About rskene

Politics and French major, occasional poet and writer, homo sapiens. Unhealthily obsessed with exercising (now featuring yoga), politics in the Middle East, Lord of the Rings, chocolate, naptime, and Cards Against Humanity. I have an unfortunate tendency to abuse the tagging system.

The Greatest Cookie in the Entire World, Ever

They’re here.  I thought, you know: cookies are so different, there are so many types you’ll never be able to say that one is the best, etcetera, etcetera.  I was wrong.

You guys think that I am kidding. I am not kidding.

At the Metropolitan Market on Proctor Street, the first thing you see when you walk into the store is The Cookie. (The capitalization is important: that’s what it is actually called. The Met knows what it’s about.) The Cookie is—well, how would one describe The Cookie.

I asked:


“It is deliciously gooey in the middle, but the outside has an amazingly satisfying crunch.”

“I heard the recipe is insured for $200,000.”

“One time, Gordon Ramsay ate one, and he thought it was the best cookie in the world.”

“One time, I used my entire paycheck to buy every cookie they had at the Met. It was awesome.”

(These are all 100% accurate things that other people have definitely said.)

On paper, The Cookie can be described as a giant chocolate chip cookie with walnuts. But it is so much more than that.

This is The Cookie in my hand.  For size reference.  That is The Cookie on my flat hand.

This is The Cookie in my hand. For size reference. This is The Cookie on my flat hand.

Each bite begins with a crunch that dissolves into layers of pure melted chocolate wrapped around streaks of cookie dough and thick clumps of walnuts. Chocolate streaks your fingers when you eat it. The smell—which is the purest smell chocolate chip cookie smell in the world—permeates through any room it is placed in. You walk into a room with The Cookie in it, and, like Pavlov’s dog, you immediately start salivating. It is that good.

A couple of my friends and I walked to the Met today. The Met is just close enough to the school to make it easy to get there, but just far enough that going every single day becomes a hassle. We entered—and if there was any question about what we were going to get, the people working there were loading cookies, fresh from the oven, onto the display sheet.

I will take all of them, thank you.

I will take all of them, thank you. 

“Dear god,” my friend said.

“These are the best [CENSORED] [CENSORED] cookies in the world,” my friend said.

We loaded up on cookies (we bought other necessities like face wash and peanut butter across the street at Safeway, where it is mildly cheaper if you have a Safeway card). On the walk back, my friends nibbled on their cookies.

“I’ve already finished mine,” my friend announced, sheepishly.

“This might be my lunch,” my other friend said.

Chocolate smeared around their lips and fingers. We walked under the pale yellow sun. I adjusted my sunglasses and thought of the cookies burning a hole in my bag. The Cookies, I should say. I was going to go back to my room and eat them, and it was going to be the greatest thing ever.

(Some of the) Forms of Feminism

One thing that does not get talked about enough is the many ways one can be a feminist.

This has been on my mind recently for obvious reasons because when isn’t fighting the patriarchy on my mind because, over the past week, I have attended two very very different presentations/performances that dealt with the multiple sides of feminism.

Last Monday, I attended a lecture given by Sister Tahera Ahmad (the program calls her ‘Sister,’ so I am going with that, although I seem to recall her being surprised by the title) on Postmodern Muslim Feminism.

We weren't allowed to take photos during the lecture.  So I took one before.

We weren’t allowed to take photos during the lecture. So I took one before.  Diabolical.

Islam is often criticized for oppressing women—which, to be fair, is a valid criticism in oppressive Islamist states. It is not, however, valid for the majority of Muslim practitioners. Ahmad spent a lot of time discussing how Islam, in the Qur’an, does not actually subjugate women at all—in fact, the origins of the religion actually saved multiple female babies from being buried alive, a rather gruesome practice carried out by some of the regional tribes at the time of the Prophet. The talk did seem to be more about critical feminist perspectives being applied to the origins of Islam, but she did eventually talk about the role of women in the postmodern Muslim society. Ahamd spoke a lot about the balance young Muslim women have to work with, particularly in regard to the hijab. One of the most touching things she said was her recount of a conversation she had with a woman on a plane, which will know be paraphrased by me:

ELDERLY WOMEN (sadly): It’s such a shame.

AHMAD: What is?

ELDERLY WOMEN: We fought so you don’t have to wear the veil.


AHMAD: I think you fought so that I could.

I mean, that right there is a huge part of feminism. Validating the choices every woman makes.

