-effacement, and lyrically delineates the impossible quest to burn without being consumed.

While navigating again and again the piercing sense of human estrangement, of longing alternately to be filled and to be emptied, the poems accomplish their movement with great variety in tone, form and stance. Tristimania is an accomplished work not only for its technical swerves and blindingly good writing, but perhaps even more for its brave, stark veracity. Ruefle confronts the poetic “illness” of tristimania and the accompanying pain by taking a rebellious joy in language. It turns out the doctors don’t know what they’re missing. In Tristimania, Ruefle wears her self-diagnosis as a badge of pride and of difference.

Oatcakes

Beginnings are slippery things. We hold our just-born babies close to us, sniffing them (I wanted to lick mine, like a mama lion). We gaze deeply into their dark puffy newborn eyes, looking for clues about the person they will become. As I write this, I have no idea how this blog may propel and companion my thinking, but hope is always a good reason to begin.

I have to start with oatcakes for a few reasons: First, my eldest daughter Sophia (she’s 7) and I have made them together so many times, I’m no longer permitted to make them without her assistance. She loves to cook with me, and I’m always looking for recipes where she can have a role. It’s a great bonding time for us, and a huge source of pride for her to eat, and give to others, food that she has made. She never gets tired of it. Oatcakes, she says, are “our specialty.” And they are.

Oatcakes also make me think of Boston, and chemo. We put this recipe into especially heavy rotation when my husband J was making his daily journey to Boston for radiation treatments, and simultaneously taking chemo pills. The schedule for his meds meant there was a very small window in which he could—and definitely needed to—eat before being strapped into the amazing contraption which would shoot protons at his brain, hopefully eradicating any rogue tumor cells that his amazing surgeon had not been able to excise. These nubby, yummy oatcakes fit the bill, completely portable, delicious enough to tempt even a chemo-wobbly stomach, full of healthy sustaining goodness–with plenty of sweet stuff. You know, for luck.

We are happily on the other side of those treatment days, and hope to be for good. Every six months we cross our fingers and receive the “all clear” again from J’s doctors, and let out a breath we didn’t know we were holding, and plunge back into daily life, which now includes another daughter, Stella, born just before J finished his chemo regimen. I’m hoping that another thing you’ll find here is honest coping, celebrating, and meeting the day’s uncertainties in good company.

We’re on equal footing here, my friends. None of us knows what lies ahead, but we do know we need each other on this journey, and we know that no matter what the day brings, we still gotta eat.

IMG_0350Make yourself some of these fantastic oatcakes, and you will always have breakfast in your hand. Freeze them, individually wrapped in plastic, and throw them in your bag on a rushed morning. You can hand them to carseated people, though maybe not while you are also searching for the requested Mister G CD at the morning’s first stoplight. I guarantee this will make you feel like one of those always-lipglossed supermoms. Nevermind the spit-up on your yoga pants! The false glow of perfection can be yours for just one morning! Then bask in a heroic aura when you give these by the dozen to a new mom who needs dense one-handed food (the oats are good for her milk supply!). Although I confess, they are hard to part with, even when you’ve made a double batch.

Sophia loves to mix the dry ingredients (when she was a little younger, she loved to luxuriate in the dry ingredients all the way up to her elbows) while I melt the butter and sugar portion of things together and toast the nuts. We always make a double batch, since they freeze so well and disappear so fast. Use a large ice-cream scoop, the kind you squeeze to make the little sweeping thing cross the scoop—it kicks the sticky dough out into a beautiful round lump. If you run out of room in your muffin tins, you can quite successfully deposit your scoops right on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet; just be extra vigilant so they don’t burn on the bottom.


Oatcakes

adapted from Heidi Swanson, from her book Super Natural Every Day

Makes about 15 oatcakes

I reduce the amount of maple syrup called for, mainly just to economize, but I don’t miss the extra sweetness. These are a bit expensive to make, but you can substitute what you have hanging around (see variations below), and I often buy just the amount of fixins I need from the bulk bins at the co-op.

3 cups rolled oats

2 cups flour (I prefer whole wheat here, Heidi recommends spelt, but even plain old white flour works in a pinch)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/3 cup flax seeds (I like the golden ones)

3/4 cup walnuts, toasted in a dry pan and chopped

1 cup dried cherries, chopped

1/3 cup extra virgin coconut oil

1/3 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup maple syrup (Heidi uses 3/4 cup)

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat your oven to 350 (325 if you are using baking sheets instead of muffin tins), and spray or butter a muffin tin.

Combine the oats, flour, baking powder, salt, flax seeds, walnuts, and dried cherries in a very large bowl—a great job for small hands.

Meanwhile, melt the coconut oil and butter in a saucepan with the maple syrup and sugar, whisking occasionally, until melted. Pour the hot mess over the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Add the eggs and mix through—the whole thing will be very sticky and heavy. Pack firmly into ice cream scoops (or olive-oil your hands and make firm balls), and deposit each in a muffin spot. Bake approximately 25 minutes.

