Posts Tagged ‘hills’

Where Do I Start?

July 25, 2018

First.

Bon soir!

I have not seen my computer for a few days.

My best French friend insisted that we were to travel very lightly to Marseilles and so, no computer.

Also.

No makeup.

What?

I know I felt naked, until I didn’t.

But apparently, ahem, I still look nice without it.

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I think vacation looks pretty good on me.

It didn’t hurt that I have a tan.

Boy.

Do I have a tan.

The above photo was taken early in the evening yesterday on the island of Frioul.  If you look closely in the background you can see the city of Marseilles.  My friend and I took an early evening ferry-boat to Frioul and strolled around it and took photos.

It was such a pretty place, and it would have been great for swimming had we known.

Next time.

But.

Swimming was had!

I had my first dip, then my second, yesterday in the Mediterranean!

Here I am a touch blissed out:

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My hair is all wet, I am sandy, I went for two swims in the Calanque and it was extraordinary.

First, a slight aside, must get back to swimming, being in the water and swimming felt so damn good.  Screw yoga, I think it’s long past time I get back into the pool.

Second.

Wow.

It was so, so, so beautiful.

A calanque is, well, fuck, I’m not sure I can quite describe it, a sort of wild hill area with dry rocky terrain along the coast that stretches from Marseilles to Cassis, there are all these inlets and beaches and coves, it’s a national park in France and frankly I can see why, they are true treasures.

The clanque that we went to was the Calanque of Sormiou.

It was exquisite.

I mean.

So gorgeous.

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This is the view from the top of an hour-long climb through the hills.

I will not mince words.

It was hot.

I was sweaty.

And I was not exactly happy to be climbing so much.

But.

Fuck.

Once I got to the top.

Wow.

I don’t know how high the climb was, and yes, what goes up must come down, we had to climb back out, gratefully the way is paved and if you have a tiny car and balls of steel you can drive in, but we walked, or climbed.

According to my little app on my phone that counts my steps we climbed.

We walked 26,450 steps yesterday.

Which is 12.4 miles.

And.

We climbed 51 floors!

51!

Ooh la la!

My legs.

But again.

It was extraordinarily beautiful and I’m so glad we did it, even if for a second there my friend made me wear a damp towel on my head for a while, she thought I might be getting close to heat stroke.

I guess I was pretty red in the face.

I certainly sweated a lot.

I think I may have actually lost weight this trip, despite the cheese and charcuterie I have eaten here.

I seriously have walked miles and miles and miles each day.

And swam.

Here.

Enough of my prattle.

More pictures of the beauty:

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I mean.

Come on.

It was like being on a movie set.

Except.

Well.

It was totally real.

Stunning beyond words, even now, looking at these photos, I’m like, really, I was just there yesterday?

Swimming in the sea.

It was truly one of the most beautiful moments, that first cool plunge into the ocean, the taste of the salt, so salty, and then popping up from the water and seeing the mountains arising around me.

I was blown away.

I swam far out until I got a little spooked, and then headed back in to let my friend take her turn.

We didn’t want to leave our stuff unattended on the beach, it has a reputation for thievery.

While my friend swam I unfolded the towel filched from the hotel onto the sand, put on more sunblock and lay back enjoying the hot sun, the sound of the water, the people speaking Italian to my right, the couple canoodling in Catalan on my left, and closed my eyes.

It was glorious.

My friend returned with tales of being nibbled on by a fish, which didn’t exactly compel me to get back in the water, but get back in I did.

Only to be flirted with by some gentleman who tried to tell me that I should be concerned about the sharks.

Thanks man, here’s a pointer on flirting with a woman, don’t tell her there might be sharks in the water, all it does is make a lady want to get the fuck out of the water.

I swam off laughing and telling him he was horrible for telling me such a tale.

Another stint of laying on the beach and then my friend and I packed up our things and began the long, arduous walk back.

I won’t lie.

It was hard.

And it was hot.

Very, very, very hot.

But.

I also would be lying if I didn’t say that there was a part of me that was very proud of myself for doing the climb and having a true adventure with my friend.

We made it back to Marseilles alive, had a late lunch, then went to the hotel and freshened up.

That shower, let me tell you, damn good.

After taking some time to rest we headed out to the ferry-boat and our trip to the island of Frioul.

