Thursday, September 23, 2010

CIM 2011

One of the hardest things about my move last year was missing the California International Marathon. Granted I might not have run it if I was home — I was still coming off an injury — but at least I would have had the option.

This year I decided to go a head and train to run it and Chad is doing it with me. What could be better?

I get a trip home to see the fam.
Chad gets to come.
All you can eat pasta for 2.5 days.
Running with my favorite running buddy and BFF.
Singing Christmas Tree week.

Come on. Can you say "AWESOME."

So we're about 6 weeks into training. I'm coming to terms with it being fall, but I'm realizing that winter is quickly approaching and that could make for some interesting runs. It's cold. So I'm trying to figure out what I need to do to stock up on winter running gear. I would love to think that I'm one of those burly runners that can brave the element and brave negative temperature runs with my lungs of steel. I'm not. I break out in hives. I can't talk. I get all coughy and itchy and wheezy. And most recently, with temperatures dipping just below 50 degrees in the morning... I can't breath.
This is not me. appears I may have an allergy to the cold. I thought I was crazy...but it's real.

Thank you Minnesota.

So I've been hanging out with my doc a lot trying to get this madness under control because even if I have to train on a treadmill with an artificial lung. I'm running the CIM this year.

So now I just have to find some chains for my shoes so I don't crack my head on the ice. And some iPod friendly mittens.

12 weeks to go....

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

September blues....

I'm all about fall. The leaves are changing...everything smells like cinnamon and camp fire and in Minnesota you can actually go outside without becoming the blood buffet to 10 million mosquitos.

I hate mosquitoes.

However, and this is a big however, I'm not about fall when it appears suddenly without even giving summer a chance to say goodbye.

I need closure.

One morning I was running and it was 85 degrees at 9 in the morning and I was thinking, "Seriously, I don't know how much longer I can run it this heat." And BAM! the next morning I had long sleeves and ear muffs on.

Each day that it rains...and the wind gets a little bit colder...and the leaves turn another brilliant shade of orange (which I have learned only means it's just a matter of days until they turn to dreary shades of death)...the more I know summer is gone for good.

I should just start unpacking my sweaters and mittens now because it won't be long before I need them.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Adventures at the County Fair

So I write for the paper...and me being the only Californian and a decade younger than everyone else in the newsroom is a dangerous concoction that often results in "let's see if she'll really do it" stories... Here' s my county fair story. Courtesy of the Brainerd Dispatch:

I'm new in town. Well, I've lived here a year, but this summer is my first genuine experience at the Crow Wing County Fair. I guess it would be fair to call me a fair rookie.

Before I ventured out to the county fairgrounds I took some advice from some long-time locals about the must-do's at the fair. Being the adventurous California-native that I am, I thought I'd take them up on their suggestions and really go for it.

The first thing I learned is to check the calendar. It wasn't until I showed up at the fair on Monday afternoon, and found the fairgrounds strangely quiet, that I learned it didn't actually start until Tuesday.

My second attempt was definitely more exciting. The air smells like a mix of cinnamon and sugar and manure depending on which way the wind blows. It actually made me pretty hungry.

One thing I was told I had to try was an Oofda taco. I'm part Scandinavian, and part Latino, so an Oofda taco has to be pretty decent. It turns out you really can fry just about anything and it tastes good.

I had big plans to eat my way through the fair exhibits, but I tapped out pretty early. I did, however, have a glass of ice cold chocolate milk and an elephant ear. Or is it a monster ear? I think it depends on who you ask.

Filling myself with fried sugary goodness forced me to take a break and check out some of the exhibits. I figured the Fine Arts building would be a safe haven. I thought wrong. There are award-winning cookies and breads and candies on display. That's what I call "fine art." If they are looking for judges for the 2011 fair, I am definitely volunteering.

I have to be honest, I'm not typically a farm animal enthusiast. It's nothing against them- I'm just a city girl. Things with hooves tend to intimidate me. I did, however, brave the animal exhibits and made some new fuzzy, and feathery, friends. Except for one baby pig that tried to eat my finger. I survived, but I don't think I'll be hanging out with him again.

After my run in with the livestock, I made my way to the produce exhibit where I found a two-foot-long zucchini. Being a gardener myself, I just want to know how in the world that squash got so big while mine peaked at just a few inches. I tried to find out what the secret is, but nobody seems to want to let me in on it. Give me a few years- I might have my own monster squash at the fair.

