I took this photo at the Seattle Marathon over a week ago. Your first instinct — “Marathon? Perhaps she meant to say ‘casserole-eating contest’?” — is entirely correct. Marathons are to Marika as thought is to Sarah Palin: painful, confusing, and alien. Someone asked me what my price would be to run a marathon, and in the end, it was simple. I wanted three things:
1. To rule the country of my choosing as a benevolent dictator.
2. To fund my own space program and become a cosmonaut.
3. To look like Joan Holloway from Mad Men at whim.
(Runner-up: Own a mythical creature.)
To recap: I will run a marathon when I’m a red-haired, space-exploring, Qaddafi-like sexpot who domesticates krakens and minotaurs. Pretty sure that translates to “never ever ever.”
In any case, my 64-year old bad ass of a mom ran the half-marathon, as she does every year, and we met her at the finish line. There were runners everywhere, wrapped up like shiny human satellites, smiling and shivering in their spacey Heatsheets. We walked with my parents to the recovery area (see: above), something I’d envisioned as a giant hall with cots where runners went to die in public. Instead, it was an unsurprising giant hall-slash-corporate mini-mall.
Jolly jazzy-jazz blared forth from the speakers, filling the room with jarring holiday merriment; the music got me in a seasonal mood, but hundreds of sweaty, spandex-clad people made it seem like Christmas in July. We wandered around as booths were quickly set up; healthy corporate America had come a-swaggin’. A tent city of dairy queens handed out chocolate milk, while volunteers handed out bananas next to them. Fruit cups were thrust into our path, as were power bars and water bottles. I walked past a booth for sampling liquid flavored energy — pomegranate! lavender! lime! — and thought, ‘All this swag for wrecking the human knees? How awfully sweet!’
From there we headed to Belltown, in the direction of Etta’s Seafood, wherein my brother works his culinary magic. With time to kill before the reservation, we walked through Pike Place Market; however, I never last long with a Sur la Table across the street, so the Esq and I booked it in that direction. A quick jaunt through the store turned me into Homer Simpson — popover paaaaaans, drooooooool — and I added a few things to my Christmas list. Our family brunch afterward was delicious; I had Dungeoness Crab Eggs Benedict, which rocked my fuzzy socks off.
I came home and wondered what it would take for me to do the half-marathon. This time, my list of three looked different:
1. Outfit the mouth with a junk food bouncer. Pay holiday overtime after 7pm.
2. Increase heart rate through movement, and not just zombie films. In other words, exercise.
3. Buy action-specific sneakers. Use them for training and/or fleeing during zombie apocalypse.
(Runner up: Get support.)
I’m not committing to anything; there are some things I need to research before declaring I’m fucking insane. I’m sorely out of shape, and know that reversing the flow of carb overload is a slow and deliberate process. But I know I need a change, and also a goal. This could be the goal I’ve been cravoiding! That’s craving and avoiding, for those of you new to word hybridization.
Or maybe there’s not enough oxygen getting to my brain and I’m having some kind of stroke. That actually makes more sense.
It seems my life, up to this point, has been seasoned with the frustrating flavor of cliches like ‘Who am I?’ and ‘Why me?’ Cop-out questions with no real answers were something I brought out on special occasions, when accountability wasn’t an appealing enough option. (It never really is.)
Then I dove into a question that felt smarter somehow, by instead wondering, ‘Why am I?’ Getting to the source of why I was consistently, regrettably, hideously myself felt like something a grown-up might do, but it only resembled self-assessment. So I figured out what to blame — drugs, men, money, luck, the mean skinny girls in high school — and surprisingly, nothing changed. Finger-pointing does nothing except give the second digits a job.
Recently, I’ve been pondering other questions, like where do questions come from? Why are they important? How do I ask the right ones? When will the answers do something other than keep me confused while I stall for more time?
I’ve always felt displaced on this particular planet, like an amnesiac extra terrestrial awaiting further orders. Even when I’m doing life The Right Way — paying taxes, eating right, getting sleep, contributing to society, keeping my nose drug-free and my shitty tweets clean — I still feel like I’m doing it Your Right Way. Many of us have been conditioned and encouraged (or maybe programmed and pushed) to seek a 1950’s American dream: school, job, marriage, house, kids, retirement, death — plus a vague and boring afterlife, somewhere in the sky.
