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Friday, April 14, 2017

My Three Spring Breaks

Teaching at three schools, I had three spring breaks this year. Originally, I thought it would have been better if they all coincided. That way I would have had a full week completely off from work. My husband all along though, said, “It’s better this way.” I heard this so often from him that I grew completely annoyed and finally blurted out, “No it’s not better this way.” But turns out, it was better this way, but I’m just too stubborn to admit that out loud.

It was “better this way,” mainly because during my first week of spring break, after running with a sore throat on that Monday, I rapidly grew more ill. I ended up spending all of my off time during that spring break in bed. And I had big plans too -- with my entire mornings and afternoons off from Monday through Thursday . . . Big disappointment. So, I slept during the day, pretty much all day, then drank down some ghastly tasting medicine and drove off to my evening classes during my first spring break. Oh! All that I missed -- running along mountain trails covered in spring flowers, boosting my mileage up from the month prior . . .

1264139430196807264Smiley_green_alien_sick.svg.med (2)Alas, that was not the case. And as usual with me, with sickness, came depression. I hate being sick. HATE. IT. I don’t even try and fight the depression. I wallow.

That week came and went, and my first spring break was over. I got to the gym a couple of times during the next two weeks. And I also learned some heartfelt news, that a friend of mine, one who played a big part in my youth, was killed in a motorcycle accident not too long after the last time we spoke, THIRTY ONE YEARS AGO. I inadvertently learned of this the day before Old Goat 50.

OldGoat50_logo_blkSo, I went off into the mountains, the weekend before my next spring break, with my friend on my mind, and pitched a single man tent in the Lower Blue Jay Campgrounds for a race that I coordinate the volunteers. The race, as I mentioned above, was Old Goat 50, a race I attempted some years back, but was pulled at mile 41. It was good to get off to the mountains by myself. Well, I wasn’t totally by myself, there’s lots of people camping out the night before -- the timing crew, net control, and some of the drivers. But overall, I was alone, and had an oddly solid sound sleep, like I rarely have, camped out there in the cold. Yes, it’s still cold out here in some parts, especially in the mountains, and especially in the evenings and mornings. But I was warm and cozy in my little tent, air mattress and thick sleeping bag.

SAM_9002Old Goat weekend was rejuvenating. I got back to journal writing. I read a novel by lantern light. I talked to old friends. I met new friends. And I worked with a fantastic bunch of people who made the race a huge success despite some major no-shows (aid station workers, drivers and sweeps among the no-shows).

Anyway, that event got me out of my funk  just in time for my second spring break. That spring break gave me Tuesday and Thursday evenings off. But my illness had returned, just slightly, and I spent much of that extra time relaxing instead of wandering. I think I probably made it to the gym a couple 1264139410153426183Smiley_green_alien_disapointed.svg.medof times, not totally sure, and I’m much too lazy right now to check my records. Depression though had subsided, and that’s definitely a good thing. I’m not a good sick person (because I get depressed), and I’m not a good depressed person (because I don’t care about anything, else I care too much about everything).

I ended that second spring break with a hike to Chiquito Falls with a friend from way back. We met at Hell’s Kitchen, a biker joint along Ortega Highway, then drove into Blue Jay for a hike along Old San Juan, then San Juan. Being the tour guide, I decided to take The Viejo Tie, not remembering that I was added a significant amount to this  “small” hike. The air was wet, and even raining at times. And I didn’t take many pictures (though beautiful it was), because we spent most of the time chatting like not a day had passed since we had last talked in person (which was about ten years ago). So, the land was lush beyond belief. By the time we reached the falls, we were both drenched. The falls amazed us both with the amount of water flowing over those rocks. There’s no snow melt in these mountains. There’s been no heavy rains recently. Must just be coming from the saturated soil. Astounding. (8.37 miles total)

Standing at the top of Chiquito Falls:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I ended the second spring week, with an attempted run down to the harbor. By attempted, I mean, I thought that I’d go for a local run. But as soon as I got out the door, I felt so open and vulnerable, because running is more a personal thing with me, and I’m not used to being out in front of everyone, that I decided to just get out there and wander. Yes, I know, that people aren’t necessarily looking at me when I run through the city. But still, I felt so open and susceptible -- I just didn’t have the heart to run. So, I plugged in my earbuds and headed off to Doheny Beach. From there I walked out to the jetty and snapped some photos of the regular activity out there, fishermen (& women I’m sure), surfers, and walkers. Afterwards, I headed off to the marina, which even before tourist season officially opens, there was plenty of people milling about. There were dozens of folks disembarking off of a commuter boat from Catalina Island. And there were dozens more dining in the waterfront restaurants throughout.

View of surfers from the jetty:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESA Great Blue Heron atop the bait shop on the jetty:SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I walked at a quick pace, and really didn’t mind walking one bit. I recalled fondly, that this was the same route I used to walk my babies in strollers many years ago. There were single strollers, double strollers, sometimes scooters, sometimes bikes. Now, sadly, my oldest pretty much acts like he can’t stand me. And my middle son, though he still likes me, doesn’t recall as fondly as I do all those walks down by the harbor. Fortunately, my little guy (who is only 12 years old), still has that child within, and will even go down there with me (but not on this particular day), and recalls many happy memories down at the marina. I got in a little over 3.5 miles.

During my final spring break (which is this week), I got Monday and Wednesday evenings off, as well as, all day Friday. I can’t even recall what I did with that spare time -- still in a funk. I am coming to realize that I do best with a tightly structured life. None of this willy-nilly, this week has different days off than the next. I recall working this week, as I really do enjoy teaching and all of my students. But I pretty much don’t recall anything after that, except for Wednesday afternoon (that would be the day before yesterday). I had just completely had it with my laziness. So, after laying about on the couch for a couple of hours, I headed out the door and drove off to the closest trails, which are referred to as the Las Ramblas trails. This is the trail system that overlooks San Clemente, Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano. I didn’t get out until 4pm. It was warm, and it was windy. But it was oh so beautiful, the hills overpowered with yellow daisies and yellow mustard plants. I got in four miles that day. And thank God for all those lovely flowers, otherwise my time would have miserable. I feel like I can barely run lately.

There is the story of my three spring breaks. Next week, I’m back to a busy, structured scheduled. I’m looking forward to it.