Cool in the pan on a rack about 30 minutes, then use a paring knife to help you remove them from the pans (they come out really nicely!) and dig in. Cool leftovers completely and store, individually wrapped in plastic, on the counter for up to a week, or freeze for about six weeks.

VARIATIONS:

Instead of using flax seeds, walnuts, and dried cherries, try:

toasted almonds and coconut chips, and chopped dried apricots, or

toasted pecans and dried cranberries or raisins, or

toasted pepitas, brazil nuts, and coconut

These are flexible enough to accommodate most granola-inspired variations. Just make sure your mixture is sticky, without any dry patches, and they’ll turn out great. If you need to add a drizzle of maple syrup or an extra egg to make it work, go for it.

The Plan

The plan keeps coming up again

And the plan means nothing stays the same

But the plan won’t accomplish anything

If it’s not implemented

– Built to Spill, “The Plan”

Coming downhill from the park, my dog Rosie pulling me along at a fair sprint, Doug Martsch’s lyrics and raw, wry guitars blasted in and said exactly what my anxious, thumping heart has been saying these past several weeks. Sure, you have a plan! You’re going to write like you’ve always wanted to write! Your whole career has been building connections and editing other people’s writing, but ever since you were a little kid sitting on phone books in typing class (true story), you’ve wanted to Be A Writer. And lo and behold—the plan, laid out in project management systems, documented in Google spreadsheets, researched, budgeted. Still the heart comes in with its simple terror:

But the plan won’t accomplish anything

If it’s not implemented

My particular brand of anxiety has always manifested itself as paralysis. If you don’t know what to do, do something, and maybe you can work your way around to confronting the work you’re scared of.

I just wrote that, and then sat perfectly still. Terrified.

If I’ve been working toward this my whole life, why does it feel like I’m starting over? I’ve been working remotely for almost a decade now, and I know how to motivate myself to meet other people’s deadlines. How about my own? This struggle, I find, is common to the caregiver set, used to putting others’ needs ahead of her own to such an extent that personal goals are relegated to well-meaning list-making at the end of the day, tapping out resolutions in Evernote between sips of box wine. Geez, even the pathetic vision that presents is a good enough reason to get going and make some things happen.

There. I said so. It’s good to get that out in the open. Now I’m going to open the draft of that essay that’s dogged me all week. Pinky swear.

Hot Days, Cold Noodles

I adore roasted vegetables. My kids like them raw. I love a good one-dish meal and have been known to deposit my eggs over medium directly atop an order of biscuits and gravy just to cut to the yolky chase. My girls? They like things separated out so they can regard each morsel with proper suspicion. More control that way. (Where did they get this control thing? Oh.) It’s August, which means they want to keep slacklining and pouring endless tea parties in the backyard until the moment hunger pangs morph them into hangry zombies and hurl them toward me. By which time the humidity has likely made me drippy and grumpy as well. But this dish—thank heaven!—works for us.

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As an experiment, I made sure to show it to the girls in this form, before we tossed everything together. The crisp and colorful (and easily separated) ingredients overcame their predilection for separateness, and besides, I brought out their chopsticks, so they can still ferret out one favorite bite at a time. And slurp up the tiny rice vermicelli noodles. Permission to slurp! Always a winner.

I love the flexibility, too–almost anything from the week’s farmshare can make its way into this Vietnamese-inspired cold noodle salad, dressed with herbs from the kitchen garden and yesterday’s leftover grilled chicken.


Summer Salad with Rice Vermicelli

Adapted from this recipe for Bun Chay at The Kitchn

8 ounces rice vermicelli

1/4 cup fresh lime juice (2 limes)

1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce

2 cloves minced garlic

2 T sugar

1/4 cup water

1 T toasted sesame oil (optional)

1 bunch scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced (3/4 cup)

6 cups chopped greens and julienned vegetables: romaine, carrots, cucumbers, daikon or other radishes, hakurei turnips, sugar snap peas, zucchini, celery. Choose a variety of whatever you have on hand, looking for contrasts in texture and flavor.

2-3 cups cooked chicken, shredded or sliced into strips, OR

1 pound extra firm tofu

1 to 1 1/2 cups fresh herbs: mint, basil, cilantro, torn and/or chopped

1/2 cup salted peanuts, chopped

Cook noodles according to package directions (boil 3-5 minutes) and cool thoroughly under running water. Drain well and fluff with tongs to separate.Transfer to a large serving bowl. Whisk lime juice, tamari, garlic, sugar, water, and sesame oil (if using) together and pour over noodles, tossing to combine. Mix in the scallions.

If using tofu, slice into bite-sized strips and press with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Fry in 1/4 cup canola oil in a skillet until golden. Drain on paper towels. I like to drizzle these with a little soy sauce or Memmi.

Pile greens, vegetables, herbs, tofu and/or chicken, and peanuts atop dressed noodles. Toss before serving, with sriracha or gojuchang on the side.

Serves 4-6.

