Monthly Archives: November 2010

RTW: Crazy Depends on Where You Start…

My one and only foray into Wyoming. Circa 1994.

“The winds in Washokey make people go crazy.”

Inspired by Road Trip Wednesday over at YA Highway and the first line of Kirsten Hubbard’s fabulous-looking upcoming debut novel, “LIKE MANDARIN,” I present….the craziest thing I’ve ever done.

Well, there’s been a whole lot of crazy in my life. Most of it good. But one of the first things that comes to mind is the way I met my husband.

First of all, we met way back in the day before Internet dating was the norm. Nowadays, it seems like every couple I know met online. They both knew about each other’s likes and dislikes, got to stalk and research and think about things before connecting. Definitely an intriguing concept. I remember reading Lincoln Child’s “DEATH MATCH” and wondering what it would be like to meet someone with the knowledge that you are “compatible.” In Child’s futuristic matchmaking world, when the revered 100% compatibility is reached, the pair is deemed a “supercouple” and their lasting happiness is ensured. Or is it…?

Eh, I won’t ruin the twist in Child’s fun sci-fi romp that looks at love, pairing, and the whole point of it all in the not-so-distant future, but I will say that meeting my own better half was nothing short of luck. Barely out of college, I went out dancing at a well-known San Francisco nightclub with a group of friends. He was out at the same club with a friend. Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” came on in the disco room and I needed a guy to sing it to. A couple of hours, a landline phone number scrawled on a piece of paper later, and the rest is history.

Would we ever have met if we allowed computers and technology and questionnaires to lead our fate? Probably not. Does that mean we aren’t compatible? Heck, I’m not sure I even know what that means. But fifteen years after the fact, I’m still absolutely smitten with my disco-loving man. It made so much sense at the time, but compared to the way the world works now, it feels a little crazy to meet a stranger and just…take a chance on love.

Post-novel blues…

Every culture has its own jargon. The running realm is no different. Paradoxically, the terms become more psychologically-oriented the longer the distance.

Taper madness.

The Wall.

Post-marathon depression.

For me, one of the joys of running is getting to be your own coach. That means every run, every race, every injury, every accomplishment, and every failure is an opportunity to learn. And to apply that knowledge in the future. I’ve always strived to make up for what I lack in talent, by running smart.

This has served me well. In the three weeks before a marathon, when I need to cut back on my mileage in order to be rested on race day, I know that I’ll start to doubt my ability to run 26.2 miles. I know I’ll start to imagine all sorts of injuries, illnesses, and natural disasters that will keep me from getting to the starting line.

Same with the Wall: the infamous twenty-mile spot in which runners are expected to start breaking down physically. What you tell yourself at this point can be the difference between reaching your goal time and spending the next six months wishing you’d just pushed harder when things got tough.

But whether the obstacle is paranoia or pain, the solution is anticipation: knowing, planning, and practicing what you’re going to tell yourself when these self-defeating thoughts rear their ugly heads. I think it’s the same with writing; understanding and knowing where you’re likely to struggle means you can pre-empt some of your pitfalls.

However, the one phase of training I’ve never spent any time planning for is the post-marathon depression; that time when the race is over, the training is over, and some of your purpose in life is just….over. And I’ve definitely felt the parallel writing process: a post-novel depression. It’s hard to shut the door on the universe, characters, conflicts you’ve come to care deeply about.

Regardless of outcome, losing something you feel emotionally invested in is a loss. And with loss comes grief. I guess grief can be seen as a symptom of a larger process—the return to homeostasis.

As such, perhaps the sorrow, discomfort, and ruminating emptiness are all the body and mind’s way of saying: Take the time to appreciate and honor all of your hard work and commitment. Reflect. But then go out, pick a new goal, and do it all over again.

Is there a way to inoculate oneself against the blues that follow the finishing of a novel or a marathon? I really don’t know.

And I don’t know that there should be.