I’ve never seen The Lord of the Rings. I’ve never balanced a spoon on my nose.

Hey! Can I talk a little more about running for a second?

(Actually, it’s going to go deeper than running. Stick with me for a minute or two.)

I go to the lake twice each week for a run. If you run around the lake, you score 5.7 kilometers, meaning The Lake is The Perfect Size.

I tend to park near the blue trashcan across from the canoe rentals, and I travel counterclockwise. This means I spend the first ten minutes or so running between a beach and a road. (In my opinion, this is the ugliest part of the path.)

Wait. So, here is the ugliest part of the lake. And it’s gorgeous. And I don’t even USE the word gorgeous.

Creve Coeur Lake

(I took that photo today while trying to figure out how to do the panorama thing on my phone.)

When I reach the first bridge, I know the roughest part of the run is over. (The first ten minutes always suck. I spend every one of those minutes trying to talk myself into quitting. It’s horrible.) As I pass by trees on the left and soccer fields on the right, I know I’m nearing the halfway point. When I’m surrounded by trees on both sides, the rest is gravy. (AND, by Gravy, I mean I have only three or four more songs before I run under the highway overpass.)

I know I’ve shared this photo before, but just for the sake of taking you with me, THIS is where everything becomes gravy.


(I can’t even look at that photo without getting all smiley and Zen-like.)

As soon as the highway overpass is in sight, I tend to have about two minutes left to run, so I kick it into Haul Ass mode to see how far I can get (normally a tiny bit past the second foot bridge) before the run is over and the cool down begins. But wait. Before we finish out the run, let’s talk about that overpass.

Go here to see what it looks like. When I’m running at the lake, I have to travel under that overpass twice. Every time I’m running or walking under the overpass, I picture a car flying off of the edge and either crashing into me, or crashing into the lake. I wonder how I would handle either dying or having to jerk into disaster relief mode. I picture myself going up in flames. I picture my family having to deal with me as a sack of broken bones. I think about life insurance. I think about that time when I burned my finger on a pot of cream of asparagus soup and I think about how being burnt from the flames coming off of an exploding car would hurt SO much worse than that soup, and that soup HURT. (The soup incident occurred over two decades ago, and I still flinch when I think of it.)

I’ve probably experienced high doses of semi-irrational fears at least forty times while passing under the overpass. As soon as I’m back into the woods, my fears are extinguished and I’m once again all la la laaaahhhhh because it looks like this:

Someday I'm going to make a sharp right and run like a cheetah into the woods. I'll then camp out for three days, knowing that the nearest Chinese buffet is less than two miles away. Alexander Supertramp.

Last night a four passenger plane fell out of the sky and crashed into the lake. In other words, it doesn’t matter WHERE you are. A car could fall off of a bridge. A plane could fall out of the sky. Wild bears. Hunger Games.

This morning I spent my entire run thinking about the pilot of that plane and his wife and his family and how life can be and often is entirely too short and then I ran a little faster and then I slowed down and when I reached the overpass I was about eighteen items into a mental list I was making of all the things I still haven’t done and some of those things are basic, like “figure out liquid eyeliner” and some of them are a little more substantial, like “stop apologizing for everything.” And then there’s “Paris!” and “Rid your life of Stuff!” and “Pet a dolphin!” and “Make sure your kids are having some fun Every Single Day.”

I’ve never tried yucca chips.

I’ve never written a short story.

I’ve never learned how to cut paper dolls.

I’ve never woken my kids up in the middle of the night just to watch the snow fall.


A plane falls out of the sky, and I’m shaken and stirred. ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

15 thoughts on “I’ve never seen The Lord of the Rings. I’ve never balanced a spoon on my nose.”

  1. I hate it so much when something that is”never going to happen” happens- justifying my worries is not a good thing…..sadly I’ve had a year of that, which I won’t share here but you probably saw some of on Facebook. BUT- I also know that we cannot live our life trying to avoid these things, because there is ultimately nothing you can do to avoid life-and not all of life is grand….. So you say a prayer, hope for the best, treat others well and just keep running’!

  2. Oh Lordy, can I ever relate! Back in ’89 when we had the last really big earthquake in the Bay Area, I passed (and stopped to help) a woman who had been driving across a railroad track at the moment the guard-arm lost all self control and came crashing down across the windshield of her car. This is a road I have continued to drive virtually every time I leave our house. That was more than 20 years ago, and to this day, I send good thoughts in that woman’s direction (She was physically OK at the time, but emotionally a complete wreck) Do I twitch every single time I cross those tracks? Of course I do. And the lengths to which I will go not to be stopped beneath an overpass or bridge are ridiculous. (Everyone around here seems to know at least one someone who had a connection to one of the 13 people who were killed when the overpass collapsed in Oakland during that event. On, around, under — you name it — bad things happen in the vicinity of bridges in an emergency!) I think from now on I will carry an image of that gorgeous (there really is no better word) zenny part of your lakeside run always at the ready in my brain. If I pull it out of my mental imagery file at just the right moment, it may help me ease on by those perilous places with at least a little less irrational angst.