Finally, I followed the best advice I received before tackling the fair- don't forget your Fleet Farm T-shirt. I stood in line with dozens of other fairgoers to play the Fleet Farm game. I didn't realize you had prize options. I could have walked away with $5 worth of Fleet Farm cash, but I opted for the shirt. In case you haven't been yet, it's orange this year.

Monday, July 19, 2010

One year later.

Well, it's official. I've lived in Minnesota for one whole year. Ironically, I was in Death Valley on the one year anniversary, but it still counts.

As I get I older, I find it stranger and stranger how time seems to fly by and pass slowly at the same time. I keep having this simultaneous and conflicting thought that "It's already been a year!?/it's only been a year?!" It feels like I've lived a lifetime in the last 12 months, but at the same time, wow, it's flown by.

My feelings on the last year reek of subtle personality disorder...they change from day to day. At moments I've asked myself, "What the heck are you doing here?" I miss my family. I miss my community. I miss real Mexican food. I miss not having to guess what the weather will be like in the middle of July.

In other moments I am keenly aware of how right this is. I have a job that lets me create every single day. I have been given a precious gift in the great friendships I've developed. I've found a purpose I never would have even considered otherwise. I'm learning to love this quirky little community. Who would have thought.

That day I drove away from Sacramento, one year ago, was one of the strangest days of my life. It was like everything that defines me was packed inside my little bug and on its way to being transplanted two time zones away. It's like you could hear the roots being ripped from the ground. It was a little traumatizing, to say the least, but I made it. I'm still me....just maybe a little less definable. Less defined. Strangely less boxed in.

One year later I feel less like I fit than I've ever felt, but I'm totally okay with that. I like me. Which is good because I've gotten to spend a lot of time figuring out who exactly that is. As it turns out I'm a pretty good writer. I can be diplomatic. I'm kind of funny. My wealth of useless knowledge is endlessly entertaining and holy crap I might have a green thumb.

One year later I know that the life I left behind was amazing and fulfilling, but it was only part of the adventure. I'm not ready to be fulfilled. I like the struggle. I like the journey. I like dreaming about what's next and having no idea what that might be. It keeps things exciting.

One year later I'm still a Californian living in Minnesota, but it feels more like home.

One year later...
I stopped drinking bottled water.
I learned to camp.
I'm the driver of an automatic vehicle.
I am published journalist.
I own a sweet bicycle.
I survived near death and actual death of people I love.
I manhandled winter.
I have eaten more chinese food buffet than I ever imagined was possible.
I did not run out of sweaters.
I'm a winter runner.
I grew my hair out again.
I took up vegetarianism.
And then I returned to being a carnivore.
I became a gardener.
I grilled my first rack of ribs.
I survived two tornado warnings...thankfully I didn't see the actual twisters.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Local Yocal.

Aww crap. This is not good. It's June what...FOURTH. School is out for the summer. The weather is beautiful. It's even abnormally amazing for Northern Minnesota this time of year. I should be elated. It's everything I've waited all winter for. And I find myself a bit hostile.

You want to know why? It's because my painfully boring little town in Minnesota is bursting at it's seams with tourists. Cidiots is what we call them. We being everyone else. I refuse to say it because I feel like I'm somehow betraying my urban roots...even though my City is in a completely different time zone.

They are like ants. As soon as the weather turns sweet they overrun the Lakes area and take over the roads, the restaurants, even MY coffee shop (where I don't actually drink coffee) is plagued by a stifling number of urbanites.
It makes me cranky. My 4 minute commute has grown to at least 12 minutes. Ugh. I just want them to take their dumb boats and their eco-unfriendly Escalades and go back to Urbania.

Believe me - I'm shocked by my attitude too. Who would have thought I would be counting the days til winter. Do me a favor, when it starts snowing and I glaze over at the thought of six straight months of ice and snow DO NOT remind me of this moment. I don't need any "I told you so"s.

Counting the days til winter...

I know. I am a walking conundrum.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Holy crap. I spoke to soon.

It's snowing in May. Seriously. Son of a...

Saturday, May 1, 2010

April showers better not bring May snow.