Comparatively, I also went to the annual Gal/Valentine’s Day performance of The Vagina Monologue.

I don't have a picture from The Vagina Monologues, but i do have picture of half a Galentine's Day chocolate chip waffle.  Which is almost as good.

I don’t have a picture from The Vagina Monologues, but i do have picture of half a Galentine’s Day chocolate chip pancake. Which is almost as good.

If you have never been, bless your hearts, you should go because the performances run the gamut from hilarious to heart-breaking, they are performed by very attractive ladies in black leather and red, and the soundtrack is like 75% Beyoncé. The Vagina Monologues aim another side of feminism: primarily, the idea of sexual liberation.

(I remember going last year with a male friend, who spent the entire time looking amazingly uncomfortable. It is a good memory. I hope he learned things.)

The Vagina Monologues are less of a learning experience for me—mostly because I have seen them before, and I also already have accepted and digested all of its messages—they’re just fun. Of particular note is The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy sketch, which has to be seen to be believed.

So you should go see it.

The most important thing about feminism is its definition: seeking equality of the genders. The second most important thing is intersectionality; is a multi-prong approach; is an understanding that there are many ways to be a feminist and to support feminism. This week highlighted multiple kinds of feminism—and it was awesome.

A Week of Death Plague

Yesterday, thank god, was the first day I  managed to leave my bed without severe regrets in a week.

It started on Monday with a horribly scratchy throat, and by the time I finished class on Tuesday (classes on Tuesday end at 11:00 AM) all I was capable of doing was crawling back into bed and refusing to leave.

On Wednesday, the university sent out an email about the flu. It, apparently, was hitting campus hard, and we were strongly advised to not go to class, really, do not go, until our symptoms had died. It is kind of difficult to miss class because

a) I actually enjoy class and

b) I am spending an awful lot of money for the privilege of going to class and

c) all my classes have participation grades that are partly based on attendance which leads me to

d) I am a giant baby nerd who cries when she gets bad grades.

But, alas, when one is incapable of standing without the world lazily spinning in gentle ovals around you and one’s throat has decided to restrict passage of air and other necessities, and one’s hands—and body—shake like the long-awaited California earthquake has finally hit, albeit highly localized—basically, my roommate threatened to duct tape me to my bed if I even thought about getting out of it.

Ergo, here follows a list of the things I did when sick:

  1. Went through the denial stage of illness and went to class.
  2. Regretted it.
  3. Got into bed.
  4. Did not get out of bed.
  5. Complained frequently.
  6. Refused food.
  7. Except orange juice.
  8. And some chocolate but that’s because. You know. Chocolate.
  9. Watched two and a half seasons of The Legend of Korra.
  10. Remembered that The Legend of Korra is actually an awesome TV show.
  11. Got really emotional because of The Legend of Korra.
  12. Aggressively refused to do homework.
  13. Regretted that too.
  14. Attempted to make everyone else miserable with me, because misery loves company.
  15. Actually did not regret that part.
  16. Drank more orange juice.
  17. Complained some more.
  18. Got my roommate mildly sick. #sorrynotsorry.
  19. Contemplated things I should be doing.
  20. Rolled over in my bed and did not do any of said things I had to do.

I finally dragged my sorry carcass out of bed on Friday, because I was tired of being sick and I had a Very Important Thing on Saturday and basically I had no choice but to recover. It was unpleasant.

Although—I did have an interesting discussion in my last class of the day, International Law in a Political Context, about international law vaccinations, and why you should get them, and remember when we weren’t allowed to go to school without the measles vaccinations, and this is how polio was eradicated does anyone actually want to have polio and did everyone get their flu shot this year?

I actually did, but, as everyone knows, the flu mutates.

I did actually survive the week, and on Saturday I put on both my contact lenses and then mascara and headed off to my Very Important Thing, and pretended to be totally recovered. I was not, but it’s the attitude that helps.

I just tend to get sick of being sick; it gets in the way of my schedule and my planned blog posts and my life and my eating habits. So I have decided that, while that was a wild ride, I am not going to get sick again this semester.

If I do, I will remain in step one: denial.

New Semester’s Resolutions

Last semester was hard.

The gravity of that statement cannot be underscored enough. It was hard in a “life-class-wow-this-is-a-serious-adult-like-issue-that-i-am-now-dealing-with” type way.