The first photo I posted was from Frioul.

Here are a couple more, it was truly lovely.

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I have to say, the South of France was very special to see.

And I haven’t even told you about Aix-en-Provence or really about Marseille itself, but you know, I have one last day in Paris tomorrow and it’s time I got ready for it.

Bon soir mes amis!

Bon soir!

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Perfection Is Not An Option

April 22, 2015

Well damn it.

Now you tell me.

I wanted to throw in the towel a few times today, and it had a lot to do with wanting perfection.

The great thing?

I wasn’t even aware that I was seeking perfection, that is how ingrained in my being seeing said state is.

I never was nor will I ever be perfect.

I can end up waiting for the day to come and before you know it I will be dead.

But at least I will know why my knees hurt so damn much.

I have Patello-femoral Syndrome.

Yippee!

Gah.

Irritation of the knee cap (my poor Patellas–both the suckers have it, although my left is slightly more out of whack then my right) and the surrounding tissue due to increased compression.  There can be pain around or under the kneecap and sometimes in back of the knee.

Check.

Check.

And check.

Painful activities may include:

Running.

Ayup. Hurts like a bitch to run.

Walking when it is flared up.

Yup again, which is why I finally made the appointment to see my primary doctor, despite visions of knee surgery dancing fearfully though my head.  When the walking got too painful I knew the gig was up.  I am a professional nanny, it’s bad enough when my shoulder flares up from pushing the stroller, not walking is out of the question.

Please.

What else hurts?

Going up and down flights of stairs.

Oh yeah.

Horribly so.

I don’t talk about it, but it sucks, and ironically, which the physical therapist that I worked with today told me, it’s actually worse going down stairs.  And yes, the family I work for has a two story house and steps leading up to the front door as well.  I go up and down those steps more often than I can count.

I did a stair test and she showed me where my knees are pulled out of alignment.

Driving hurts, after a while, but yes it does, and the best, since I live in San Francisco, walking  up or down hills.

Bahahahahaha.

Oh good grief.

What contributes to PFS?

Tight hip or knee muscles; weak hip or knee muscles; flat feet (oh man, have you seen my feet?  Flat as pancakes, thanks dad. Plus my arches fell in my early twenties from all the food service work I was doing waiting tables, catering, bartending, hostessing, cocktail waitressing, expediting food (my best friend and I met at the Essen Haus and amongst many of my “fond” memories of the establishment was her strapping an ice pack to my knee to get me through the night’s shift, with, yes duct tape); and lastly, repetitive or excessive amounts of activity.

Can anyone say bicycling in San Francisco (and Paris and Oakland) for the last 9 years, 5-6 time a week, an average of 12-15 miles per day.

And that’s not including the year I trained and rode the AidsLifeCycle Ride from San Francisco to LA.

I started the training for that November of 2009 and trained every weekend up until the week before the ride in June 2010.

So.

Um.

Yeah.

A LOT of repetitive activity.

And it’s not what you would think, or I would think, it’s not the movement of the knees that the problem.

It’s the sitting in the saddle, the excessive sitting is tightening my hips which have pulled my knees completely out of alignment.

It turns out that not only are my hips extremely tight, they are also excessively weak.

Great.

They’re wide too.

My sister used to joke that our family hips were meant to birth a 10 lb baby without breaking a sweat.

When the physical therapist asked to test my knee strength I was afraid what the pain was going to be like, and was a bit surprised that there wasn’t really pain.

My knees are strong–thank you bicycling.

But my hips, oh, man.

As soon as she started manipulating my hips, my knees started to hurt.

I was shocked.

But I could feel the IT Band (Iliotibial band, which is a tough group of fibers that run along the outside of the thigh, the top part is attached to the glutes and the bottom to  the shin bone just below, yes, you guessed it, the knee) pulling my tight as she moved my hips and tested them for flexibility and strength.

“Your hips are so tight, your knees are going to hurt just from this,” she adjusted me on my back and then showed me a stretch and then had me roll over on my other side.

“Both hips are extraordinarily tight and weak, resist the pressure as I push down,” she said.

It was like a soft pat but I couldn’t hold my leg up as soon as she pushed down on a hip.

I was again shocked.

And also relieved.