Now that it's May, I guess I should update. Since my last post I have officially survived winter. I deserve a medal. The sun is out most days. I have been wearing shorts for about the last six weeks. I'm still cold most of the time, but as long as there isn't snow on the ground- it's shorts and flip flops for me...even with my ghostly white legs. Whatever. I'm a Mexican. I will be tan in no time. Although I've heard it's harder to build a good base when you're 4,000 miles from the Equator. Crap.

My family was here last month. My brother, the pacifist had one request during his time in Minnesota. He wanted to shoot something. So he and my dad spent 4 hours shooting things (inanimate things) out of the air with Chad and his brothers. And as it turns out. My little brother, THE PACIFIST, is a crack shot. Maybe he should reconsider his conscientious objections.

When the fam got to town the snow was mostly melted, but the lakes were still thawing out. So brother Dan and I decided we would paddle our way out to the sheet of ice in the middle of Chad's parents' lake. It was freezing to say the least. Their time here reiterated to me how lucky my mom is that we did not grow up on a lake.

So, I started a new job. I'm still writing for Causecast, which is still Causecastic. But I am now the newest reporter for the Brainerd Dispatch. Yes, I have launched a career in traditional journalism. I'm the youngest writer LEAST ten years. So that's fun. I really like it. Writing for a small town newspaper. Add that to the list of things I never thought I'd do.
My first feature story is on my friend, Nate's band- Scatteredtrees. Crazy kids are giving their new album away for free. It's too good to pass up if you haven't downloaded it yet..what the heck are you waiting for!? Happy May Day.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Marching On.

Terrible pun. I know. But it seems appropriate now that I can (almost) officially say that I have survived my first "real" winter. The snow is melting quickly. Grass is starting to reappear and we've even seen the sun for a few days. Things like "above freezing" have driven me to wear shorts and flip-flops. They say March is deceptive because often times the sun comes out for a while, the snow melts and it seems like spring has finally arrived. Then the freak snow storm hits. Blizzards in April. That's not cool. I'm hoping for the best but bracing for the worst. My snow shoes are still easily accessible. Just in cases.

Winter actually wasn't as bad as I expected it to be. It helped that LOST returned to television a few weeks ago. AND I have had quite the slough of visitors over the last couple of months. You know that people who will brave arctic conditions to pay a visit really love you. Jason came out at the end of January and we went WAY up north to cheer on our friend, Ray Sanchez, as he completed the ridiculous Arrowhead Ultrathon. Who the heck runs 135 miles in Minnesota? In January. He finished though. And then started making plans for next year. And Jason had his first experience with cold temperatures that can actually kill you. I would tell you what he said about the cold the moment he felt that first blast of breath-taking air...but I'm trying to keep things kid friendly around here.

Marie was here last week. My southern goddess celebrated the second anniversary of her 29th birthday in the frozen tundra. I introduced her to Paul Bunyan. His Ox. She got to harass Chad for a few days. And she got to meet Kara. I have to say that having my southern "person" spend time with my northern "person" was a little scary. There is potential scheming there that I'm not sure I'm comfortable with...I might be too much of a control freak for that.

Ryan and Ben and the girls were here for a few days. Laney is getting big. Buggy is so old. And she loves her Auntie Nels. Sometimes I find it rather hilarious that I'm the one living in Minnesota and Ryan managed to stay put 0n the west coast. It's probably better that way. I miss her terribly, but I don't think Brainerd is ready for the Nels and Ry show. That can only end in someone being incarcerated (probably me) and what could only make a genius script for a made-for-TV movie.

Anyway...there's the recap for the last several weeks of freezing temperatures. It's 36 degrees today. And climbing. Remember a few months ago when I was whining about how COLD is was when it was in the thirties? It's amazing how a few weeks of negative temperatures can completely overhaul perception. I'm afraid to go home in the summer...I might actually melt. appears I might have become an actual Minnesotan.

Well...not according to my driver's license. I'll hold out on that as long as I can.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sunday Drive.

When I get bored bad things happen. Seriously, if in your head, you think, "maybe this is a bad idea", that's probably because IT IS. I, however, have continually ignored that inner voice for the majority of my life. That's probably how I ended up stuck in the middle of a lake today. That's right- I drove my car out on a lake and I got stuck.

I've been on a frozen lake before, but this was my first time driving myself out on to the water. I got about a half a mile out before I started to realize getting back might be tricky. I was right. It was. A nice man with a shovel and a fish house came and rescued me. When I admitted to being an idiot for driving onto the ice all he said was, "Yep". Awesome.

