Archive for July, 2013

Shortly after I managed to begin putting on distance in my running, I decided that I wanted to complete a route that would take me past each bridge in Portland. I mapped the total distance out at around 12 miles and realized, I wasn’t that far short of being able to do it. I came close to setting out more than once, but fate and bad weather stopped me. Once it got hot enough to justify trips to the Waterfall Paradise, I was more interested in spending my days there and I proceeded to push it to the back burner.

It isn’t lack of ambition that keeps me from completing exotic routes more often, so much as it is the multitude of considerations and constraints my chosen cardiovascular hobby imposes.


I am presented with several limitations running-wise, this is certainly the most pressing. It is aggravated with even moderate increases in heart rate and the medication that best controls this is both prohibitively expensive and causes me to lose my voice. I have learned to take steps which mitigate the worst of my day-to-day symptoms, but running puts a whole different kind of strain on my lungs.

Because of the way my lungs respond to exertion, running fast is more or less out of the question. It wasn’t until I trained myself to move in a slow steady lope that I was able to attain distances in excess of about a mile. Keeping my speed consistent and controlled is the only way I can manage a run of any meaningful length. This is complicated by the fact that even slight elevation changes are also problematic and will set off an attack. As such, any route with elevation change can only include an incline which is either very short or I must plan to take it at a walk.

Joint Problems

I’ve always been hyperflexible. Being bendy is fun for various reasons but also leaves me subject to the woes that accompany this trait (have you heard of anyone DISLOCATING THEIR PELVIS? Well, now you have). I have achy knees, wonky hips, and of late, a screwed up shoulder. These clicks and pains are mitigated, though not solved, by various voodoo taping techniques. But regardless of how much tape of any kind and color combination I may try, there are a finite number of times I can strike the earth with all my body weight and forward momentum before I can feel my joints grinding together to punish me for my hubris.

I have determined through experimentation and experience that this finite number is about 16,000. Once I exceed that, I am in pain; varying degrees – to be sure – depending on how long it has been since my last run, how much stretching I have done, and whether or not I was wise enough to take some ibuprofen beforehand, but pain that will limit my capacity to carry on regardless.

Delicate Flowerhood

I am very heat intolerant and become both nauseous and light-headed if I exert myself in temperatures exceeding about 70 degrees. This means running during the day in nice weather can present a blurk-inducing conflict of interest between enjoying pleasant outdoor weather and not being able to do so whilst I am seized by the overpowering need to vomit.

Thus, my ideal running conditions are:

  • Speed – Slow to Moderate
  • Terrain – Flat and Paved*
  • Temperature – between 45°-70°


This is not impossible to locate, but becomes incredibly boring after 60-70 repetitions. So, I push myself beyond the ideal, and I am usually glad I did.

I thought the day would stay cooler, and determined to fulfill my bridge run fantasy before fall set in. I had long since considered that starting at the St Johns bridge meant the run would be largely downhill to get to the Sellwood rather than running the opposite. The issue then became transportation. I knew I could park my car at Sellwood and either get a ride or take the bus to St. Johns, but because I am both a masochist and a moron, I instead told myself that riding my bicycle the 13 miles uphill would be a great way to be sure I was warmed up for the run back.


Bridge #1: The St. Johns

This is my favorite bridge in Portland. It is graceful, and lovely, both in setting and form. It also reminds me of Batman. Which is just awesome. At this point, I was feeling pretty good; flushed and warm, stretched out and eager to get running.

Bridge #2: The Freemont

I’ve always been fond of the urban-fantasy-curvyness of this freeway. The pillars on the east bound deck look like dominoes to me, and the arch is iconic and appealing. It is also my favorite stop on the bridge pedal.

Bridge #3: The Broadway

I remember when this bridge was brown. I think it looks handsomer, red. The Albers Mill at the west end of the bridge always captures my attention as I cross, because my paternal grandfather was the child model in the ad, back in the day. He was also featured in Modern Maturity in an article about the Mazamas because he was still climbing mountains in his 70’s. He was an inspiration, despite his weird chagrin over his given name being Marion. He liked to point out if John Wayne wasn’t man enough to carry it off, he sure as hell wasn’t going to try.