  3. Longtime reader, first time commenter…fellow knitter, & about 2 years into my running journey, love reading your experiences with running and all of the mental & physical facets to it. The mental processing that takes place when I run is what keeps me coming back. You are doing great & your tenacity will pay off. I spent my first year in various states of injury and then this year I’ve completed 2 half-marathons, it’s just a war of attrition on your body. :) anyway, just felt that I should eventually weigh in with how much I enjoy your writing. Keep running & sharing your ruminations pleez!…

  4. Yup…

    I am still doing things on my Life List. I know I need to go in and make some changes to it because there are things on it that I was supposed to do with Chris. I just haven’t been able to look at it. But I still keep trying to do things on that list because. Because. They are things I want to do.

    For every thing you think of that you’re not doing, think of something that you are doing.

  5. Oh wow, that is a scary picture to end that series of zen with. I’m shaken looking at it. There are a lot of “I’ve nevers” in my life, but I hope to tackle some of those in the next few years, mabye. I like t hinking of all the things I’ve already done.

  6. I love biking around that lake. If you look to the left in the swampy area that you took a picture of you can see the trees that the beavers chewed down. In the summer there is a Hawaiian Shaved Ice stand that operates before the big bridge. I’m sorry that the overpass scares you. Every time I pass underneath I marvel at the knowledge that it took to construct it and I want to walk on the catwalk that hangs underneath…

  7. that is too freaky to think about–glad you weren’t mid-run when it happened!

    I made paper dolls with my kids a couple of weeks ago. We drew faces and clothes on them and they were sufficiently entertained for a good hour. My sons dolls were boys and he had me help him draw a dinosaur on each of their t-shirts. T-Rexs, of course. Your girls could make really long doll chains and “dress them up” for Halloween–making a decoration for a window–it’s a good craft idea–including all that little kids love to do–paper folding, using scissors (the highlight of my daughters’ days) and colouring/gluing and using stickers for decoration. Heck, they could go all crazy and paint them.

    Why am I going on and on about paper dolls? I’m sorry. I can’t focus.

    I think I want to go to St. Louis just to visit the lovely lake. That’s a long drive to see a lake.

    The leaves are all falling off the trees right now. We have a really big maple on our front yard so if you look out the front window it looks like it is snowing leaves.

    Happy Friday!

  8. Yeh well, that bridge overpass IS creepy. On the bad side: our part of Cape Ann is an island, and one can get off and on by boat, by helicopter I suppose, or by way of two bridges, one of which is a drawbridge. And yes, the drawbridge did start to go up recently by mistake with a passenger car in the middle of it. So now it is necessary for us to hold up traffic and wait until the way is clear in front of us, then gun it across the bridge. On the good side: my daughters always wanted to swim with dolphins, but it really wasn’t feasible for us to go to Hawaii where that was then possible. But, when they were already grown up, a marina in Connecticut allowed entering the water with its Beluga whales(really dolphins, I think.) We went! We did it! It was extremely wonderful! We sang Rafi’s Baby Beluga in the car all the way there and back!

  9. My daughter forgot to do some of her homework last night, there wasn’t drama or avoidance, she just didn’t go through her list carefully. This morning she was so upset and I wouldn’t fix it with a note to her teacher (she thinks notes from parents to teacher have some sort of magical properties) and I reminded her it was no big deal and she would just turn it in late. It is just a reminder for her to be more careful, life will go on. I see in her all the struggles I have with anxiety, and I am tempted to “give her some perspective” with bad things that really can happen, but luckily i know we just deal with the anxiety, ride it through and see the world didn’t end with late homework. She will gain perspective slowly. I don’t want her to catastrophize (spell check doesn’t like that word) but I feel I have to walk this very narrow line of helping her feel grateful, and feel compassion for those going through legitimately horrible things. Perspective without introducing new things to worry about I guess. So if you figure out a way to know that bad stuff is there, can happen to anyone, yet still calmly get through your day without stressing about the truly small things and can put it in a concise 9 year old friendly format, I’d appreciate it :)

    I feel like I need to write myself a bucket list today. I hope you are feeling less shaken and stirred and enjoying some yucca chips.

  10. Go get a spoon and balance it on the end of your nose now… because I live right where Frankenstorm is going to hit, so I’m guilting you to do the spoon thing for me. By the way, at work I actually do stand around with a spoon balanced on my nose while I wait for my bagel to toast. It’s my way of telling my co-worker “I truly am unbalanced so leave me alone”… and it works

  11. Bear with me as I’m not reading the previous comments before I say this. I was reading your post and following each link to view the lovely photos. And when I saw the overpass, I got a little antsy thinking about how nervous it would make me to run under that. I’m all about imagining the worst case scenario. I had no idea about the crash, and I can’t believe I hadn’t heard. I’m only 90 miles away, and I’m a total news junky. How awful. I feel for the couple and their family, and it’s sad that this freak/random accident somehow confirms these abstract fears we have. Sigh. Life is short and sometimes sad. I’m going to go suffocate my 5 y/o with affection while she watches ANT Farm for the 92nd time. Thanks for sharing this.

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