Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A lack of color

Date: Feb. 16
Details: Rest day

Date: Feb. 17
Mileage: 24
Time: 95 minutes
Weather: Steady rain, 38 degrees, southeast wind 15-25 mph
Details: Tempo ride; intensity 65-90 percent

So today I'm going to post about two things that I don't talk about very often on my blog - writing and discontent.

I feel like I have to preface this post because I'm not going to talk about bicycle riding, trekking or training today. It's actually still somewhat humorous to me that for the past four-plus years, I have been updating what is essentially a bicycle and photo blog. I found out recently that "Up in Alaska" was nominated for a "Best Sports Blog" Bloggie for the third time (I found out too late to solicit votes, but that's OK, because I didn't stand a chance of winning against Fat Cyclist and BikeSnobNYC anyway.) But, yeah, I have a sports blog. This idea still makes me giggle. And photography! I was essentially anti-photograph four and a half years ago, the kind of person who put her hand in front of her face when cameras came out and had only recently acquired a 2-megapixel Fuji digital camera because I was moving to Alaska and "you have to take photos of Alaska." No, if you asked me on Nov. 3, 2005, what I wanted to do with a personal blog, I would have said that I wanted to be a writer, without the drudgery of actually pursuing a career in writing.

Fast-forward four and a half years. Now I have a sports and photo blog with more than 1,000 posts and I spend some of my free time writing creative nonfiction that I develop in the form of books. Right now I'm in the process of finishing up the "2009 story." I've been polishing up the chapters I've written and for the most part I'm pretty happy with them - even the stuff I wrote while I had the flu, when I managed to evoke more than a few, ah, interesting metaphors (chalk that one up to Nyquil.) I really only have one more chapter to actually write, and I've been avoiding it. I pretty much know exactly what I want to do with this chapter; the reason I've avoided writing it is because I don't want this project to end. Oh sure, there's still tons of editing to do, and that horrible, laborious process of trying to get the thing published (I still haven't decided whether or not I'm going to try, to be honest.) But once Chapter 24 is actually written, that's it. The creative development that has provided me so much satisfaction will be done. There won't be any more opportunities to wholly immerse myself in words and images and shimmering pieces of the past until the present me, the one sprawled out on a bed in a dark little room in Fritz Cove, doesn't even exist anymore.

And this is the part where I want to talk about discontent. A vague restlessness has been needling at my senses ever since I stepped off the ferry on July 16 to rebuild my life in Juneau. This restlessness has been pronounced enough that I haven't tried very hard to actually rebuild my life here. I lived fully homeless until I finally rented my own room in mid-September (not an apartment, a room.) I've pushed away from or been unceremoniously pushed out of every new relationship I started. I won't even buy myself new hiking shoes or a trekking backpack - things I really, really need - because some mental block is preventing me from "accumulating stuff." And I have been surviving rather than thriving at work - mostly because I work at a newspaper in a bad economy; surviving is the most we can do. Meanwhile, I keep trying to do the things I love. I go to the mountains. I ride my bike. On rare nights off work, I go to parties and see movies. Life is still very good, very beautiful and very blessed. But something is missing. Something is definitely missing. I don't know what it is. If I was looking for an, ah, interesting metaphor, I would say that my life is like a half-eaten grapefruit. On the surface it's still whole and dimpled and delicious, but I've already mined the juicy center and what I have left on the inside is somewhat ... hollow.

I am happy when I'm in the mountains. I am happy when I ride my bicycle. I am happy in the company of friends. But if someone were to ask me that ever-vague question, "Are you happy?," my honest answer would be "no."

And I am blogging about this now just because it feels cathartic to admit it. I'm not necessarily looking for life coaching, although I always enjoy the random life-coach advice I receive (unsolicited comments are definitely the best part about keeping a blog, even if it can't be an "Award-Winning Blog" because it always gets stuck in the dang Sports Blog category.) But it is becoming obvious to me that I need to do something different. Make some kind of change. As they say, "If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always got."

I don't know what the solutions might be. They're as distant and daunting as the Great Divide, as close and uncomfortable as the prospect of finishing my book. My plan is to spend a lot of time in the mountains this weekend, thinking about it. I'm going to think about it.