Bridge #4: The Steel

I run across this thing 3-4 times a week, and I never like it any better. It looks and feels rickety to me. It has the distinction of being the SECOND oldest lift-span drawbridge in use,  and the only double-deck bridge with independent lifts in the world but I think lift-span bridges are nowhere near as charming as the tippy ones. Also, when the trains roll across it is so freaking loud my head is like to splode.

Bridge #5: The Burnside

This one is tippy. It also has operator towers that look like a castle turret. It is also the bridge I personally use the most getting back and forth across town. It affords me a nice view of the White Stag/Made In Oregon/Portland, Oregon sign and of the west hills in general. I am also most pleased with the way this photo turned out.

Bridge #6: The Morrison

I don’t even really have words. I mean, blurring this photo was a huge improvement over how this bridge actually looks. I guess it’s okay when they shine all the different colored lights on it. And, thank god, they finally laid dowh some pavement. Cause, you know, in a place where it rains once in a while it was apparently impossible to predict that a metal span might become SLICK AS LUKEWARM SNOT whenever it got wet.

Bridge #7: The Hawthorne

This bridge used to be a different color, too, but I don’t remember what it was. Another lift span, it remains more charming to me than the Steel, though I couldn’t give you a sound reason why… perhaps it is because, as Mike pedantically pointed out, it is the OLDEST lift span bridge in operation.  It was about this point in my run that the “running” got a whole lot slower. 

 Bridge #8: The Marquam

Another freeway bridge. Utterly lacking the charm of its northern neighbor. Does offer a lovely view of downtown – basically only enjoyable during its frequently intolerably slow afternoon traffic. This always seems like the bridge that’d collapse first a-la the Bay Bridge when the giant earthquake we’ve all heard about finally smites us.

Bridge #9: The Ross Island

Is the gravel quarry named for the island or vice versa? Either way, it seems a rather uninspired combination of terms. This bridge is so tall it doesn’t need to be tippy OR lifty. The area beneath is has been transformed from a wasteland of post-industrial urban blight to a wasteland of post-industrial mod chic tower housing and overtly horizontally oriented pointy places of unclear provenance. It is much nicer to run past, now. Or, lurchingly hobble past, as the case may be.

Bridge #10: The Sellwood

 For most of my life, I have crossed this bridge with trepidation bordering on terror. Virtually every crossing was accompanied by an elaborate fantasy wherein, as I navigate its rickety heights, it finally succumbs to years of hard use and bad engineering to tumble me screaming headlong into the Willamette and I must use all my wiles to escape my plummeting car. Which I know damn well I wouldn’t and so thus envision my watery demise. I’m real glad they’re fixing it.

But not as glad as I was to see the end of this journey. After 26 human powered miles, I needed a sandwich and a sit down. Oof. 

*Other surfaces are kinder to joints but require greater exertion.

I say this, not to receive independent confirmation, but to remind my obstinate self that it is so.





Or, it might as well be, with respect to me spending yet another holiday season ALL ALONE!

It’s cool though, I have like practically FOUR months to come to terms with it.



My Activity Totals

Total mi


Total Activities


Total Calories



Every so often, Runkeeper sends me a little status update about my efforts. A while back i got a note that said I’d covered 500 miles. I was pretty pleased with myself.

This morning as I was rounding the esplanade, I was marveling that I have been running more or less consistently (illness and injuries notwithstanding) for over 7 months now. A little later, I got an email from Runkeeper saying I had logged my 100th activity. I’m not always super great about follow through, so this was a nice reminder that there are things I can stick to, no matter what.

There are some definite rewards in the 5am run…


What a lovely surprise to finally discover how unlonely being alone can be.

Ellen Burstyn



And, don’t give me any of that “everyone dies alone” crap. I’ve seen Donnie Darko; turns out it’s one of my favorite movies, ever. It doesn’t make me feel better.

What I believe WOULD make me feel better is a boyfriend. Who eventually became my husband. And basically, nothing else. Which is what I’m trying to get over. It hasn’t been easy.

It has been suggested (more than once, often by rejected suitors, but also by friends and/or family) that my standards are just too high. Because, apparently, wanting someone who is intelligent, funny, and attractive* is a totally outrageous expectation.