There is something that I can do about it, I don’t have to have surgery and I don’t have to stop riding my bicycle.

“You may at some point down the line have to have surgery, but certainly not at this time, there’s a lot of strengthening and stretching to do before that even becomes an issue,” she reassured me as I relayed my mom’s double hip and double knee replacement surgeries.

I also spoke with my mom recently and found out that there is high cholesterol on her side of the family, both she and my grandmother and probably others in the family.

Great.

Well, at least I know it’s not from my diet, which is really quite impeccable, if I do say so myself, though not perfect, since I’m still taking iron supplements like they’re going out-of-town.

I’m wondering what else can fall apart on my body.

Please, hold on a little longer.

I want to have sex again.

I bet that will stretch my hips.

Ha.

The physical therapist gave me sheets of exercises and stretches to be done, not once, not twice, but three times a day, plus icing my knees (where are those frozen peas?) two to three times a day as well.

“When your charges nap, stretch, do the clam shell one especially,” she directed me.

Sure.

Let me just lie down on the floor and do the clam while the mom and dad walk around me on their way to their home office.

I negotiated doing them after work when I got home on my bike, which is not a negotiation, my knees hurt like whiny little bitches by the time the day was done and I knew I had to stretch and strength train.

Good thing no body was around to see me floundering and trying to not cry in frustration doing said clam strengthening exercise–two sets of ten twice a day; the bridge, 2 sets of ten, twice a day; top leg lifts, 2 sets of 10 reps, twice a day; standing squats, two sets of ten twice a day; and then a bunch of hip flexor stretches.

Ugh.

But I did them.

And though I am sore, it’s a good kind of sore and I am grateful to have a solution that is not surgery.

Despite not wanting to do the work, which is always the case, I get to do it anyway.

And if I follow her suggestions,which I am good at doing, following suggestions, I should have no knee pain in a bout a month.

Considering it’s been years now, I’m cool with that.

All Things Challenging

May 4, 2014

I did them today.

I tried on jeans.

I rode my scooter all over the city, day and night.

I went to brunch with ladies.

I told a guy that I like that I was attracted to him and should he want to go out for coffee to let me know.

I blushed.

At the last one, anyhow.

But I did it.

Sigh.

Such relief, doing these things, these challenging things, these silly things that make up being alive.

I feel right alive I do.

The scooter ride back home tonight, glorious, smooth traffic, up and over hills, not Castro, but I did do Church and I cannot relate how amazing that view was coming up over the top of Church Street, the dark bowl of Dolores Park just below me to the thick sprinkling of lights downtown to the drape of white ropes flickering on the Bay Bridge.

Amazing.

Then I remembered the first time I ever took a scooter ride along Lincoln Ave, it was about nine years ago and I was on the back of a friends Vespa heading out to the beach.

Never in a thousand years did I imagine that I would one day be taking the same ride, at night, on my own Vespa.

Nope.

That had not occurred to me to even want.

And yet, there I was flying down the road with the stars ahead, the smell of the ocean pulsing over me, the wind whipping by, on my way home from a long, wonderful, life changing day, in the smallest most wonderful ways, to my little spot by the sea.

I woke up this morning a tiny bit on the cranky side, but put a little breakfast in me and some good coffee, write a few pages, meditated a little, get right with God, and the next thing you know, all feels good in the world, and I can do this.

What ever this is.

The first thing on that list of “this” was to put air in my scooter’s front tire, I planned on riding it out all day long and needed it to be performing at it’s best.

I filled up the tire, wiped down the Vespa with a soft cloth, and checked to see how the gas was holding up–just fine.

I gathered the things for my day, including a bunch of clothes that I was taking to a clothing swap a friend of mine was hosting in the outer Noe Valley neighborhood–off Church Street and 30th.

I just realized, I took my longest scooter ride to date, just getting over there.

I did have it broke down into two legs, I had a pit stop to make in the Inner Sunset, and met up to do the deal at Tart to Tart at 7th and Irving.

I got to sit, have a coffee, shake the crazy out of my head, get some perspective, get encouraged to show up and have a fun time with my friends and maybe even get some clothes.

I had absolutely no doubt in my mind I was going to come away with nothing (nothing being two new pairs of pants, a new hat, and a great new scarf) and that I was not going to have any fun whatsoever.