But it’s over now. And after four solid weeks of doing nothing except eating food and crying about The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies (it’s not weird at all okay) (you think that I am joking) (I am not), I have returned to school completely rested and with a list of Things That Will Make This Semester More Enjoyable And Less Hard.

1. Actually! Talk! To! My! Professors! I tend to be the sort of person who is convinced that she can handle things on her own. The University of Puget Sound has, however, really awesome faculty that want me to come in and talk about my problems, both directly related to the course and barely related to the course.   So my major goal is to stop being anxious about “bothering them” and actually making use of my professors and the amazing resources that they have.

2. Submit a poem (or poems) to Crosscurrents. Crosscurrents is the literary magazine at our school, and every single time the submissions are open I always manage to find excuse towards why I cannot publish. Which is dumb. I am actually enjoy writing poetry and I am Not Terrible at writing (I mean, I’m writing here), so I should be getting my work out there.

3. Find something every day that makes me happy. The idea of this is to focus more on the good things of life, and to note them as they happen. The bar of happiness is set extremely low: literally, “I had a shower and it felt really good” is an acceptable thing. I just want to be more happy and remind myself that good things are happening all the time; I am just unaware of them.

4. Eat more chocolate. My friends think it cannot be done. I say otherwise. Chocolate is good for the soul.

5. Read more books. I have actually decided to keep a reading journal for 2015, into which I am only allowed to put books that I have not read before. This goal is to a) provide enjoyment because READING IS AWESOME KIDS, b) allow my eyes to rest from the glare of the computer, thus cutting down on headaches, c) make me use the various libraries around Tacoma more, and d) broaden my knowledge base and make me smarter.

I have other, lesser goals, of course: educate myself on every social issue so I can become a decent person, continue exercising, treat myself (my friend and I have actually established a Treat. Yo. Self. Day as a New Year’s Resolution and I heartily recommend it), say yes to more things, wear red lipstick more often, learn how to do the perfect wingtip on my eyeliner, get straight A’s, discover the meaning of my life, get a job. . . .Some are feasible. Some are less easy. But I am setting myself up for success.

The Last (Poetry) Hurrah at a Very Hipster Coffee Shop

I blinked. The lights, compared to the rest of the dimly lit café, were blinding. The microphone hovered a good seven-eight-maybe-nine inches above my head. I tugged it down, and it fell off the stand.

“Oh boy,” I said, into the microphone. My voice echoed throughout the café. The laughter, though, was encouraging and I smiled.

“Hello,” I said, “I’m Rachel, and this poem is called ‘the butterfly effect’.”

If you have been following along with my life, or if you have read my bio at the bottom of this page, you may be wondering about now just what a politics major and a French minor is doing at a poetry reading. The answer: I wanted to. I dabble in poetry and creative writing, and I have been taking advantage of the classes offered at the school. The reading in question was the capstone, the last hurrah, etc. of my introduction to poetry class. After weeks of poem-writing and poem-reading and poem-teaching, we all piled into cars and drove to B Sharp Coffee House, in downtown Tacoma.

What followed next is hard to explain. I have issues with things like “reading poems dramatically” and “bearing my heart and soul to anyone, let alone a bunch of classmates and my professor and some servers.” My hands were literally shaking for most of the evening.

But as I listened to my classmates read poems entitled “Good Morning!” and “Fireworks” and “Hypnagogic” and, my personal favorite, “Is This What Growing Up Feels Like?”—which incidentally made me be like “I feel that” on every line—something my professor said returned to haunt me. He said that our class had been one of the most enthusiastic and hard-working classes he had had the privilege of teaching.

He also said "I'm in a silly mood tonight" and "Stop laughing at my grandmother" tonight.

He also said “I’m in a silly mood tonight” and “Stop laughing at my grandmother” while reading his own poetry.

I heard and saw that enthusiasm and work in each poem. There is something incredibly amazing that happens when words work together—and I half-closed my eyes and listened.

By the time it was my turn, I had lost track of the order of the evening. I munched on pizza/flatbread Greek-inspired food and stared blankly at a doppio, which, despite sounding like a normal double shot of espresso, is a coffee that really should come with an instruction manual.

“Oh,” I said, “It’s my turn.”

I read two poems. One, “the butterfly effect,” I will reprint in its entirety here. It’s because I love you (and also because my other poem, “Let Me Tell You What I Know of Love,” is much much longer).

the butterfly effect

wings like an egg’s yolk

tremble, and under the rain,

your skin melts.

i read once that when

you stroke the wing

of a butterfly,

the delicate crescents of

your fingers shivering,

it cannot fly again. i lean

close to your silver warmth.

my eyelashes brush

against your cheek, and i

wonder if this kiss,

like the rain clouds drowning

the sun, will ruin you.

