Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sidereal: of, relating to, or expressed in relation to stars or constellations; astral

Tonight I went to Poets of the American West, 1910-2010, the Poetry Society of America's Centennial Celebration at the Hammer Museum. Five poets read poems of their own and of their favorite poets of the region from the past century.

I was scared it would be pretentious argle-bargle, as the girls of Cable210 would say, but it wasn't. It wasn't pretentious at all. It was beautiful, if a little bit boring.

Wanda Coleman read first, and she read poetry the way poetry is meant to be read. I had never heard poetry read well until I went to college and my roommate read some to me (I am forever grateful to her for this). And then I got the In Their Own Voices: A Century of Recorded Poetry box set and my education continued... which brings me to wonder about education, and do English teachers have any idea how to read poetry? And does anyone today teach children how to read poetry? I mean this literally, how to read it aloud, how it's supposed to be said, not just understood. I know high school kids are made to read at least some small number of poems in English classes; the question is does anyone read them, perform them for the students? Certainly none of my own beloved English teachers ever did when I was in NY and then FL public schools. I loved English, I loved reading, I loved my teachers. I didn't even know they were falling down on this particular job.

Anyway, back to tonight. Wanda Coleman was awesome.

The best line I jotted down in Sharpie (where's my pen?) on the back of the Hammer Winter Calendar (where's my notebook?) was:
"I put my eyes on a diet, my tears are gaining too much weight", from "Heavy Water Blues" by Bob Kaufman, which has many more almost-but-not-quite-too-cute bits I liked.

Two jokes walk into a bar.

The emcee, ohemgee, accidentally pronounced Pasadena as though the n were an ñ. I may say it like that forever, starting now.

I learned two important things that I almost knew before but now really know:

0. CA poets are enthralled with the fires.

1. Modern poets love the word "Egyptologist".

There is a scarf for sale to benefit the Hammer Museum (It's a museum. What kind of museum? A hammer museum.) that says "DO ASK. DO TELL." I kind of like it.

As a performing dancer, I couldn't help noticing the dimensions of the stage and the physical layout of the theater. It was funny to me to see the entire thing used only for a small podium arranged on the far (audience) left of the stage. I mean, it's poetry. But on a stage.

In an art museum! Awesome.

Something someone said made me want to make one of those WANTED posters for Black Friday... like, the reward is offered, but TODAY ONLY, 50% OFF!!

Terry could do it and make it funny. I can't.

PS Better Book Titles is killing me right now. Litgeek humor, anyone?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Running Year in Review; or, Yay Me.

We recently passed the one-year anniversary of my first marathon-training run - it was on Halloween, 2009.

I have run 4 marathons since that day, within about 9 months.

I have run over 383 miles since then. That's not a big number for a runner, but I'm not a runner; I'm a girl who decided to do a couple few several marathons. Four of those miles occurred after my last marathon, but I still don't really intend to do much more running. It's on to biking for me - much better for the knees!

An extremely important fact I'd like you to know: over the course of this whole temporary insanity, I have not lost even one toenail. None have turned black, ever. I hear constantly about this phenomenon and I just skipped it entirely, thank you.

I ran two of these marathons for friendship and two for charities. For the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society I raised over $5000. For the Blue Card Fund (for needy Holocaust survivors) I raised another $2500. If you helped make that happen, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

The NYC marathon was a really hard one for me physically. I was tired, jetlagged, sick, and not well-trained. It was still a glorious day and it meant the world to me that my family came out to support me (did you see that amazing video???? I am so obsessed with it) and that a dear friend flew into town just to be there for me. I am so grateful and I will never forget it.

I posted my marathon playlist after the LA marathon and I won't repeat it, but I did add a few songs for this one, for example:
Go Go Erica Yaa Yeah / Goldma Family 1:25
(the audio from that video!!)

In honor of running NY:
The Only Living Boy In New York / Simon & Garfunkel 4:02
New York State Of Mind / Billy Joel 6:03
New York Mining Disaster / The Bee Gees 2:09
An Englishman In New York / Sting 4:27
New York City / They Might Be Giants 3:02
The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) / Simon & Garfunkel 1:43
I kind of threw them into the mix wherever, without calculation, but don't you know THE 59TH STREET BRIDGE SONG CAME ON WHILE I WAS RUNNING ACROSS THE 59TH STREET BRIDGE!! Oh yes.

(Empire State of Mind (Jay-Z and Alicia Keys) was already on there)

And, in honor of having come straight from a yoga and mediation tour of India, a few mantras and related songs:
Mahamrityunjaya Mantra 4:28
Lokah Samasta 1:07
Om Tryambakam with Swami Vishnu-devananda 1:14
Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu 1:08
Gobinda Gobinda Hari Hari / Snatam Kaur Khalsa 10:47

And that's the end of my marathon career! Right?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Are you still carrying that woman? I put her down back there by the river.

A friend/ acquaintance/colleague/whatever just wrote to me:
I hope your trip to India was amazing. I'm still not sure how you traveled around the world and then came back to run a marathon. You are my hero.

I replied as follows, and was immediately struck by the truth of my response:
Regarding India and then marathon: It seems that I frequently do things at which I look back and think, how did I do that? I guess it's better than looking forward at things and thinking I can't, but it is a weird phenomenon. It's only a week after my FOURTH marathon, this YEAR, and I've already moved into the "marathon? I can't run a marathon!" stage.

Why do I do that? How does that happen? I think I do the opposite of resting on my laurels; I wear them like a crown of thorns...

Botanically mixed metaphors, anyone?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Best. Family. Ever.

Running NYC!!

Well, here we go again! I, along with about 45,000 other maniacs, am running the NYC Marathon tomorrow!! I'm starting in the third wave at around 10:40am Eastern, orange, and my bib number is 53-679. If you're in the area, come cheer for me!! Send me a text with where you are (which mile) and I'll look out for you.

You can track me with text messages or online or whatever you want - details here. I'd like to do a sub-5-hour marathon, but I haven't exactly trained, or slept, or hydrated or... so who knows!

There's so much I want to write about this right now, but I'm super jetlagged from two weeks on the other side of the world, literally, and not done packing for L.A. or getting ready for the race or... acccckkk!!