I had a great time.

Caught up with the hostess and got to congratulate her on her new position at work and hear about her travels, re-connected with a friend who I hadn’t seen in some time, and yes, score some clothes.

I was standing looking at a shirt when a mutual friend walked in with a stack of pants and a bag of shirts, took one look at me, and said, “Carmen, you should try these pants on, I think they’ll fit, and they’re brand new, I never wore them.”

What.

I was loath to drop trou, but when I saw them, I thought, hmm, she could be right.

Now I have the hardest time finding jeans that fit and that I feel comfortable in.

Not only did the fit, they fit fantastically, and, hahahaha, they’re “skinny” fit.

The jeans had some stretch in them and they made it over my bicycle calves and thighs and hugged my butt in the most sassiest of manners, I was blown away, all the girls applauded, and I have a new pair of jeans.

Amazing.

That was not on my agenda.

In fact, I also scored a pair of cords that I wouldn’t have tried on either, but a friend insisted and she was right, they fit, and they matched the outfit I was wearing.

Two pairs of pants in one fell swoop and they’re free?

And there was bacon at the brunch.

Hello.

Happy Saturday.

I stayed, sipped tea, caught up with my friend and felt so much gratitude for going, yes the pants were awesome to get, but so was the human connection.

I can and will isolate at the drop of the hat.

To make myself known and available to friends, and female ones at that, is a big, big deal for me.

I left feeling free and open and, well, well dressed, I never took off the jeans, I put my old ones in the messenger bag, and zipped off on the Vespa to Noe Valley where I had some business to attend to.

A little grocery shopping.

A box of salad to eat at the coffee shop.

Fellows to hang out with.

A little bit of reading and some experience sharing with another woman.

And then up the hill a bit further to do more of my Saturday night thing.

“What are you doing,” my friend said to me as I hemmed and hawed and packed my messenger bag and re-packed it.

“Getting up the nerve to tell a guy I find him attractive and does he want to go have coffee sometime,” I said.

He wasn’t supposed to be here, he never comes here on Saturdays, what the heck is he doing here?

I was just talking about him earlier, how is he here?

My friend smiled, “you look like you’re hiding,” she said astutely.

“I am hiding!” I admitted it.

If there had been room in my messenger bag to crawl in, I would have done it.

“I’m going to go, so you can do your thing,” she said, gave me a hug, and then I spent some more time fumbling around while he spoke to a mutual acquaintance five feet away.

Unpack, re-pack, re-arrange messenger bag.

Adjust scarf, take off scarf, re-adjust scarf, take off hat, ruffle hair, stuff hat in bag, oh God, what does my helmet head look like?

“Hey are you going with the guys,” he turned and asked me.

“I uh, no, I have to get my groceries home,” I said.

Lame!

Lame!

Lame!

“Let me know when you guys go dancing again, you didn’t go last night did you?”

“No,” I said, “did not, but I will, let you know, that is.”

Oh my god, help me, please.

“Ok, you have a good night,” he said and started walking away.

“T______,” I bleated out, “wait, uh, I, uh, come here, for a second.”

He turned, walked back to me and I rambled out the most goofy, off kilter, silly, I’m not good at this, but I find you really attractive and you make me laugh, and if you ever want to have coffee and laugh with me or at me, or, um, have coffee, I already said that, and I don’t know if you’re interested or available, but uh, yeah.

Or something like that.

I was blushing.

I think he might have blushed.

He said, “that’s very sweet, and good to know, thank you for telling me.”

He smiled.

I smiled.

Ok.

He walked away to join his friends.

And sigh.

Done.

Doesn’t even have to go anywhere.

I got it out and it won’t sit on my chest any longer.

Dispelling the fantasy.

I don’t believe he’s actually available and he might not be interested, and it doesn’t even matter.

I am so proud of myself.

Socializing, brunch’ing, trying on jeans in front of a room full of women, asking a guy out, getting on my Vespa and tackling the mean streets of San Francisco–have you seen the hills here?

Doing all things challenging.

Aka

Living.

 

 

Nobody Likes Change

April 27, 2014

I told her as we sat up discussing this and that in the Starbucks up in Noe Valley.

Even good change.

Even change that is going to make my life better, is making my life better, even if it’s currently also making my life a bit uncomfortable.

