Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Locking myself inside

I have really been trying to buckle down and work. And no, that work hasn’t involved too many job applications … yet. Because what I really want to do first, why I’m here, open-ended in Anchorage, is to try to sell my book. And write a few articles. And maybe finally buy a Mac and software and see if I can pick up freelance graphics jobs, like posters and brochures. That kind of thing. It’s so hard to be self-motivated, though. So hard. And Anchorage has to be one of the most distracting places I could possibly be right now. There are bikeable roads going everywhere, big mountains and ridges to explore, free time to travel to farther corners of Alaska, and pretty soon, the mountain bike trails are going to dry out and the sun is going to be up until midnight and, oh boy, I am in trouble.

At the same time, it can be emotionally difficult to deal with unstructured time. This is probably why unemployed people end up spending whole days plopped on their couches in front of the Food Network. There really is so much to do that they don’t even know what to do with themselves. I admit I often think about tucking my tail between my legs and slinking back to Juneau and the open arms of the Empire. I do miss my friends and co-workers, my familiar mountains and roads. I realize that as time passes, that potential warm welcome is going to grow more cold. At the same time, I know I should stick this out at least through the homesick phase, and maybe even the poverty phase. (Don’t worry, Mom, that’s not coming any time soon.) I am facing a new homeless phase here pretty soon, which reminds me - does anyone know of a small apartment for rent in Anchorage, cat-friendly, preferably cheap? My roommate is talking seriously of moving and I will need a new place to live soon. This reality is difficult, because I feel like I have been perpetually homeless for more than a year. At the same time, these are the decisions I made, and I made them purposely to avoid anchoring myself to any one place, so transience is what I must live with.

The playing is still going well, though. These photos are all from a “run” I did on Bird Ridge the other day. I am still toying with the idea of entering a few mountain races this summer. I did not get into Mount Marathon, which was not a huge surprise (payment at registration and a low-chance lottery. That race is such a racket.) But there are still others. One of them goes up Bird Ridge. I tackled the trail on Sunday afternoon, just to see how it felt to run up a mountain. I can’t remember the last thing I did that was so horrifically painful. First of all, I wore the absolute worst shoes (Montrail hiking boots are great for snow, which I thought the trail would be covered with, but horrible for hard, dry dirt, which was the actual condition of the trail.) I started up the steep slope at what felt like a mellow jog, but after 10 minutes I was doubled over gasping, clawing up rocks and urging myself not to slow down. After 20 minutes, I was only about a mile (and 1,400 vertical feet) into the 2.5-mile trail. My feet were wrapped in searing blisters, my lungs felt like they were being pinched with hundreds of tiny tweezers, and my legs and knees ached so badly that they shook. Mountain running? Seriously hard! I limped the rest of the way up to the 3,500-foot point on the ridge, just so I wouldn’t feel so bad about myself. But I was beat. I walked slowly and took a lot of breaks. In the end, it would have been faster just to do the whole thing at my normal hiking pace rather than try to “run” the first mile. But I guess that’s what training is for. Will I train to run mountains? I don’t know. It’s nothing like training to ride a bike all day. It hurts more. A lot more.

But I guess that’s half the fun.