I never felt affected by this mainstream pressure until I found out I was pregnant at 21. Older women would look at my left ring finger for that sparkly sign of legitimacy, and when they saw I was woefully (immorally!) alone, the tone went downhill fast. I started lying about being married at the start of my second trimester; it was easier to be a liar than to be doing it wrong.
I died as a mineral and became a plant,
I died as plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was Man.
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?
A member of our extended family left this world yesterday on a mule-shaped rocket made of caffeinated stars. Being sound of mind and pure of soul, it was something he chose to do. Thanks again, Oregon, for being lawfully awesome.
Cancer is a ninja, and then a wrecking ball. It creeps into your life until you look around and realize: it’s everywhere, every day, all the fucking time. My Facebook and Twitter feeds are rife with cancer journeys, cancer awareness, necessary fundraising, emotional updates, battles won and battles lost. As I get older, I know more and more people affected by cancer — or hear about it, after the fact, like “Oh, you didn’t know?” — which feels like holding on to an 80-pound fish during a log-rolling contest on an ocean made of chainsaws.
Can I just state the very-fucking-obvious? I don’t like cancer. No one does. It’s the friend who drinks all your booze at a party and then passes out naked on the kitchen table. I mean, yeah sure, I’ve done that — but it’s not like I woke up the next day, tied you to a stake, and lit you on fire to slowly watch you burn. Cancer does all that and then leaves you with the check. It’s inconsiderate, unfeeling, unstable, un-medicated. It exists for itself alone, and grows in humans like parasitic mistletoe on parade. I hate cancer with every molecule that exists in the universe.
(The reality is: it exists. And it’s helped people in other ways, in the Learning About Oneself and Getting The Most Out of Life departments. Still doesn’t mean I’m a fan.)
This assisted-suicide business is glaringly intense, but I support it. It’s an individual choice about managing pain and how you want to experience the last moments of your life. A good man — a brilliant doctor, dad, husband, human — made the best choice for himself yesterday. No more unmanageable pain, no drawn-out terror for the entire family. I know that nothing can prepare you for the reality of death, the finality of that moment, but surely there is gratitude and relief at having sweet autonomy? To see a fork in the road, instead of one long, unending path? This was a celebration of someone controlling their own destiny, eyes wide open. To walk with open arms towards death, to welcome it in the presence of family; it’s fucking courageous. It’s eye-opening and confusing and crazy and realistic. It’s a lot of things.
In the end, of course I made it about me. What if this happened to my dad? My mom? What about my siblings, or my boyfriend? What if I was faced with this kind of decision? Who would take care of our stable of unicorns?! DEAR GOD, HOW COULD I EVER–
–it doesn’t matter. The mind is not on our side; it’s kind of a drama queen. What matters in life is now. So many things could happen in the future; to imagine each one of them, especially the worst, is to condemn myself to a lifetime of worry. I’ll cross those yellow-bricked bridges if I have to, and only when they appear.
Right now I just want to honor this family member. Joe’s life was extraordinary, in every sense of the word. He will always be remembered, celebrated, missed, and seen on YouTube.
Oh, my bloody stars. It’s been so long since I’ve blogged, I had to reset my password just to write this. Like a cheating spouse, I sulked and skulked my slimy way in, wondering what the point was to all these gotdamn shenanigans. I guess it was to purge before I burn it to the ground.
I don’t really know why I blog. I know why I write, in private and off-line [I have to or I will die; my withered soul demands it; I must, I must, I must] but blogging has changed, and I (Robot) with it.
My focus has changed — well, truthfully, I’ve changed. I’m happier, and moving towards something more professionally meaningful. I’m hacking away at the dead weight of toxic ideas, human lard, unhealthy people, and a lifetime of negativity. I still vow to out-snark you and drop f-bombs on your mom — but I’m less Snotty McSnotterson, if you get what I mean. I haven’t shed that persona altogether — no, not a chance — but I need to make room for new ones. Maybe even ones that serve the whole me and not just my angry face.
So I’m in the middle of re-branding. I know you’re thinking, “Re-branding? Why do you sound like a corporate penis machine that’s violating me in the eye socket?” First off, that’s what people like me and the guy from those Saw movies think of as “fun.” Second, I need help incorporating everything that’s important to me in a way that works for everyone. Luckily, I’ve got an awesome brand strategist (and former boss-turned-friend) who I worked for at Navigating Cancer, and she gets what I’m wanting to do: basically me times a billion, doing what I do best. You’ll just have to see how my definition of “best” will manifest itself.
