Dead leaves and the dirty ground…

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I’m on the plane again! Mia and I are en route to Tortola for the finish of the Caribbean 1500. We’re pretty sure that everyone else on the plane is on the way to vacation. We won’t have much time to relax – the first two boats are due in tomorrow morning around 2am, so we’ll get right to it!

But this post is nothing about that. I don’t know what it’s about. I’m listening to Jack White right now, which is where I got the title from. I remember during my senior year of high school (we have our ten-year anniversary in about two weeks) Adam Moerder’s band played that song at the talent show. I don’t think anybody had a clue who the White Stripes were then, save for Adam and his friends. I can’t wait to ask him about that when Ryan and I chat with him for the podcast. It’s his song, after all, that is in the intro of Two Inspired Guys. His band now is called Mr. Dream. Check them out.

Speaking of the podcast, I listened to the episode with Nate just now on the airplane. It’s slightly hard to hear him – he was on the phone in the LA airport, while Ryan and I were on Skype at the other end – but the episode is genuinely (I hope) hilarious. We spent a good 20 minutes or so talking about Jerry Sandusky and what’s going on up at PSU (which is definitely not funny), but then we sort of meander around, talking about his trip to LA, about a couple movies, about our upcoming trip to Quebec. Lots of stuff. If you’re one of our friends from Penn State, you’ll find it interesting. If you know any of the three of us, you’ll (hopefully) find it funny. And if not, well it’s worth a listen anyway. Nate will be a recurring guest host on the show, the ‘Third’ Inspired Guy as we like to call him. He could have been in on it altogether from the outset, but he said the podcast was a stupid idea.

Mia and I have been home in PA for the past couple of days after driving home from Hampton on Tuesday night. It’s never enough time when we’re home between trips like this. I love coming home, playing with the dogs, riding my bike and just enjoying sprawling out in the house. You cannot understand the relief of having a kitchen to use and groceries to buy after having eaten three meals a day for fifteen days in a hotel restaurant or on the street somewhere. I do like going out to eat, and I don’t want to sound spoiled, but I would much rather cook.

We went to the farmer’s market on Thursday and bought a big soup bone and a 1.75 lb chunk of beef roast and I made a slow-cooked beef stew for my dad, mommom, pappap, Mia and I. Oatmeal, my dog, got what was left of the bone after we ate the meat. She dropped it in the toilet later that night – either on purpose to hide it from Lewis, my mom and dad’s dog, or simply because she forgot to put it down when she went for a drink. Dad rescued and rinsed it off for her.

I complained to Mia yesterday that I’m exhausted with writing about stuff I have to write about, stuff I’m getting paid to write about. I love it – don’t get me wrong – but I need to find a balance as well. I started all of this right here, on this blog that I started way back in 2006, and for no other reason than its what I felt like doing. Writing was an escape for me then, a way to document my experiences, a way to reflect on how I felt about my life, a way to talk to myself when I had something to think about. It’s a side career now, a dream come true for me, but I write stuff like this less and less, and I’m missing that. I read something I wrote in 2009 yesterday, and I almost felt depressed reading it, like I’ve somehow lost the ability to write like that, like I used to when there was no motivation beyond the process itself. It saddened me.

Interestingly, and I suspect this is true of a lot of writers, I like being by myself. I don’t often get lonely (sometimes I do when Mia is gone for a while), and I need that time by myself to recharge. I have this goal this winter to take the tent that my sister and Kevin got us for our wedding and take Oatmeal out for a three-day hike in the forest, just the two of us and that little camp stove and some coffee and soup. In fact I will do that. Just the thought of it makes me happy. There it is then. I’m doing it. And you’re not invited!

I reflected on this solitude two days ago out on my bicycle. I only had time and enough daylight for a short 20-mile loop around Leesport, but it was the first time in two-and-a-half weeks that I was physically by myself and not surrounded by people. I smiled to myself, and cycled even harder, thriving on that energy (it was the opposite of the morning the day before. I was so tired from not getting good enough sleep for several nights in a row that I turned into a monster the first morning home. Mia and I had a huge fight, and I ended up going to sleep for 3 hours. I woke up refreshed and went over to Dane’s gym to workout, feeling fantastic).

Incidentally, Mia had started tracking how I feel in the morning in her calendar. I get a frown face when I wake up tired, a smiley face when I wake up refreshed. I’m learning that to get really good sleep, I need to turn the computer off at 6pm and relax for a while before bed. My brain is my biggest ally and my biggest enemy – it’s flooded with all of these ideas, all of these things I want to work on, all these things I want to do in my life. But I have trouble shutting it off. I had a streak in Hampton of five or six smiley faces in a row, and seemed to have figured out a good formula – limit myself to two cups of coffee in the morning, don’t turn the computer on until after breakfast, exercise sometime in the afternoon and turn the computer off before dinner (and leave it off), and don’t drink more than one glass of wine in the evening.

I’m doing it to myself today on the plane. I slept for 45 minutes or so as soon as we took off (we woke up at 4am this morning to get brekky in and arrive at the airport on time). Then I woke up and started thinking. Started thinking about people we can interview for the podcast and what we can ask them. About my idea of doing a live podcast in front of my high school, doing a sort of panel discussion with some of the people I graduated with who have made careers following non-traditional paths and been successful at it. Started thinking about what I was going to write in this space today, specifically not for any reason other than I wanted to write it. Started thinking about how Mia and I can make the Caribbean 1500 better, this week in Tortola and going forward. Thinking about Matt’s Ocean Research Project and how I can help get that off the ground.

There is so freaking much to do! And I love it all! It’s a curse sometimes, especially when I can’t sleep at night. And when I leave my paid writing projects to the last minute and stress myself out trying to both get them done on time but also make them as good as I possibly can. I didn’t even mention my bike shop idea. That’s coming. It’s on the back burner right now (actually, it’s probably still marinating in the fridge that is the far left corner of my brain), but it’ll happen one day. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish when you stay busy.

One last idea – I think I’d like to run a triathlon again in the springtime. But I couldn’t find any online early enough in the season that I could go. So how about a 30-mile ultra-marathon on the trails around Blue Marsh Lake? I could get people to sign up for that, right? I’ll hike it first this winter, just me and Oatmeal and my tent, and we’ll scout out the route. I’ll probably (not) fall asleep tonight thinking about that.