See you at the finish.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Namaste नमस्ते - now with pictures!

Well, I'm in India, I'm having an unbelievably amazing trip, and there just isn't enough Internet access to live-blog it. But I seem to be live-tweeting it, weirdly, since my cellphone is working pretty well almost everywhere. So for the moment, here are my first 10 days worth of tweets and pix!

21 Oct

A lovely morning of yoga and touring Old Delhi. Next, shopping in New Delhi, and trying to convince my body it's 2pm, not 2am.
22 Oct

Just said an entire sentence in Hindi. To an actual Hindu. In Hindustan.
22 Oct

A few hours until we go see the Taj Mahal, at midnight, under a full moon. So excited! PS please god no more buffets.
23 Oct

You know how they say the Taj Mahal is stunning regardless of how many kitschy pictures you've seen of it? Truth.
23 Oct

Sharing the road with my tour bus: Cars. Other buses. Trucks. Rickshaws, bicycles. People on foot. Cows. Dogs. Camels. Horses. A goat.
24 Oct

I almost didn't see that dromedary hidden beneath that tree. He was completely camelflaged.
24 Oct

On the road in Rajahstan.
24 Oct

On Safari in India and people are all excited over peacocks. I'm all: whatevs. Come to @campalonim
24 Oct

Omg omg omg
24 Oct

It's a tiger-eat-deer world out there. Wait till you see the video. Omg. #India
24 Oct

Guys, I haven't seen my email in 6 days. SIX DAYS WITH NO EMAIL. No, it's ok, I'm surviving. Sort of. Barely.
25 Oct

Yes, I took those pix of tigers in Ranthambore National Park. No, I didn't see Katy and whatshisname.
25 Oct

Yes, I have been staying at the same "luxury resort" where many of their guests stayed. No, I never want to leave. But: on to Jaipour!
25 Oct

Done with morning yoga and breakfast in Jaipur. Now - elephant ride!!
26 Oct

When in India...
26 Oct

I. Bought. A. Rug. Omg I bought a rug. In India. At the factory where they make them. Silk. Gorgeous. Omg so much money. 27 Oct Back in Delhi. So, what's in the nightstand drawer of Indian hotels? The Bhagavad-Gita, of course... and Gideon's Bible. Yes, really. 28 Oct Getting on Kingfisher Airlines to fly up to the Himalayas. Naming an airline after an alcoholic beverge? Don't drink and fly! 29 Oct Hello, Dehradun. On to one of the 7 holy cities, Haridwar, Gateway to the Gods. Our guide just said, Welcome to the real India. Challo! 29 Oct "Wait, is that the fucking River Ganges right there?" Yes, yes it is. Satsong on the roof and now bed. Back up there for yoga at 8am. 30 Oct Overheard at rooftop yoga today when in the distance, a bell rings. "Is that breakfast?" "No, the opposite; that's God." 30 Oct

A sign for @CCnono 's collection!
30 Oct

How great is the word _funicular_? Also, how great is a funicular ride up to worship a Hindu deity that grants wishes? I love this place.
30 Oct

Yes, this is what I came halfway around the world for...
30 Oct

Heading to Rishikesh, the yoga capital of the world. Ashrams, saddhus (pilgrims), yogis, swamis.

On the way to an ashram - Chabad House!!

31 Oct

Last night in Haridwar, great group celebration (I got the Shakti award- "ready, willing, and able"!) and getting so sad to leave... :(

1 Nov

Also, kinda got picked up by one of the waiters who all think I look exactly like Katrina Kaff. Now, if only he'd stop calling me "Katie".

1 Nov

On a train, from Haridwar to Delhi. In the station, travelers, pilgrims, beggars, monkeys. And utter chaos... which somehow isn't really.

2 Nov

About 15 more hours in India. Unutterably sad.

2 Nov

What's on the menu at Mcdonald's Delhi? The ususal: Paneer salsa wrap. McTikka Masala. Big chicken Masala Mac. Filet-O-Fish.

3 Nov

Saturday, October 16, 2010

If you want to buy me some lululemon stuff, that's ok with me. Just sayin'.

0. I bought new shoes! As bad of an idea as it seemed, especially given that I didn't even buy the exact same shoes as I had before, the woman in the store took a good look at my old shoes and made it clear that however stupid it might be to buy new ones right now, running in those other ones was even stupider. Seriously, I had been thinking about how-many-months and how-many-miles and never once picking the damn things up, looking at the (utter lack of) tread on the bottoms and making a rational decision based on the fact that they are SHOT TO HELL.
AND they cost less than $100! And here's a shout-out to my two favorite running stores, Road Runner Sports (where I bought both pairs of shoes) and Phidippides, who always has my favorite flavors of sport bean even if no one else does.

1. I ran 20 miles today! The first 15 went well, and I was elated as I started the 4th lap (I run a 5-mile loop at the park), thinking about how proud I was about to be that, no matter how long it took, I got my ass up and out and ran 20 miles, alone!! And then I took a dive. I tripped, I fell. Face plant. Sprawled in the dirt. I bit it. I ate pavement, man, literally. I finished the last 3 or so miles bloody, dirty, and tear-stained. Well, a new experience every time, eh? Cool.

2. And because 20 is not so different from 26.2, you get this: scarily accurate. My favorite is the shoe-tying attempt.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

My sneakers, because you really care about this particular detail

So, last year when I first started running, I went to a good running store and got analyzed and fitted and bought a new pair of good running sneakers. They were great. To be honest, I had been having some calf pain from running before the new shoes and it went completely away from the moment I started using the new shoes.

So I've run in those shoes for a year now, and I've so far put at least 333 miles on them, including three marathons.

I'm going to run 20 miles on Saturday, my last long run before the NYC marathon. I'll be in India for the intervening two-plus weeks, so I'm not planning to run much, if at all, in between.

So the big question is, do I get new shoes for NY??

Experts generally say good shoes can handle 300-500 miles before they are worn out. After this weekend, my shoes will have over 350 on them, and a marathon is, you know, a marathon. The hardest run you ever do. This makes me think yes, get new shoes.