What’s the theme? Everything awesome and nothing lame; a hamlet of that which I’m mental for mixed with guts, mirth, and sucrose in a rainbow plenisphere. What do I love about this new project? 1) It’s collaborative. 2) The possibilities are endless. 3) It comes with a new haircut and color.
While I was at Breitenbush in September, I asked Kali to transform my armor — the invisible cloak I use to deflect and hide myself in various ways (something we all do) — into a hug I give myself. Had I the power to turn back time, I might have rephrased my request to sound much, much cooler — but even Cher can’t turn back time, so I’m not really going to worry about it.
My new website is a big part of this cheesetastic hug I crave. In feeding you, the internet, I forget to feed myself. I don’t mean like my boyfriend, who literally forgets to eat while gaming (MADNESS) — I mean the internal wonky parts that make this brain car go… O Beating Heart, O Thunkin’ Mind, O Languorous Yellow-Bellied Liver! Finally, a project that celebrates you, me, and The American Way! (Just kidding. It only serves me.)
One thing I’m looking forward to is collaborating with my younger brother; he’s a fantastic chef who works for Tom Douglas. I’m excited to introduce him to the softer side of this series of interconnected tubes.
I’ve still got posts to write on this blog, which will happen over the next month or so. In January, my goal is to point you in a new direction — towards my freshly-birthed website, which is going to be fun, DAMN IT — and let the potato chips fall where they may. Hopefully in my mouth.
To all 14 of you reading (Hello, family!), it’s been a weird, wild ride. Thanks for being witness to my ever-present growing pains; I know it was painful for you, too. Snotty McSnotterson isn’t dead — though she took her last bow on Twitter last night — but she deserves an early retirement. Anger is tiring.
I’ve been having a love affair with books lately.
Not that I ever stopped loving them, but getting caught up in the 24/7 Tilt-A-Whirl of the internets will put that love of page and paper on the backburner indefinitely. I’d look at my books and think, ‘There’s not enough tiiiime!’ and then go sit in front of my computer for three mind-numbing hours. You know, watching YouTube videos. Squealing at zooborns. Reading nerd-related crap. Tweeting. Slagging off, basically.
My gateway back to books was The New Yorker. Yeah, I know, that’s not a book — but it’s not US Weekly, either. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve also bought some interesting books for my coffee table, since it was crying for new titles. Yes, my furniture emotes.
Here’s a few of my favorites:
The L.L. Bean Game & Fish Cookbook (Angus Cameron + Judith Jones)
Finally, a cookbook for all the big game I’ve got lying around. Remember that antelope I shot, or the bear I killed with my own bare hands? They’ll be marinated in no time! And who wouldn’t love Squirrel Cobbler, or Raccoon Pie? Without a doubt, this is the most resourceful cookbook I have ever read. The Esq likes it, too! “It’s pretty rad we have a cookbook with actual dolphin recipes in it,” said he. And sharks. And muskrats. And musk ox, woodchuck, caribou, beaver. I’m probably going to stick to the ‘fresh fish’ section.
The Superior Person’s Book of Words (Peter Bowler)
If you’re not sure what the words quim or zugzwang mean, Peter Bowler thinks you’re an Inferior Person. I don’t think you’re inferior; I just assume you’re not acquainted with female genitalia slang or combinatorial game theory. But guess who is? Peter Bowler. Superior!
The New Yorker Album of Art & Artists (The New Yorker)
This one has art in it. From The New Yorker.
Speaking of, I’ve read some of the most inspiring, insane, delicious, hysterical, informative stories in that magazine lately. And one isn’t easy to get through. You think it’s going to be fine, like a normal publication, with ads you ignore and articles you skip to get to the good stuff, i.e.; photos of what Team Edward ate for breakfast. Instead, I’ve been glued to every article whether the subject appealed or not; whatever the angle, it has always engaged. And now I have stacks and stacks of them — thanks to hoarding Arturo! — to throw onto my bed and swim around in, naked. (They’re the closest thing I have to cash.)
If you have any book recommendations — of the non-coffee table variety — leave a comment or shoot me an email. I’m also fixing to start a book club where I’m the scary dictator who makes you read and learn and eat cake, yay! If you’re far away but interested, I’m going to make it accessible online — though not the cake, sorry — so let me know if you’d like to be dictated to. Doesn’t that sound lovely?