Runity: Both/And

IMG_0508 (1)You can’t tell by this photo, but it’s melting here. The snow, I mean. Below my shoes is snow and slush, puddles and patches—which means the road is both clear and sneakily icy.

Late January in Wisconsin is a time of both/and. There are sunny days so cold all you can do is scream obscenities through your scarf, and your nose hairs freeze and break, as you waddle the parking lot to your f-uh-fuh-fuh-freezing car.

And there are days like today: a real feel of 42 degrees F. Running requires a single layer of clothing and normal, toothless shoes.

It’s the kind of day you want to push you want to push yourself, linger a while, go fast and far—but you’re also out of shape and edging towards your (dear God) 50s and so you decide a little push is good enough. I took the 3.4 mile route and ran most of it.

Winter running is a spectacle of the beautifully dead. Look at these dried grasses with their big, feathery hats.


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Every drainage ditch is a side show of rustle and ribbonry. The January roadside is festooned — isn’t that just the best word ever, festooned ? Like a festival of balloons!— a parade you never see in spring.

Alive, in spring, when they’re just as green as every other thing, these grasses disappear. It takes the barrenness of winter for them to shine.

I like this time of both/and. Our semester starts next week, and I’m both reluctant to return to teaching and wearing clothes that zip and shoes with heels and showering …well…more often—and excited to dive back into the heady mix of improv and structure that is the classroom. I’m both ready to plunge into a number of important, groundbreaking developments (a new degree program unique within the UW System,  new courses, a teaching press, a super-mega book festival) and wishing I could shut myself in my study to fight with my novel for a few more f*#^@% lousy words.

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I’m both delighted my kids are growing up and can play better card games with me and I can beat them without guilt, and thrilled that they’re hilarious, irreverent, and honest with me— and freaked out at the prospect of two middle school-aged daughters, not very long from now, who will both love their mother (me) and hate their mother (me) in the way of all middle school girls.

On my run, I wore a pink hat to celebrate the Women’s March today, which is both so inspiring and so depressing in its constant timeliness.

And when I got home, I both made a nutritious smoothie full of kale and tofu and coconut milk, and fished a half-eaten cream-filled donut from a bag thrown in the trash. 

Yours in both honesty and vanity, and altogether Runity,