Sunday, April 22, 2007

Weekend in the city

Flying is a strange experience. It's similar to an endurance event in a lot of ways. I usually spend my day wrapped in varying levels of anxiety, subsisting on Power Bars and Advil and copious amounts of caffeine. And just when I'm locked in the most uncomfortable position, head spinning as cramps crawl up my legs, I look out the window and see views like this - a crisp moment of clarity that convinces me it's time to just quit my job and toss my Advil and devote my life to mountaineering.

Of course, it's too easy to feel this way from the seat of a plane, even cramping and a little bit airsick, I'm still in a bubble of relative safety, warm and dry. This is similar to the work conference I attended this weekend, in a lot of ways. It was the Alaska Press Club conference, or "J-Week (J for journalism)" to the wide-eyed reporters who attend. It's a rallying cry for those of us who are trying to convince ourselves the newspaper industry isn't dying. We talk about ethics and community responsibility. We give ourselves awards and cheer on the work we do for the greater good. It's easy for us to believe in the comfort and safety of our conference group, and it feels great to do so, but the knowledge feels different when I step out onto the terrifyingly unnavigable one-way streets of life ... or downtown Anchorage.

Because I live in a small town on the outskirts of Alaska, I always have this sense of the smallness of civilization versus the hugeness of wilderness. But in Anchorage, a small city by most standards, the opposite feels true - civilization is bearing down and the wilderness is slipping further away. I had a whirlwind weekend trying to connect with everyone I know in the city. It seemed like one second I was meeting old names but new faces at a slide show in the Mat-Su Valley and the next I was at a random Anchorage watering hole, lapping up the gossip of a place I no longer live with a boss I no longer work for. I slept about four hours total each night and didn't work out for three days. That's right. Three days rest. By day three, I don't know that my gimp knee ever felt worse.

I'm not quite sure what to think about that. I have this theory about sitting in chairs and cars, and the way that can keep my knee at bad angles, generating fluids and other such waste products that just sit there, festering and swelling. But I don't think that theory has any medical backing. I finally got out for a hike this morning with two hardcore adventure-race types/Ultrasport veteran cyclists who are coincidentally also dealing with knee problems right now. (I won't mention names, because there seemed to be some concern about Internet anonymity :-) We went on a "gimp hike" somewhere in the front range. I didn't pack any clothing for outdoor activity, so when I took this picture, it was about 40 degrees with 30 mph-wind gusts, and all I was wearing was a single layer with a cotton hoodie pulled over my ears. I didn't even have gloves. It felt great. Like I was draining out all of the gunk - not that that's a real treatment ... and it probably did help that I was coming out of three days of terrible nutrition, sloth and sleeplessness that probably needed its own share of draining.

Now I'm back. It feels like a crazy long time lapse, when in fact it's only been a few days. I was surprised to come home and see some snow on the ground still. It seems like weeks should have passed. But I think all I need is some sleep and a good long day in grayness to snap me back to reality.

17 comments:

  1. Welcome back! I have some of the same theories about my knee. I know that after car rides longer than an hour I find my knee has locked up and bending it can be quite painful.

    Hope to hear that you're feeling better this week.

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  3. 40 degrees, 30 mph-wind and with only a cotton hoody; here in Califorina we call that pure madness. :o)

    your knee sounds horrible, I hope it heels soon so you can get some of that mountaineering started; the only related injuries i am aware of are knee problems and such from running cross country. And all my coach/my dad would ever have us do is stand in trash cans full of ice for 10 minutes and do a slow jog the next day.

    While this may be of little use to you, It might help mallie when that knee starts acting up.

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  4. I understand your feelings about Anchorage having grown up here. It has lost a lot of its frontier nature, but you can still find a good hiking within minute of your house.

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  5. stunning photography...

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  6. Amazing site and beautiful pictures.

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  7. Thanks for you work, is famtastic, have a good day

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  8. Hi Jill, love your site. I hope your knee recovers soon. I love your photos and have been using a different one each week for my desktop background. Take care.

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  9. Jill - FYI your blog has been picked out by google's "blogs of note." I found this on my blogger dashboard.

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  10. Thirty years ago while serving in the US Coast Guard, I spent a lot of time sailing in Southeast Alaska and the Alleutian Islands.

    Your photos bring back a lot of wonderful memories.

    Thank you!

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  11. What a beautiful state you have. For it is the one state in which The Baron has not set foot in. Rest assured, that will be remedied before the summer is over.

    The Baron says great pics!

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  12. Wow! What a lovely website!! Makes me want to visit Alaska:)

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  13. Love the pictures. Thanks for sharing them, Jill.

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  14. Reallyyyyyyyyy gr8 pictures.....

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  15. What wonderful pictures! I just love the snow - considering the closest I get to it here in sunny Queensland (Australia) is when I open the freezer door!! Keep posting those lovely photos, and I hope your knee recovers soon.

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