On the other hand, I don't have much time to be sure they're good or that there are no problems with them. One doesn't have to "break in" good shoes, but that doesn't mean that a 20-mile run is a good idea for a very-first time wearing them. So that makes me think, no, don't get new shoes, because certainly the mary itself can't be the first time I wear them, and the only other option is the 20-miler. There just isn't any time for us to get to know each other. AND BUT I can't jeopardize the 20, because I have no other time to do it and I must get that in before I leave for India!

So, what do you say?

(We're talking about $100 here, maybe a little more. Not pocket change, but nothing that's going to break the bank...)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

You complete me.

So, in college I knew a girl named Lauren Elson and another named Laura Nelson.

Now I know someone named Loren Nelson, and I'd like to collect all four.

Laura Elson, are you out there? Can we be friends?

Friday, October 8, 2010


So, as you may know, I'm going to India soon!!

As requested, here's the story: I'm going for two-week trip with my mom and a group of her friends. The trip is in honor of her 60th birthday. She's wanted to visit India for as long as she can remember and now she's finally going! I'm so excited and lucky that her birthday request is that I go along too :)

The itinerary is set by the tour group and not at all up to me. Sadly, this means I'm not going to make it to either Mumbai or Varanasi, both of which I'd really like to see. However, we will be in New Delhi, Agra, Ranthambore, Jaipur, and Haridwar. I think the most free time we have is at the end of the trip, in Haridwar and back in New Delhi before we leave. I'm really excited about the whole trip, and totally open to whatever kinds of experiences the group has planned for us.

I've been taking an Introductory Hindi class for a few weeks! It's a ridiculously few hours of class for only a short number of weeks, but at least I can sound out lots of written words and I can say the most basic things, like "My name is Erica" and "I'm not a doctor but I am a teacher." You know, the usual :)

It's actually kind of funny looking at how I'm preparing for this trip overall. Do I know what the exchange rate for dollars is in the local currency, or the details of that local currency? Nope. Did I think to get an electrical adapter until, like, yesterday? Nope. Do I know what the weather is supposed to be like when I'm there? Not so much. I didn't research those things.

So what have I been doing?
First, I read Shantaram, an INCREDIBLE book that takes place in Mumbai.

Now I'm reading the Bhavagad-Gita and a book by Salman Rushdie, and the stack next to me consists of: Gandhi's autobiography, Forster's A Passage to India, A Fine Balance, and two Jhumpa Lahiri books. (It actually also includes The Jew in the Lotus, but that may be a whole nother story.)

I watched "Monsoon Wedding" on Netflix last week (thanks, B!) and I've got a list of four other Indian movies I'd like to get to before I leave, if I can find them.

I downloaded a whole bunch of Bollywood music.

Einat and I went to Jewel of India for dinner on Thursday.

And I'm studying Hindi! If I could find a Bhangra class to take here before I leave, you know I'd be all over that. It's the culture-immersion approach, don't you know? :)

Hey - you ever been to India? If you've got advice, suggestions, warnings, postcard-requests, whatever... send 'em over! read_dance_bliss at yahoo dot com... or use the comments!

Thursday, October 7, 2010


In a comment on my post about my upcoming fourth marathon, SJK pointed me to this short article about a man running a marathon on every continent. My favorite bits are these, mostly the descriptions of the races:

...Heyl will brave sub-zero temperatures, strong Katabatic winds, and the task of running 26.2 miles in Antarctica to realize his goal of completing a marathon on every continent; joining a club of less than 100 people who have done so in history, said Richard Donovan, organizer of the race and member of the club.

Fewer than 100 people!

...the Paris Marathon, a tour through the City of Lights, and then found himself training for The Great Wall Marathon, which takes place along the Great Wall of China.

He spent his afternoons that year running up and down the stairwell of the 13-story building where he works, trying to prepare for the tiny steps and high slopes of the Great Wall, designed to repel invaders with uneven footings and narrow pathways.

Sooooooooo cool!

The Gold Coast Marathon in Australia was followed by the Big Five marathon in a game reserve near Johannesburg, South Africa — where Heyl said he ran along lions and cheetahs over loose sand.

Heyl's wife, Andrea, said his sixth race, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, was a treat for her too.

Australia and South Africa and Buenos Aires are sooooooo high on my travel wish list I can't even tell you.

Registration for the [Antarctica] race is listed [at] 9,900 Euros, or $12,741.30, on its website.

Haaaaaaaaaa ha. Too bad I have this work-for-a-living thing going on. Independently wealthy, and I might consider this a decent way to spend some time :)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Multiples; Or, Two vignettes about how I'm perfectly normal.

0. Ha ha, an author of books about marathons has a webpage about multiple marathons. He describes how one woman ran a marathon three weeks after running another one. What does he have to say about this? He calls it:

"Insanity at its purest level". YES!

(Really, it was no problem. I was already trained! I just recovered and then did it again - easy!)

1. On my own, I'm not so good at getting my ass out the door at obscenely early hours of the day to run obscenely long distances, so I sometimes run with Team in Training even though I'm not on their team right now. At rehearsal practice (dammit, I always do that!) recently, someone was telling me how she was "pulling an Erica" because she was going to do two races three weeks apart.

(Of course, she was doing a HALF and then a full, not two fulls, but you know, we can't all be rockstars... :)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Run, RDB, Run. Run. Run?

Hey there, remember how I always said I was going to run a marathon, and then 11 or so months ago I signed up for Team in Training and started running and then at the end of February I actually ran a marathon? Of course you do; I hardly talked about anything else for a couple of months back there. That was the New Orleans marathon on 2/28/10 and my post-run post (ha ha) is here, for your review if you so desire :)

And then, remember how that crazy thing happened where I became close friends with this guy who was running the L.A. Marathon three weeks later and so I ended up running that marathon also, with him? That was on 3/21/10 and the p-r p is here.

Well, I didn't tell you this, but a couple of months later... yeah, I ran another one. On 6/12/10 I ran the Bear Lake Marathon in Utah, again with L.A. Marathon guy and a few friends. We rented a lake house and all went out there to walk this half-marathon together, except somehow two of us ended up doing the full and not so much of that walking thing either. I hadn't trained AT ALL. And it was raining, and cold, and windy, and uphill, and for the most part, pretty miserable. And, you know, AT ALTITUDE. Anyway, anything for friends, right? It was a wonderful weekend, truly.