[pause for raucous applause and/or snaps]

When I got back to my seat, I was smiling. Flushed with success. Mostly, I was proud of myself. I had done something that I had never done before, something that scared me, and I had succeeded.

Post-Thanksgiving Pep Talk

There are two weeks left until finals week.

I discovered this lying face down on my couch at home, my stomach extended several feet beyond and many pounds beyond its normal capacity, bloated on turkey and cranberry sauce and pie.

It was not a particularly pleasant revelation—only because I felt like where did that time go, and is this the effect of marathoning Parks and Recreation and Criminal Minds at the same time, and oh dear that is a lot of 5000 word essays in not a lot of time, and what the heck am I buying people for the non-denominational winter holidays, and the hobbit movie comes out really really soon and everyone will die, and maybe I should pick my poems for that poetry reading I’m going to. In other words, I felt a little bit shocked by the sudden rush of everything I have left to do.

But it also has a sense of a deep breath, right before one jumps into the very icy waters of Puget Sound, or outside into the iced-over grounds of the University of Puget Sound—I know it is going to hurt, but I also know that, on some level, it will be worth it.

And it is not like I am not prepared, either—these two (ish) weeks are what I have been working towards for most of the semester, and I know what I am doing, and I am capable of dealing with it. Like I know what policy options are available in the Middle East-North Africa region, and I can write a grand strategy paper on that, and I can tell you the themes of Amélie and Mon meilleur ami for my French film class, and I already have half of my paper on governance and state-building written. It’s all up in my head, and I know how to work it.

Basically, this here is my pep talk to myself. I have been alternating between stress, anger, and emotional repression for the better part of three months, due to myriad personal and political issues including but not limited to a very nasty break-up, the new Exodus movie, the dehumanization of black lives in Ferguson and throughout the United States, and the recurrence of depression, anxiety, and PTSD among everyone I know. I’m definitely not saying that any of these situations have improved, but at this point, at least I am capable of dealing with it.

(I am not, however, capable of dealing with the next hobbit movie and the farewell to Middle Earth without falling apart, but that is because I am a giant nerd.)

We Are Going to Have Fun (Even If It Kills Us)

“Oh no,” I said, “There are wheels attached to my feet.”



I slowly began to roll forward, my knees locked. My friends, who were swapping out their own normal shoes for tan roller skates, ignored me.

Carefully, I lifted one skate entirely off the ground, and then set it back down again in a motion similar to the one I would use if I were attempting to ski up a hill. The wheels rolled ominously under me.   I pushed myself out into the rink, far enough away from the wall that I couldn’t clutch to it desperately.

Okay, I said to myself, I got this.

It is a sad truth that I do not got, nor, frankly, will I ever get, the art of roller skating. It is one of those things that, if not mastered at the age of four, will leave you forever trailing behind, perspiring slightly from the work and the primal fear of “oh I am about to fell over and crack my head open.” However, my complete inability had not stopped me or any of my friends from riding the number 1 bus out to Rollin’ 253 Skate and Community Center for an hour and a half of sliding around with wheels strapped to our feet—because, in the words of my dear friend, “We are going to have fun if it kills us.”

We were having fun—and honestly, it could have killed me.

My friend skated up to me. “It’s Retro Night!” she said.

I looked around. There were no overt indications of anything retro

Perhaps the general aesthetic?

Perhaps the general aesthetic?

and the music playing was a generic mix of late-nineties pop.

“When did NSYNC become retro?” I wondered.

Alas, my friend was significantly better than me, and had already sped away, leaving my question hanging in the air. A group of twelve-year-olds, also significantly better than me, heard the question but ignored me.

As the time wore on, I slowly became more and more comfortable with the spinning wheels of death on my feet, gaining speed as I looped around the rink again and again. As I turned the corner, a small girl darted in front of, her skates blurring beneath her. I attempted to stop.

I failed at stopping. My arms flailed, as if the air would suddenly become corporeal and as if by grabbing it I would somehow stop myself from falling. My legs slid out from under me, and I hit the ground with a solid thump. The vibrations reverberated through my entire left side.

“Ow,” I said, still sitting on the ground.