So we got my car dislodged from the middle of the lake snow bank I drove into. I called my mom and told her about my adventure and then my car started overheating. My poor little Jetta. As it turns out snow can get up inside your vehicle and freeze causing the car to overheat. That makes total sense, right? Right!? No, I didn't think so either.

So, four hours after my Sunday drive began I am writing this blog from inside Chad's toasty vehicle while he and his dad brave the elements to set things right for my poor tortured vehicle. I know...I might actually be retarded.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Minnesota Skiiing

I've heard Minnesota skiing is kind of a joke compared to skiing in the Rockies or the Sierras. Actually, I think it's been Minnesotans that have said so. Anyway, for Kara's birthday she wanted to go skiing, so she and her friend Maija and I attacked the mountain...or the hill?

I don't know...I guess it wasn't a real mountain.

The runs were shorter. It was about 3 degrees for most of the freeze your face off cold. It brings a whole new dimension to your mask freezing to your face. No injuries. No helmets. Well, except for my little run in with the ski lift. That might leave a mark.

BUT black diamonds are still black diamonds even if they are quite a bit shorter. It was amazing to hit the slopes and it was a beautiful day. Doesn't get much better than this.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Robert Allen Nelson.

My Grandpa died tonight. They told him he was going to die two years ago. He's a Swede. His quiet but stubborn fight went on far longer than anyone thought it would. Two years ago Grandpa was diagnosed with cancer. Terminal cancer. They gave him six months to live. He quietly accepted his prognosis and fought what doctors said was would be a futile effort.

My grandpa was one of the greatest men I know. He was stoic. He was hard working. He loved his family. He was a first generation American. He was a soldier. He was brilliant. He was quiet. He was witty. He was tender. He was proud.

The only time I ever remember seeing my Grandpa cry was when my Grandma died last year. Seeing them together in her last days was the perfect ending to an amazing love story. She laid in ICU- intubated, in and out of consciousness (until they tried to cut off her wedding ring...then she became VERY conscious). He sat in his wheel chair holding her face in his weakened arthritic hands, telling her how much he loved her. It was a moment I'll always remember.

After my Grandma died, my brother and I found an album of letters my Grandpa had written her while he was serving in Korea. Three years worth of love letters. Some were funny. Some were kind of dirty (we may have caused some permanent damage for my dad). But mostly, they were beautiful. It's like the beginning of our legacy.

Now I know that I'll always cherish them.

It's surreal to feel loss away from my family. I've never done this alone before. It's a whole new element to walking through life's darker moments. As I get older and experience more loss I find myself doing the same things.

Looking for pictures.

Remembering his voice.
Remembering moments.
Laughing at my own inability to process it.

Being away is hard. Distance never feels as far as it does when closing it is the only thing you want.

I saw my Grandpa while I was home a couple of weeks ago. I knew things were bad because for the first time in my life he asked me to help him with something. He was in a ton of pain, but stoic as ever. And that's how he died. He waited until he was alone and then he quietly slipped away. Such a Swede.

I miss you Papa. Thanks for founding the Nelson family legacy. I hope we make you proud. I love you.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Back to the Frozen Tundra.

It's weird when you go home and home doesn't feel like home.

What's even more bizarre is coming back to where you live hoping that might feel more like home and it doesn't. It's like all of the sudden you don't have an anchor. Nothing keeps you centered. Panic sets in. Suddenly you don't know who you are or what identifies you. Deep breath. Brown bag, please.

I don't know why I described that in the second person . I guess it's easier to disassociate myself from that reality. Now I'm laughing. What does that even mean? It's fleeting. I'm going to make it. I think it has something to do with the fact that the landscape is draped in frozen clouds and the temperature outside has not reached about zero since the beginning of the New Year. When a forecast in the teens feels like a heat wave you know something is terribly wrong.

I learned what "Arctic Sun" is today. It's a lie. The Sun is out. It looks like it might be pleasant outside, but it's not. It's freezing. I ran to my car yesterday with no shoes on. Bad idea. The good news is I still have nine toes.

So will I make until the ice melts? Probably. Although, I fairly convinced there may be some bets against me. That's fine. They'll lose their money. I'm too competitive to back down now. I will win. Even with the dumb Arctic Sun.