Saturday, July 23, 2011

Running with the Devil

Running with the Devil

Finally I have laced up my running shoes again.  David, too.  We do not run together -- Sage could never keep up and her BOB jogger was demolished in The Crash -- so we take turns.  Scheduling around work and packing (and this month, Le Tour de France) makes getting a little running time in difficult.  Mid-day seems to be the only time I can get to myself, and you can probably guess what running at that time of day is like.  Brutal, right.  Like running with the devil in hell itself.

Believe me, it's miserable sometimes but when I finish my daily 5K -- despite the heat, gallons of sweat pouring from every pore -- I feel almost invincible.  One tough chick: yep, that's me.  And spiritually I'm connected to Nature and its creator.  It is always a beautiful experience and there is no such thing as a 'bad run.'

I love music.  Growing up in a family of well-seasoned as well as aspiring musicians introduced me to all sorts of genres, artists, and songs.  My grandmother wrote poetry and music and was a talented guitarist and singer.  Her favorites were Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra, but she also loved Eric Clapton.  She requested that "Dust in the Wind" by Kansas be played at her funeral...and it was, along with an old country tune "The Face of Jesus", or something like that.  My grandma was the coolest...My grandfather sang gospel and was music director at his church in more recent years.  Whenever I listen to Elvis' recording of "Peace in the Valley", I hear my Papaw's voice.  He does not perform any longer but he still has an ear for all things music.  My dad and many of my uncles play guitar and sing.  Everybody would come to our house to jam Rick Derringer, Grand Funk Railroad, the Eagles, Vanilla Fudge, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and others.  My mom was really into the Motown sound, the Beatles and, of course, Elvis, so I spent a lot of time learning the lyrics to her favorite songs.  My brother is a very gifted musician, too.  He can sing, play drums, pluck around on a piano, and get along on a bass, but his true talent is playing guitar.  As kids we listened to all the music our parents and grandparents shared with us, but we also discovered our own stuff.  Together we rocked out to Kiss and Van Halen.  Then disco took over my brain and we went our separate ways.  He found old school hip-hop and rap, then Ozzy and Judas Priest, and bunch of other speedy-metally stuff that I didn't really 'get'.  In high school we reconnected by way of Guns 'n Roses, The Cult, a bunch of poppy hair-swinging glam bands.  Then he left home to tour with an up-and-coming hair-swinging band...Over the years we swapped suggestions about grunge, alternative, new alternative, soul, R&B, rap, hip-hop, blues, Americana, Texana and, most recently, Texas Country Blues.  At least that's what I'm calling's storytelling like country but without the Nashville twang, bluesy but with more than 3 chords, and all about Texas or Texans. 

So when I run, I like to listen to music.  Deciding WHAT to listen to is the hard part.  Black Crowes is one of my favorite soundtracks because their music is mellow enough that I feel relaxed despite the stress I'm putting on my body.  It also has great lyrics, so my mind has something better to do than think about work or family or whatever else is wearing on me that day.  And Chris' voice is so bluesy, so passionate and eery and sexy, I forget that my brand new trail shoes are making my heels bleed.

No matter the brilliance of the lyrics, driving bassline or drum beat, haunting vocals or 'danceability' of my running soundtrack, my mind still tries to solve the world's problems.  Not really.  Just my own, but sometimes my little worries seem large enough to affect the entire world.  We as a family have endured some huge life stresses this year.  Business was fabulously frenetic, so we had very little time to resolve our personal issues.  Now that spring has concluded and we are running again, we have clarity and time to agree on some solutions.  Our world changed in an instant, and it has taken us four months to reach a point where we could regroup to continue our odyssey.  If you or someone you know has ever entertained the fantasy of leading a more simple life, I'm your go-to girl for information.

David Lee Roth was spot-on when he crooned that he found the simple life "ain't so simple."  It can be, with a lot of experimentation, patience, and perseverance.  You have to know going into this transition that it takes a while to get used to certain things, like using bathhouses at state parks.  Only a handful of your fellow campers are long-termers like you, which means most of the people camping around you are weekend warriors.  This is their vacation, not their way of life.  Often they are loud, they trash the place, and somehow they miss the toilet.  Dodging poop-mines stinks...literally.  They drop their kids' dirty diapers everywhere, they get scared of snakes and spiders and scream or, worse, frantically bludgeon the poor creatures to death.  When you live among Nature full-time you become absorbed back into the natural order and processes of life; you respect it and all the creatures because they are your neighbors.  But when you interact with Nature only a few times per year, you forget that you do not have dominion over it.  You do not always respect your creature-neighbors. 

Moving your stuff around also takes some getting used to.  Most of our stuff is stored in bins and is shuffled in and out of the truck.  At first, it's frustrating when you are looking for a lighter to start the fire or the sole surviving dish towel.  Eventually, though, you choreograph this dance to coincide with your normal daily rituals and organize your belongings accordingly.  If you will be in one place for longer than a night, you can use the bins to create extra seating or a privacy wall between you and the critter-killers.  You won't have to shuffle bins around all the time, but you still have to remember what's in which bin.  It takes some time, and when you finally figure it all out, circumstances seem to change.  Patience.

Probably the two greatest lessons I've learned are that size does matter and privacy issues abound.  I still espouse the values of the tiny house movement, but our needs with regard to space have changed.  Sage is growing like a weed, and she would like to have her own area to sleep and play.  Maybe even have a friend over!  Impossible in our current tiny-home-on-wheels.  We can make modifications and are currently looking into the feasibility of adding a rooftop tent to the trailer or to the truck camper.  Not necessarily the monetary feasibility...what we need to know is, will it really improve our living conditions?  Or do we need to start looking for or planning to build another tiny-home-on-wheels?  For the moment, we are choosing to use a tent in addition to our trailer.  Making drastic changes in our living quarters will need to wait until winter when business activity will go into hibernation.

Privacy is a HUGE concern now.  David and I have no time together alone.  Anytime of day, there are at least two sets of eyes watching us and two sets of ears listening to our conversations.  Private discussions about work, money, US, or other topics unsuitable for tiny ears rarely happen.  Consequently, our dates consist of putting the kiddos to bed and spending about an hour star-gazing and sipping a few beers.  Any longer than an hour and we are worthless the next day.  Fortunately we are both committed to stealing moments whenever we can, even if it's just a quick "I miss you."  We acknowledge the burden this odyssey is putting on our marriage and are working hard to find a solution that both allows us to continue our journey and nurture our relationship.  From the beginning, we agreed that if at any point any of us became uncomfortable or felt unsafe, the journey would stop immediately.  So far, we are all still all-in.  We must reconfigure, that's all, before we jump out on that road and continue living at a pace that kills.

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