Well, now, here's where it gets crazy: I'm about to do another one.

See, back in February when everyone on my team was getting excited about L.A. and stuff, we all talked about the NYC marathon and how it's the best one ever and blah blah blah, and so many people want to run it every year that they have this big lottery system to get in. So we all put in for the lottery, and not one of us got a spot. Oh well. Really, I got into this planning to do ONE marathon. Ever.

After #2, I said that was it. After #3, I swore that was it!

And then over the summer I got email from an amazing charity called The Blue Card, asking me to please join their team for New York. THEY CONTACTED ME AND GAVE ME A SPOT IN NYC!! And the charity? 100% of donations go to the care of Holocaust survivors who are in bad health, or have no surviving family, or are destitute for whatever reason.

Really, could I possibly have said No? Really?


So: on 11/7/10 I will run my fourth marathon of the year (and of my life). I fully expect it will be my last*. I am indeed raising money for another incredible cause, and donations of any size (and I mean that) are incredibly truly appreciated. Go to The Blue Card homepage, click on the Make a Donation link on the top right, and mention my name anywhere in the comments. And come out and support me in my first East Coast marathon!! By all accounts, it's a NYC event not to be missed - thousands of runners, thousands of spectators, a huge five-borough celebration of health and life and stamina and triumph. I'd loooooooove to see you out there!!

N.B. to many of the people who have already donated in my honor: I am way behind on my thank you notes, but THANK YOU SO MUCH and the note is coming, I promise :)

* (at least, until the next one)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Come see me dance! Jerusalem Soul 10/9/10

My dance company, the Keshet Chaim Dance Ensemble, has an AWESOME show coming up and if you're anywhere near Los Angeles, you should make it your business to attend!!

It'll be:


Keshet Chaim, including ME!!

the Agape Choir... basically, it's an amazing lineup.

Saturday night, October 9th at 8:30pm
at the Ford Amphitheatre, (across from the Hollywood Bowl).

You can look at the seating chart and get tickets online, or if you know me in Real Life(TM), give me a check or cash and I'll get you 10% off whichever section you want to sit in!!


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thai Foid

Ok, this needs to be clarified: in my last post (go read it if you haven't already, I'll wait here), that whole thing about not going three whole hours without eating? OF COURSE I go three hours without eating during a day - like when I'm at work, or dancing, or whatever. The key part I failed to mention is that the pills have to be REFRIGERATED (and taken at roughly the same time of day each time), so I can't throw them in my bag and bring them to work/dancing/whatever with me. They're in the fridge at home, and I'm just not both home and awake for three hours in a row without eating. See? Big difference.

Still pathetic, I know. I know.

Anyway, I did it! Tonight was the last one, and I didn't even need to set any alarm clocks or take any in the middle of the night to make it happen - I just took it, and if I want to eat again tonight I have to wait an hour. And it's nearly 12:30am, so clearly I should just go to bed...

But I'm huuuuungry!! I haven't eaten in like 4 whole hours!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Wow, is this sad:

So, I'm going on a trip to India next month (!!!) and so I got a few vaccinations already. For typhoid, the doctor recommended a vaccine in pill form instead of a shot. I have four pills, and I have to take one every other day. Here's why I haven't taken them yet, even though I've had them for weeks now:

You have to take them on an empty stomach, which they say means 1 hour before eating a meal or 2 hours after eating a meal. Which means either right when I wake up, I could take one and then not eat any breakfast or anything for an hour, or I could finish eating for the day, wait two hours, take the pill and go to bed, OR I could just find a 3-hour window in the middle of the day in which I don't eat.

These are impossible scenarios. I have always just eaten or am about to eat. THREE WHOLE HOURS? I can't seem to make it happen.

This is ridiculous, no?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Things I'm Going To Do This Year

My primary workplace is about 13 miles from my house. I will be able to, and will, bike to work by the end of this (school) year.

First step: I need to buy a bike.

Stay tuned!

Friday, August 27, 2010

There goes the bride; Or, RDB loves lists.

So I was out at dinner last night with some friends and one was talking about how she is the maid of honor for an upcoming wedding. She's helping with the bridal shower and the bachelorette party and all that, despite having never been to a wedding before.

Never been to a wedding before! I couldn't believe it. I told her I've probably been to 20 weddings already. I mean, yes, I'm older than she is, but not thaaaat much older! Anyway, driving home tonight I wanted to see if I could actually think of 20 weddings I've been to. I could only think of 13 in the car, but now that I'm really thinking about it:

Family weddings:
1. Uncle Lance & Aunt Vicki (my first, and I was a flower girl! I was 7 or so.)
2. Susan & Joel (my cousin. They're divorced now.)
3. Dad & Aliza (yay!)

College/Boston friends:
4. Sat Jiwan & Mimi (my ex-boyfriend)
5. Liora & Adam (my roommates!)
6. Jeff & Mary
7. Rachel & Andrew
8. Elena & (now divorced)
9. Sarah & Dan
10. Debbie & Darin (I can remember the bachelorette party, but not the wedding itself yet... weird...)
11. Larry & Rachael

Other friends:
12. Kat & Ron (my bff. I was a bridesmaid.)
13. Fran & Sharon
14. Emily & Ian (Also divorced.)
15. Eugene & Robin
16. Bikem & ? (I only got to go to this because it took place in Turkey when I happened to be there with my dance company. I don't remember his name, and they are divorced now. But it was an AWESOME wedding!)

California weddings:
17. Shira & Noam (performed at it - does that count?)
18. Elon & Sharon (performed at it - does that count?)
19. William & Iris
20. Alisha & Dave

I am SURE that I must have forgotten some... but I guessed 20 and I've come up with 20. Could I possibly have been exactly right?? Weird.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hey there, me:

"It gets to the point where I don't email someone for fear of reminding them that they emailed me and thus giving them a reason to be disappointed in me."

This is why I'll never be an adult.

(While you're there, you can also read about how I'm wrong every time I say "there's no such word as alot".)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010

Partially redeemed; Or, at least I have my moments

I just received an email from a colleague here that begins as follows:

"Congratulations on being the nicest person ever."

