Measured in Miles

March 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

Hello, world!

I haven’t here written in ages (in a year!) but I want to start again. Shall I tell you why I stopped? I shall.

Exactly a year ago, I was interviewing for my current position at Clockwork. In my last interview, my future boss would ask me how I was engaged online. I said the usual: Facebook, twitter (sometimes, but that I really didn’t know what to tweet) and that I blogged. “Oh, what do you blog about?” She asked. Well, I said, I blog about writing. And then I told her (and the rest of my interviewers) that I blogged about my novel — and if I was to be honest — my novel that I quit writing. My future boss, Nancy, then said, “I’ve totally read your blog!” Now, dear readers, at this point in the interview I was elated that a near stranger had somehow found my little blog in the giant sludge pile of blogs out there. I’m pretty sure I forgot that I was in an interview, and got all awkwardly jumpy and sweaty and asked her however did she find it? I couldn’t have been more thrilled, until I told this to my friend who said, “She’s the CEO of a web development company? She probably totally googled you and found your blog before the interview.”

Then, during my second week at Clockwork, one of the directors came up to me and said he enjoyed my second to last blog post. And also said he hoped it wasn’t creepy that he read my blog. I wasn’t creeped out at all! I was glad because PEOPLE WERE READING MY BLOG!

And then I stopped writing because people were reading my blog. A lot of my posts were about writing, yes, but a lot of other posts were about my job, my personal relationships, and life. You know, life with its messiness and existential questions that sometimes will cause family members to worry and pray. And even though I knew Clockworkers were about to become a new sort of family, I still wanted to keep some things out of my work life. I should have realized that being engaged online, and working with nerds who really love all things online, that they’d probably come find me. Oh, and the fact that I listed it in the “About me” section on Facebook. I wanted people to read it, but figured only serious stalkers should reap the reward from finding that link.

I’m comfortable saying things in my blog now that anyone can read – even if those words are sometimes scary and real. A while back I blogged about certainty and how much I hated uncertainty. Well, I’m working on embracing a new opposite of certainty: possibility. I don’t really have a plan for this blog anymore since my novel is dead, but oh the possibilities! And I know that I miss writing down my thoughts. One might ask (actually, my subconscious is asking me this very moment!), “Why don’t you just journal then?” I could, and I do. But knowing there’s an audience (albeit, a small one), I choose my words a little more carefully. Like a writer should. I realize this post is a little spastic, but that’s how I feel. And I haven’t been here in a year, so I’m feeling a little disoriented. Give me time to settle back in, and I hope I’ll have something good to say. Until then, some thoughts on time.

T.S. Eliot (or J. Alfred Prufrock, rather) measured his life out with coffee spoons. I’ve been thinking about how I measure my life. And the obvious answer is years, and months, and days. I’m thirty, and that number hit me like a brick this week. I’m thirty! When I was fifteen, I imagined I’d have a handsome husband and a few bouncing babies on my hip at this age. I suppose I could say honestly that I’ve had both, but I could also say that I don’t. But more than anything, it’s interesting to me that I picked an arbitrary number to be a guiding post in life.

I think a lot about time, and how I spend it. Because time is a currency, or at least that is how we Westerners see it. At work this is most obvious, as I measure my day into billable hours. My weeks are measured by meetings and check-ins with my team. And all other units of time are measured in phases leading up to the ever elusive launch date. When a project begins, the first date I add to the calendar is the launch date. And even though that launch date usually moves, it becomes an anchor, or a marker in which to measure everything else against. It’s no different in other areas of my life. I registered for a marathon that’s now nine weeks away, and so I’ve planned out my long runs, working backwards from May 19th. I have all sorts of future dates that again, are arbitrarily chosen, but it still helps me figure out where I need to be today.

But how do I measure my life? And what does T.S. Eliot even mean that Mr. Prufrock measures his life with coffee spoons. First off, what is a coffee spoon? Is it a teaspoon you use to stir sugar and cream into your coffee? Or is there such a thing as a coffee spoon? I’d like to ask Mr. Eliot this, among other things.

Right now, and perhaps for the last few years, I’ve been measuring my life with miles. To the runner, the mile is the great countable noun. I count the number of miles I run in a day, in a week, in a month, and the number of miles I run in a pair of shoes. I count the number of minutes and seconds it takes me to run a mile, to run three or to run 26.2 miles. I count the number of weeks until my next race. I excitedly count the number of calories I burn (and thus count the number of calories I can consume). I count the number of pounds I’ve lost (isn’t it funny we say lost?) and grudgingly count the number of pounds I also gain. These numbers that I count every day determine my level of personal satisfaction and general mood. If I am just one (one!) pound lighter on the scale, I zip into my skinniest of skinny jeans and feel slender all day long. If I have put on a pound, I’ll throw on a sweatshirt and barely comb my hair. If I run 14 miles in a day, I’m happy to spend the remainder of the day lounging on my couch reading a book, or napping or watching movies. (And no, I will not count the pages read, the hours napped, the movies watched.) But if I have not run even one mile, then I count those precious hours making sure to do something fruitful.

Being in a long distance relationship, I count the number of months we’ve spent apart (six now!) and the number of months we have left until he’s back in St. Paul (also six!) I count the days until I get to see him again (two!) and the number of hours it takes to get there (four!) and the number of cassette tapes of Shadow of the Wind I’ll get to listen to on the way (hopefully all eleven!) When I cross the border into North Dakota, I count the number of trains, and small towns, and minutes it will be before I reach Rutland. Before I get to wrap my two arms around him.

One summer I counted the number of words I wrote every day, trying to reach 500 like my writer idol, Graham Greene.

Some days I actually count the number of chocolate chips I eat. I particularly hate this kind of counting.

At night, I count my blessings, and it takes me a while. And then the world sort of just stops.


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