Learning to Run

I used to say that I only ran if someone was chasing me. One of my fiercest childhood friendships was cemented on the track in junior high gym class; Amy hated the forced march around the track as much I did, so we joined forces to create an imaginary world in which I was Midnight and she was Blade. We needed to escape the reality of running so badly we created new gang-banger identities. So, yeah, you wouldn’t call me a runner.

But when I saw my 40th birthday looming on the horizon, I started to look around for a structured way to meet some kind of fitness goal—any kind of fitness goal, since I was carrying 30 pounds of extra weight (still workin’ on that) and I had never really been able to jog a mile. In my 20s I smoked, drank beer, ate junk, and seemed to bounce just fine; in my 30s I quit most of that to have babies (thank you babies!), learned to eat veggies from the farmshare, and still put on a middle (thank you babies!). The 40s were obviously going to require (gulp) exercise. And I knew that for me to exercise, there had to be both structure and fun involved. In January I bought a jog bra and downloaded a Couch to 5K app.

This is the part where I sing the praises of the Y, the blessed YMCA where my husband exercises regularly, my kids swim and bound around the gymnastics apparatus, and I can tuck them happily into Child Watch while I work out (or, yes, sometimes whip out my laptop in the hallway and meet a deadline). That, my friends, is the only way a freelancing mom like me—who’s trying to keep her childcare bill down to just three days a week—can squeeze in exercise without sacrificing precious sleep time on either end of her day. Glorious Child Watch. I planned out three workouts a week.

How does one hurdle past excuses? I don’t know how to work the treadmill and I’ll look like an idiot. I don’t have the right socks. I might hurt myself. My earbuds will fall out. I’ve always hated it. Somewhere in the middle of a grueling New England February, I needed a change so badly I finally climbed up on the treadmill and opened the app.

And proudly walked. That’s how it works. Walk five minutes. Jog one minute. You can do that, although the first time it was kinda long, that minute. Walk five more minutes, then jog a minute again. Keep doing that until you’ve logged 30 minutes. Next week you’ll be jogging two and three minutes at a time. This tortoise approach is not for everyone, but I needed the walk time to figure out how to run. What’s that button? Hallelujah! It’s a fan!. That gal really looks like a runner, what is she doing with her arms? Whoa whoa whoa that’s the incline button. Duly noted. Oh hey, I can listen to my workout playlist and still hear the app tell me when to switch to running. OH. (More about that later.)

Life is full of detours, but if I think of them as interruptions instead of derailments, they’re easier to take. It’s August. I should totally be running a 5K by now, according to my beloved app. But yes, there were weeks I didn’t run at all, and few nasty spring viruses that interfered, and the end of the school year, and . . . I would just repeat the last week of workouts and build back up again. For my birthday in June, I bought myself new running shoes.

And then I got stuck. I was running 10 and 12 minute intervals, and my workouts were taking me over about 2.5 miles. Getting close to the 3.1 miles of a 5K race. But I was conserving energy and jogging slowly to keep going over those longer stretches, and it suddenly wasn’t fun. And I knew that, for me, unfun would prove deadly to my exercise efforts. Somewhere in there, I had discovered the runner’s high was real—I had grown to love that feeling of dialing up the speed on the treadmill when it was time to run, and cranking it up higher during the really rocking parts of my favorite songs. I could count on the endorphins to light me up. You know what’s more fun than jogging? Running fast. How did I forget something I knew when I was five?

I put away the app and starting running to my playlist. When the music says walk, I walk. When it picks up, I jog, and when it blasts, I sprint, stretching out for as long as I can go. I’m happy to report that the joy is restored to me; in the mirror across from the treadmills I caught myself grinning.

Here’s today’s fun run:

29 minutes, 2.25 miles (for me):

Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Part 1 – Flaming Lips (4:47 – brisk walk)

Queen Bitch – David Bowie (3:18 – take it up a notch)

Everyone Chooses Sides – The Wrens (4:40 – this one’s got some great sprints)

Heavy Metal Drummer – Wilco (3:09 – loose and free)

Once in a Lifetime – Talking Heads (4:19 – jog or walk)

When You’re Falling (Remix) – Afro Celt Sound System (4:38 – Go! Push through!)

The Plan – Built to Spill (3:29 – cool down)

Here’s tomorrow’s:

30.5 mins – how far this time?

Muzzle of Bees – Wilco (4:56 – warm up, though that guitar solo might pump you up)

I Have Patience – Mark Mulcahy (5:05 – this one gets me started really–I think it’s the lyrics! I tend to have a little sprint at the end)

Lady Marmalade – Patti LaBelle (3:55 – chug along there, sexy)

Boots and Pants – Spouse (4:16 – flat out)

Crazy – Gnarls Barkley (2:58 – not rocket science)

Stand – Sly and the Family Stone (3:07 – great for interval sprints)

Pride (In the Name of Love) – U2 (3:50 – sprint the choruses)

Caribou – Pixies (3:15 – cool down)

New goal: 5K in December, with a smile on my face. If you exercise, how do you do motivate? If you have a playlist, what’s on it?