Let's be honest: if you know me well you know that I can, at times, be an uberbitch, so that was seriously, seriously nice to hear.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Unexpected Accomplishments

I might be my most favorite self while I'm away working at sleepaway camp. I mean, not all of the time, because I definitely get very cranky at times, and overwhelmed and overtired, and mid-summer slump hits me like everyone else, and I definitely ignore the outside world to a both dangerous and impolite degree. But, during the days at camp, and in those in-between moments when I'm not teaching... I do some good stuff sometimes.

Today was one of those days, days one should have at camp, filled with unexpected accomplishments. In sitting down to write about it, I just re-read my other blog posts with the "camp" label from past years and I really like the girl who wrote them. I wish I saw her more often. Go ahead, read or skim through them; I'll wait here.

...or here, I'll point out some of my personal favorites.

Anyway, today I finally, finally went for a run. I ran the High Road, a road that goes around camp and is, you know, high up. (A new post on running is sorely needed and coming soon, btw.) And then I went and taught some dances, of course. And then, instead of going back to my room to shower as planned, I went and did yoga with a small group of other staff members, outside in one of the most beautiful spots in camp. And then I taught some dances, of course. And then during free-choice-activity time, instead of going back to my room to shower as planned, I climbed the rock wall! For the first time ever!! I made it to the top! Of course, this was unplanned so there are no pictures, and of course, I wasn't mentally prepared for it so I didn't exactly do a perfect or graceful job of it... but I climbed the wall! To the top! Yay for camp!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Where can I get me some of those?

So I'm reading Bram Stoker's Dracula and enjoying it tremendously, not really having had any idea what it would be like. The format is fun, the prose is great, and I love the fact that I'm only partway through the book and everything I already thought myself to have known about the story is already done with, so that the rest of the plot will be a surprise to me. But can anything really top this line that I read today? I think not:

"Doctor, you don't know what it is to doubt everything, even yourself. No, you don't, you couldn't with eyebrows like yours."

So fantastic.

PS If you're an Israeli folkdancer, this will doubtless put you in mind of a certain famous choreographer. He is not generally how I imagined Van Helsing to look, and I'm trying to keep his image out of my mind for the rest of the book, but it is pretty funny, isn't it?

PPS It's always "Bram Stoker's Dracula" since the movie, eh? Why didn't I just write "Dracula, by Bram Stoker", like I would have done about any other book?

Friday, June 4, 2010

86 songs, 5.4 hours, 346.9 MB

Ok, remember how I ran these coupla marathons and said that I'd post my iPod music playlist and never did it? So, a coupla months later and a week before I walk a half-marathon with a group of friends (some of whom I haven't met yet) (except one might end up not walking at all, and one might do the full instead of the half, and honestly if we aren't doing it together then I'm gonna wanna run instead of walk and in that case, why do only a half? Please, someone stop me from running my third marathon next week!!)... what was I saying? Oh yeah, here's the playlist.

If I were to do a marathon right now, a few songs would be added immediately to the list: Gaga's Alejandro, and a couple of Mumford and Sons songs, especially "Little Lion Man", to which I've linked so you can listen to it incessantly, like I've been doing.

Ok, five+ hours of music to run to, if you're me... plus occasional commentary.

This is very nearly the list I ran to in New Orleans, but with modifications made for Los Angeles.

We start out with a bunch of silly KIIS FM-style stuff, songs with a great beat and which I can sing along to in a totally mindless manner, without really paying attention to it:

Bad Romance / Lady GaGa
Paparazzi / Lady GaGa
Hard feat Young Jeezy / Rihanna
Whatcha Say / Jason Derulo
Scared Of Lonely / Beyoncé
Sweet Dreams / Beyonce
Empire State of Mind (feat. Alicia Keys) / Jay-Z
American Boy (Radio Edit w/ Kanye) / Estelle
Halo / Beyonce
Human / The Killers ["Are we human, or are we dancer?" How can I not love this song?]
Carry Out / Timbaland

Then, the more meaningful stuff starts. The next two songs are from the video "Running to Tyler", more inspiration to run to beat cancer.
If Everyone Cared / Nickelback
Chasing Cars / Snow Patrol

Then a few more good-beat mostly-mindless songs.
Baby Boy (Ft. Sean Paul) / Beyonce
Crazy in Love (ft. Jay-Z) / Beyonce
Naughty Girl / Beyonce
Lucifer / Jay Z [LOVE this song. Thank you, Alex Garry.]
Kick Push / Lupe Fiasco [LOVE this song. Thank you, Laura Katz.]
Independent Women (Part 1) / Destiny's Child
Lose Yourself / Eminem

Now the really meaningful and personal choices. Great stuff, great run. (Oh man, so much '80s stuff! What can I say?)
Lighten Up / The Beastie Boys
Fast As I Can / Erin McKeown [One of my favorite songs ever.]
Ooh Child Things Are Gonna Get Easier / The Five Stairsteps
Baby's Got Sauce / G Love and Special Sauce
Mr Brownstone / Guns N' Roses [One of the BEST moments of the NoLA run!]
The Girl From Ipanema / Stan Getz & Astrud Gilberto [My favorite song ever]
Physical / Olivia Newton John
Hit Me With Your Best Shot / Pat Benatar
Hey Mickey / Toni Basil
Because The Night / 10,000 Maniacs
She Said She Said / The Beatles [My favorite Beatles song]
Birchovot Paris / Yair Ziv [The only Israeli song!!]
Rock the Cradle of Love / Billy Idol
Fighter / Christina Aguilera [This song, with its specific lyrics, came on at precisely the right moment in NoLA, given what I was passing at that moment... serious serendipity.]
Laid / James
Mighty Quinn / Manfred Mann
Girlfriend / Matthew Sweet
The Way You Make Me Feel / Michael Jackson [Sexiest MJ song]
Porch / Pearl Jam
7 / Prince
Belleville Rendez-vous (French) / The Triplets of Belleville
Cantaloop / Us3
Livin on a Prayer / Bon Jovi
Gett Off / Prince
It Feels So Good / Sonique
You Give Love A Bad Name / Bon Jovi