I don’t think so. Because I have that stuff to offer. And lots else besides; I am generous, thoughtful, devoted, open-minded, and flexible. I am also a tiger in the sack. Virtually every person I have ever been involved in a long-term relationship with has said I was the best partner they ever had. I bring a lot to the table.

So, what’s so freaking hard about all that? Why is it that I have spent the majority of my adult life wallowing in solitary singlehood? I think, at least in part, because in many ways, I haven’t been picky enough and I am now paying the price for my willingness to settle.

Howso? Because, I spent years of my life in relationships with people who were fundamentally ill-equipped, profoundly disinclined, or systemically incapable of meeting me on an equal footing as a loving, committed partner striving toward the goal of building a future together. While they each met my very basic criteria, they failed to be a suitable option for me in a multitude of other critical ways. I wasn’t sufficiently healthy or whole to notice this was the case until I had spent far too much time becoming emotionally invested and entangled.

I squandered my youth and indeed, my capacity to bear more children languishing in relationships with people who couldn’t, shouldn’t, or didn’t want to build a life with me. I stayed in these situations because of the irrational belief that I could not expect better, would never find anyone else I loved so much, or worse, that I would end up all alone if I left them.

But then I always did, anyway**.

And now, I am older, barren and fat***. I can’t help but believe this will diminish my appeal.

I am also, happier, wiser, and much kinder to myself and others. I like to believe that with a certain segment of the population anyway, this will serve me better than having visible abs.

And I am, as it turns out, totally willing to accept the idea that demanding more for myself might lead to a greater chance that I’ll go on being alone. Because having spent this much time by myself – happier, wiser, and fatter – I have also come to understand and more than that, to have experienced,  that being alone is far better and more satisfying than being in a bad relationship could ever hope to be.

But hey, If you know anybody…



*Yes, I realize I have very particular taste. It isn’t my fault. People are attracted to what attracts them. It isn’t like a Mongolian Buffet where you get to go in and say “Hm, yes, I want it SPICY, but also with some baby corn in it.” You like what you like because you like it; not because you planned (or even like) it that way.

**With one notable, humiliating exception, I have always been the one to end my long-term relationships.

***Fatter than I have ever been when not pregnant. I realize I am not, by customary standards actually fat, but it is irrefutably the case that I am heavier and rounder than I have ever been whilst not producing offspring.


  1. any of a genus (Sphyraena of the family Sphyraenidae) of elongate predaceous often large bony fishes of warm seas that includes food and sport fishes as well as some forms frequently causing ciguatera poisoning
  2. one that uses aggressive, selfish, and sometimes unethical methods to obtain a goal especially in business



If the real thing don’t do the trick, you better make up something quick

I am not a nice person. Ask anyone. Plenty of people will be happy to attest to the fact that I’m a heartless, selfish, cold-blooded bitch. People that don’t like me, might even say nasty things about me…

I am a truthful person. I am a devoted, generous, compassionate person. I am even, at various turns, a tremendously thoughtful and sweet person. But still, I am not a nice person.

For I do not treat everyone with equal consideration. My love, kindness, and care are inconsistently applied. I subscribe wholly to the “small village” anthropological perspective and consciously spare all the good and worthy things I have to offer for a very elect few; those who have by whatever means, earned my affection. Upon these, I lavish all that I have to give. 

Since I am not a nice person, I am deeply disinclined to false politesse. If you ask, or provoke me sufficiently, I will tell you what I think of you, whether it is flattering or no.  If you presume to tell me what you think of me without explicit invitation, I will consider that more than sufficient provocation to tear you to tiny little shreds. 

And I am very good at that, indeed. 

My mother has, for as long as I can remember, called me her “little barracuda.” She meant it with utmost affection, but said fondness in no way belied her stance that I was capable of acts of verbal viciousness that would “leave a body breathless.” My family at large used to sic me on people they felt needed a good tongue lashing; if someone had to be put in their place, I was the one to carve them down close enough to the bone that they would fit in it properly – plus, tears make good lubricant.

I think about this, each and every rare occasion someone mistakes me for a person they can call “Sweetie”