Or a lot uncomfortable.

My Vespa is an incredible opportunity to lean into that and to walk through the discomfort.

I am learning.

It’s not comfortable.

It’s frightening and as it’s happening all I can do is lean in and do it, walk through it, or ride through it.

Or fucking ride up it.

I was not going to take Castro up and over the hill.

I really wasn’t, but I sort of ended up getting funnelled that way on my scooter headed into Noe Valley.

I had thought I would take it from the Mission side and go a little easier on my first big trip on the Vespa to Noe Valley.

But no, there was construction and traffic and it just was easier to go with the flow of traffic and then the flow of traffic was going up Castro and what the hell am I doing, this was not in the plan.

I just breathed and said, “one block at a time, you only have to do it one block at a time and if it gets overwhelming and you have to pull over and stop, then you can and one block at a time I made it up Castro to the top of the hill and started doing the same thing in my head.

One block at a time down the hill.

Jesus.

It’s a big ass hill.

I remembered that first time I went over that hill.

I was visiting a friend from Madison who had made the move to the Bay area before me, he lived in Berkeley with his girlfriend and we were doing daily excursions to the city–China Town, Nob Hill, the Castro, North Beach, we even did the wharf, albeit at night when it was deserted.

The evening I decided to tackle the hill on Castro Street was St. Patrick’s day.

My friend had to bartend in the city at his job on Fillmore and I had caught a ride in with him and I had decided I was going to walk the walk and talk the talk and take myself to Noe Valley and find an old co-worker of mine who was living in Noe.

She did not know I was coming that particular night, I think I might have called and left her a message, but I had her address and determined, I set out.

I walked Fillmore to Divisadero.

Divisadero to Castro.

Castro to 24th Street and I ran into her as she was turning onto her block with a group of friends headed to their place to regroup from the St. Patty’s day melee in Noe Valley.

I hollered her name.

She turned and did a double take.

I could not believe that it really was her and I just happened to be in the neighborhood.

It was Kismet.

Also, it was just damn lucky for my feet as I had made the trek, in yes, flip-flops.

Remember, at the time I was living in Wisconsin and San Francisco was warm in comparison to the frigid snowy tundra I had left.

My co-worker, who was really an employee from the Angelic, agreed to give me a ride back to the Fillmore so that she could also catch up with our mutual friend who was bartending.

Thinking to myself how far I have come in regards to walking that hill.

I have ridden up it once on a bicycle.

I thought I was going to throw up my lungs and it was painful to breathe the rest of the day.

I have ridden up the hill on the 24 line many a time.

I have driven up and over it a few times as well.

And today I took it on my scooter.

My life keeps getting richer and stranger and wilder and weirder.

I should not be on a Vespa, but there it is.

I should not have made it this long in San Francisco.

But there it is too.

I am supposed to be here and I am supposed to continue to change and to grow and to shed old skin like those poor flip-flops that did not last much past that spring break back in 2000.

Fourteen years later I got to tackle that hill again, one block at a time and realize that I will probably always have some sort of hill to go up and over.

The over part was just as terrifying as the up part, in case you were wondering.

Part of this change is to acknowledge that I am doing it.

That I am getting better, my progress seems to be on par with my usage and I have gotten better at riding the scooter every time I have gotten on it.

I am still at under ten rides and I took on Castro from Divisadero to Noe Valley.

That’s a pretty big leap when I see it from that vantage.

I took my bike out today too.

Just to get some exercise and enjoy a ride that was not a commute.

I rode down towards Sloat and then onto Lake Merced.

I did not actually go around the lake, I decided to head back to the house, the wind was blowing pretty fierce this morning, I actually dusted sand from the beach off my face this afternoon when I got back from the ride, but glad I had gone out and moved my knees a bit.

They were a bit stiff from last nights dance party.

That too, a change.

The first time I went to the End Up as compared to last night’s little dance party.

HUGE change.

It’s not comfortable, I repeat, all this change, but damn it is good.

My life, this constant flux.

I could not have predicted that I would be here, having just ridden my Vespa home from a commitment in Noe Valley, at this time last year.

I was days away from leaving Paris and had no clue what was going to happen.

Change happened.

And it was good.

Even when I cried about it.

It was good.

It still is.


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