Now, 30 minutes of pure soul-lifting Revelations joy!!
I Been Buked / Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel / Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Fix Me Jesus / Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Processional / Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Honor, Honor / Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Wade In The Water / Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
I Wanna Be Ready / Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Sinner Man / Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
The Day Is Past And Gone / Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
You May Run On / Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Rocka My Soul In The Bosom Of Abraham / Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

We Built This City / Jefferson Starship
We Belong / Pat Benatar
Aqualung / Jethro Tull
Dancing In Heaven (Orbital Be-Bop) / Q-Feel
Embryonic Journey / Jefferson Airplane
Eye of the Tiger / Survivor <--- of course!
I Feel Free / Eric Clapton
Informer / Snow
My Sharona / The Knack
Where did you sleep last night / Nirvana
Killing In The Name Of / Rage Against The Machine
Youth Gone Wild / Skid Row
18 And Life / Skid Row
Home Sweet Home / Motley Crue
Non je ne regrette rien / Edith Piaf
Somebody To Love / Jefferson Airplane
Piece Of My Heart / Janis Joplin
Nights In White Satin / The Moody Blues [Not at all a running song, but how could I not? Breathe Deep.]
Untouchable Face / Ani DiFranco
Crucify / Tori Amos
Standing Outside a Broken Phonebooth / Primitive Radio Gods
White Rabbit / Jefferson Airplane
Baba O'Reilly [Live] / The Who **SUCH A GOOD RUNNING SONG**
Blister In The Sun / Violent Femmes
Danger Zone (Top Gun) / Kenny Loggins
Expression / Salt N' Pepa
Here Comes The Rain Again / Eurythmics
La Isla Bonita / Madonna
Maniac (Flashdance) / Michael Sembello

It's been interesting to make this list, because it's clearly not a list of just my favorite songs - most of my really favorite songs are soulful and moody and not at all fit for spurring on an exhausted runner. No Joni Mitchell? Barely any Tori, Ani, Regina? No Simon and Garfunkel or Arlo Guthrie? Just not running stuff, as much as I may love it.

I also have a 3-hour California mix I love, and since I was going to be running the streets of Los Angeles, I had trouble resisting the urge to dump a bunch of L.A.-themed stuff in there. I mean, how funny to be listening to "Nobody walks in L.A.", right? Still, most of that stuff isn't runny, so it wasn't for the marathon. That's a different playlist.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

It would be the last unicorn that came to Molly Grue.

Oh hey there, blog-I-used-to-blog-in. Where you been these last couple months?

Let's see: a visit to New York to spend Passover with my family, to Boston to be the guest teacher at a special mostly-couples Israeli dance night at MIT, to New Hampshire to spend time with friends on the farm. That was in April. As was an amazingly fun afternoon at Santa Anita Park with a friend - we came in knowing NOTHING about betting on horses and left, a few $1-hot-dogs and $1-beers later, having HIT THE TRIFECTA. Freakin amazing day. Also, the LA Times Festival of Books which is even cooler when you know an author and get to hang out in the VIP lounge!

In May, to the DC area to see old college friends, to teach a dance at the Israeli dance session in Rockville, MD, to pretend to still be nearly-college-age with my wonderful friend Lila. I saw some great stuff at the Hammer museum (I'd like to own a painting by Friedrich Kunath. Know how to make that happen for me?) and got to hear the amazing Superdevoice Balkan Women's Choir in the courtyard there. A Friday night Jazz at LACMA, some time (not enough) at JPL's annual Open House which I've been trying to get to for the five years I've lived here, and I straightened my hair. I look very different... and I'm pretty damn happy about that.

And aside from that, been spending a lot of time in my usual spring mental space - that limbo as school ends and before camp begins in which I wander, every year, wondering if I'm making good choices about how to live my life and how to spend my time and what changes I should make for next year, ya-dah ya-dah.

And what have you been up to lately?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

This is why.

Yes, I ran another marathon. It was amazing, and I'll have the details for you soon. For now, instead, here's why I did it. Please read.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

26.2 times 2

So, I'm running the Los Angeles Marathon in a few days (yeahhhhhhhhh!!). Yes, I did just run my first marathon less than 3 weeks ago! If you would like to let me know how fantastically bad-ass you think I am, there are many ways you can do that. Choose one OR MORE of the following options:

0. Donate to my fundraising page! The whole reason I got into this crazy thing was to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. It's only a few days from race day, pleeeeeeeeease contribute now! Any amount helps - really. I so appreciate it. [All of those links take you to http://pages.teamintraining.org/los/mardigra10/erica] Thank you!

1. Come cheer for me at the race! Here is the marathon spectator guide with all kinds of info about the course and where the block parties are, where entertainment (Taiko drummers at Mile 3!) will be, and transportation and road closure information. If you are somewhere along the course and bring a sign or small edible offering, I will love you forever, but I won't stop and chat for more than a second. If you are at the finish line, it may be difficult to find each other, but I'll be able to actually talk to you and not just wave as I go by. I did my other marathon in about 5 hours, so it's reasonable to assume this one will be similar, although there are other factors that may change that. For one thing, I'm running with my team, Team Curly-Hair, so I alone will not be determining the pace. After I cross the finish line, I go into a runners-only zone for a few minutes to collect my medal and things, but then I can go to the Family Meet-Up area (I'll be in the "G" area, unless I'm with my team in the "S" area...) to find you - so let me know if you'll be there!

2. Get live updates about my progress by going to this race-tracker website and signing up your phone number or email address. They'll send a message when I've crossed the 10km mark, the half-marathon mark, etc. (You have to sign up for this BEFORE the day of the race itself.) If you'll be on the course, you can use that info to judge when I should be nearing your location (a full marathon is about 42 km). The race starts at 7:24am but I have no idea when I'll start running; I definitely won't be in the first few waves so it may be after 8 before I actually start.

If you're going to be at the finish line, read this info about the Finish Line Festival... and bring me some chocolate milk :)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then...

In the pre-race dawn of last Sunday morning, my fellow teammates and I were huddled in a small pack awaiting the start of the run and trying desperately to keep from freezing. I was wearing leg-warmers; a teammate said to me, "Only a dancer would wear those to a race!"

In the post-race sunshine of last Sunday afternoon, my fellow teammates and I were stretched out on the grass, enjoying having finished our runs. I complained about having broken a fingernail; a teammate said to me, "How did you break a nail? You're a runner!"

Delighted. I was delighted at both of these moments, at both of these labels. But why? With the families at the camp I taught at this weekend, we discussed the labels we place on one another. With some of my high school students, we talked about the labels we place on ourselves. Tonight at the temple where I teach, I asked the students about what they are rather than who they are... it's been on my mind.

First of all, why did those labels delight me? I teach dance for a living; in fact, I make my living exclusively by teaching dance. In my spare time, I often go dancing just for fun, and I'm a member of a performing dance company, so I spend lots of time rehearsing and performing. I've choreographed for big shows, like one last year at the Kodak Theater, a show which included performances by the Idan Raichel Project, Rami Kleinstein, and Achinioam Nini (these are huge names on the Israeli music scene, if you don't happen to be steeped in Israeli culture!). I freakin competed in the International Golden Karagoz Folk Dances Competition in Turkey in 2003. I'm clearly a dancer. And yet...

And yet for some reason, I hesitate before calling myself a dancer, thinking I don't quite deserve the title.

I have run 180 miles in the past four months, I completed my first marathon a week and a half ago and I'm going to run my second in another week and a half. And yet.

And yet for some reason I hesitate before calling myself a runner, thinking I don't quite deserve the title.

If I were one of my students, I would tell me unhesitatingly: if you do it, you are it. And you can be many things at once.

In fact, I tell them that all the time. If you dance, you are a dancer. You may not be the best dancer, or a professional dancer, but that has nothing at all to do with the fact of being a dancer or not. If you sing, you're a singer (even if you're tone-deaf like me). If you run, you're a runner: there's no per-week mileage requirement for some magical exclusive club.

The other side of this coin that I stress heavily when talking to my kids is that you aren't *just* any one thing, and that there is a danger in the limiting we do when we say we can't do something because we aren't something. Oh, I'm not an artist, one says, shaking one's hand and one's head and taking a step backwards. Oh, I don't sing. Always that same wave of the hand, the same step backward.

You do it by doing it, I've been telling them lately. You do it by doing it, I've been telling myself lately.

Some kids already knew a dance I was teaching the other day, so I had those students demonstrate with me - more feet for the other students to watch, plus the room was too small for one circle anyway, so it worked out best to pull out some of the kids. "Watch how they do this thing," I told the others. "Try it like that."
"But they're dancers," objected some of the others.
"So are you," I responded.

But they didn't believe me. You do it by doing it, I've been saying.

I see them being afraid to try things they aren't already good at. How are you supposed to become good at it if you don't try? I ask. The more you do it, the better you'll be at it. You know how you become a fast reader? By reading. You know how you become a good runner? By running. As another local dance teacher would say, to great comic effect: Practice makes...

How can I, but I can't, but I'm not...
You do it by doing it, I've been telling them lately. You do it by doing it, I've been telling myself lately.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Lies, damned lies, and... you know

Remember how this blog used to be about something besides running? Ahh, the good old days. Perhaps after I run the L.A. Marathon on March 21, I'll get back to the old navel-gazing and poetic-waxing and snarkiness-posting. But for now...

So, I ran my race in 4 hours, 50 minutes, and 59 seconds.
The fastest man finished in 2:22:31 and the fastest woman in 2:46:06.

There were 3515 finishers (of the FULL marathon; another 9311 finished the half!): 1959 of them male and 1556 female. Overall, I came in 2260th place and 840th among the women. Humbling. However, the overall average time was 4:35:52 so I was only a little behind that, and even better, the average female time was 4:51:36 - HOORAY, I AM ALMOST PERFECTLY AVERAGE!! (Believe that and it's clear we've never actually met.)
The longest time was 7:29:50. I kicked that chick's ASS :)

I was bib number 16176, which I liked because it was the start of a Boston phone number: 1-617-...
Total miles I ran in training prior to the marathon (since 10/31/09): 153

You can actually watch video of me finishing!! Click here and enter bib number 16176. I'm the first one across in the "finish" video, and I'm 3rd or 4th, against the far side fence, in the "before finish" video!!

Here are my mile splits (I know you were DYING for this info!!)
Mile / Time
1. 10.25 (so crowded!)
2. 9.35 (fastest mile - I was so hyper at this point I was forcing myself to walk my walk intervals and not just run through them...)
3. 10.08 (5K time: 31:08)
4. 10.05
5. 10.35
6. 10.02 (10K time: 1:02:50)
7. 10.04
8. 10.35
9. 10.18
10. 10.27
11. 10.58
12. 10.45
13. 11.11 (Half-marathon time: 2:16:17)
14. 11.27
15. 11.23
16. 11.32
17. 11.36
18. 11.47
19. 11.23
20. 11.55
21. 11.39
22. 12.18 (Slowest mile)
23. 12.00
24. 12.05
25. 12.15
26. 12.10
Average: 11.06

Next up: my five-hour iPod playlist! I listened to music the whole time I ran and it was wooooonderful!!

All the stats are from this website here.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Rejoice, we conquer.

Well, I did it! I ran 26.2 miles, and I raised $4,985.17 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It's been quite an experience.

Running this marathon really was an amazing experience. Before I started training in November, I think I had never run more than four miles at a time. I remember being scared of the week we were supposed to do five miles. I remember being terrified of the jump to eight miles. Then double digits!! Yet a couple of weeks ago, I literally said the phrase "only ten miles". ONLY! This has been a huge lesson for me in how possible the seemingly-impossible can be, and how much a like-minded community and the support from the people in my life can make all the difference in the world. My goal was to finish the marathon in under five hours, and I did it in 4:50. It was a gorgeous day in New Orleans, and I felt totally prepared and ready. Many of the miles flew by, and it didn't get hard until well past the halfway mark. When I started to get very tired and things began to hurt, I thought of all of the people that donated and it was like this huge crowd of (nearly 100!) people was behind me pushing me on. I finished strong and very, very happy.

Here are a couple of favorite moments from the 5 hours on my feet:

I ran past a woman who was saying to her friend, "Boxers can be pretty rambunctious too." A mile or two later, I realized she was referring to the dog, not the undershort.

The morning of the race, we had to meet in the lobby of the hotel at 4am. My mom and I step into the elevator to an overwhelming odor of athlete... pre-exercise athlete, not post (thank god).
"Well, good morning!" says Mom.
"That Vicks VapoRub will always wake you up!" says someone squeezed in the back.
"Oh! says a woman by the door. "I was wondering why it was getting mintier and mintier in here!"

I loved all the signs and posters people were holding or had posted along the course. Some were hilarious. My favorite was the one I passed at about mile 8: "You can stop running now; the Kenyans have already won!"

If you or anyone you know wanted to donate but never got around to it, there's still time to donate here. In fact, if I raise a little bit more money, I get some good swag :)

And now my craziest news: now that I've done this ridiculous thing, I'm going to do it again!! I'm running the L.A. Marathon in less than 3 weeks. If you want to come out and cheer for me on 3/21, I'd be deliiiiiiiighted! Let me know and I'll give you the heads up on what to look for so you can spot me and how to track my progress!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

"Pheidippides" Robert Browning, 1879

So, when Persia was dust, all cried, "To Acropolis!

Run, Pheidippides, one race more! the meed is thy due!

Athens is saved, thank Pan, go shout!" He flung down his shield

Ran like fire once more: and the space 'twixt the fennel-field

And Athens was stubble again, a field which a fire runs through,

Till in he broke: "Rejoice, we conquer!" Like wine through clay,

Joy in his blood bursting his heart, - the bliss!

4 hours, 50 minutes

Saturday, February 27, 2010

_Decline and Fall_ , Evelyn Waugh, 1928

"Frankly," said the Doctor, "I am at a loss to understand my own emotions. I can think of no entertainment that fills me with greater detestation than a display of competitive athletics, none--except possibly folk dancing."

9 hours

Friday, February 26, 2010

_The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner_ Alan Sillitoe, 1959

"Off like the wind along the cobbled footpath and rutted lane, smoother than the flat grass track on the field and better for thinking because it's not too smooth, and I was in my element that afternoon knowing that nobody could beat me at running but intending to beat myself before the day was over."

31 hours

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What's up? A minor rant in the key of tired.

This is maybe the busiest week of my life. I haven't had a single day off in weeks and weeks, and my first one will be this Saturday, when I will leave the Jewish Educators' Conference I'm attending to run 20 miles and then go back to the conference. It'll be another full week before I get another "slow" day. This week, in addition to my multiple other jobs and appointments, I'm basically running 5 Israeli dance sessions in 8 days.

I'd love to write a real post, but I'm exhausted. In the meantime, thank you so much if you have donated to my fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and if you haven't donated yet but are still considering it, please donate to me on my friend Brandon's page. Please. You get double the appreciation!

Thank you.

Friday, February 5, 2010

DFW, JDS. RIP. l,l,l, RDB

Right before J D Salinger died, I tweeted about still mourning the loss of David Foster Wallace. With JDS, though, the probability of reading more stuff he wrote *increases* with his death, while with DFW it's the other way 'round. Still, the silence is deafening.

And I just re-read Franny and Zooey, on the occasion of recommending it to a friend, and finally read both The Way of a Pilgrim and The Pilgrim Continues His Way.

And just happened across my own posting of the Spot-the-Salinger game we used to play. Read it.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Wishlist Blast from the Past

So I have this wishlist on amazon.com, right? And even though hardly anyone ever uses it to buy me something, it's a great list to remind myself of things I want (I can look at it when I'm browsing in a used bookstore, for example). I try to keep it updated, so every once in a while I'll look through it and remove a few books that I have acquired since adding them to the list or, more rarely but still sometimes, I'll remove something I no longer want.

Just now, I removed a VHS tape I had on there. I mean, I still wouldn't mind owning a copy of Casablanca, but on VHS??!! Ha!! I apparently added that to the list in 1999. Maybe I should have left it on there for posterity.

Ah, the good ole days. And ten years - see what a dedicated Amazon user I am?!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Irresistible Henry House

I sometimes get advance copies of books to review, through the Early Reviewers program over at LibraryThing.

The books I've received this way were all pretty good and pretty much my style, but the one I read most recently was way beyond that - it was terrific. The Irresistible Henry House, by Lisa Grunwald and scheduled to be published in March, is a fantastic story that would appear to be totally whimsical and yet is based on a true practice: Henry is a "practice baby" supplied to a college home economics class by a local orphanage and raised by seven or so different "mothers" who are students in the course. As it turns out, the story is indeed irresistible - Henry is compelling, his life story is fascinating, and the historical background of the 1940s-1970s in which the book takes place is brightly illuminated. Many small differences between daily life then and now added a fascinating sepia-tint to the landscape of the story, and the novelty of now-common icons of popular culture (some new thing Disney is working on down in Florida? some movie that new band the Beatles are making?) brought the era to life in a wonderful way, especially to someone who didn't live through it. (And I'm pretty sure anyone who did live through it will love the nostalgia of this recent history also.)

I recommend it.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Well, I ran 12 miles a couple of weeks ago, and it was brutal. I mean, it felt fantastic to have done TWELVE MILES, but it was on a very hilly course (by design) and it was haaaaard. Took us 2 hours and 15 minutes.

And then I didn't do squat, running-wise, for nearly two weeks.
On Thursday I did four miles on my own, around my neighborhood. Here's the playlist:
NPR: 10-17-2009 Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!

And then this morning, I ran...
wait for it...

FOURTEEN MILES!!! Yeah, baby, 14. For cancer research. 2 hours 25 minutes!!! Oh, that's more than a half-marathon? No sweat!

(Ok, lots of sweat. It was HOT today! I love L.A. I definitely needed that dose of Vitamin D or whatever Vitamin Sunlight is.)

Aaaaaaaand I forgot my knee brace at home, so I ran without it, and it didn't hurt at all! Until I stopped running. Then I was in screaming pain. Literally. Ouch.

But it's ok now. Oh, I have a show tomorrow? I'm sure I'll be able to walk by then :)