I got to my feet, my entire body protesting. My wheels slid underneath me. I rolled dramatically up to my friends, crashing into the wall to stop.

“I’m here,” I said.

“Are you okay?” one of them asked.

“I think if we were meant to move around with wheels on our feet, we would have evolved like this,” I said.

“Probably,” one said. She held out her hand. “Wanna do another lap?”

I took it—technically, I gripped onto it for dear life. I hoped she was okay with pulling me around the rink, because my legs were not working that well.

“Sure,” I said.

Music Makers and Shakers

Friday night, the thumping beats of “Turn Down For What” and “Talk Dirty to Me” echoed in my head. The audience was screaming, cheering, laughing, moving; the music wormed its way deep into our bones. It was the second-to-last number of the Repertory Dance Group (RDG) Fall 2014 show, and everyone was loving it. As the last song came on—“Rather Be”—and the dancers—over 100—all flooded back onto the stage for the final number, the audience roared.

The next evening, I sat in the quiet dark of the Schneebeck Concert Hall. On stage, a single violinist dressed in red coaxed music out of the strings. The soaring notes of the movements by Mozart and Rachmaninoff and Bruch and Ponce filled the hall. I didn’t close my eyes to listen; rather, I watched as the violinist, a junior, bent and wove with the notes she played.

I have no experience in music. The closest I ever got to playing an instrument was the month in elementary school we spent learning the recorder, at the end of which my music teacher did not let me perform in the class-wide recital. Because I was terrible. And this terribleness extends throughout anything related to music—I am incapable of dancing to a bit or singing along to song in tune.

Despite my inabilities, or perhaps because of, most of my friends are tied to the more musical arts in some way. Two of them play the clarinet, one of them performs in musical theatre, one has perfect pitch and plays the flute and the piano, one dances in RDG. And I get taken to every single show, from ridiculously good a cappella concerts to musicals to orchestra performances to, yes, RDG and violin recitals.

The dichotomy of the two shows that I saw over the weekend was stunning. One was in a high school theatre; the 800 seats were completely filled; the audience moved and clapped and cheered along to the music as the dancers swayed on-stage. And RDG accepts everyone who tries out—it was filled with people who danced, not because they were good, but because they wanted. The violin concert was much more sedate, with less flashing lights and thumping beats; the violinist herself was hugely talented and a major in that field; the concert hall was intently focused on simply listening to the notes she played.

I cannot make music myself: I cannot play an instrument or sing in tune or even tap my toe in time to the beat. But I can definitely appreciate it.

(Also, my friends see it as their duty to educate me.  So now I know which dances were difficult and which ones were not, and which composer focused on tone over structure—and therefore sounded better.)

(It was Rachmaninoff.)

Excessive Amounts of Candy and Seasonal Spirit

In October, it is difficult to think of anything other than Halloween.

Walking towards Proctor? There’s a ghost that hangs from a tree, a grim-reaper-esque fellow with a mouth gaping open in a bloody scream. He floats in the breeze, twisting like pale smoke, and I will be honest: the first time I ever saw him, I screamed. Now, though, I call him Bill. There’s a giant black cat on a glowing orange pumpkin; the effect is particularly powerful at night.

Bill would be on the far right, but unlike normal ghosts, he does his best   work in the day.

Bill would be on the far right, but unlike normal ghosts, he is best seen in the day.

And a few houses down, there are bloody heads sticking up from the grass, like some sort of grotesque ferns, and tombstone laying against the doorways. One house, even further down, is lined entirely with pumpkins of all shapes and sizes—fat, yellow, thin, white, stretched and squashed, orange, and even a couple that are actually squash—all around the deck.

Entering Safeway? All you can buy is candy. Which, luckily, was what I was there for. My roommate signed us up to be a dorm room that children can trick-or-treat at on the 30th; this, however, actually requires having candy to give to the fairies and police officers and superheroes that come running by. The candy choices are large, garish, and decorated with pumpkins; and nowhere do they make a cheap mix combining dark chocolate, KitKats, and Twix Bars. I settled for KitKats, as they are delicious and not as expensive as they could be. Also, handing out Tootsie Rolls is cruel, and results in disgusting leftovers.

Going to class? In French, my professor asked me what I was dressing up as. It is very difficult to say, “I am going to make it up out of whatever I can find in my closet because I am too lazy to actually even consider going shopping for costumes; however sadly I don’t have any costume-related clothing so it will be normal clothes and me pretending it’s a costume.” So instead, I said “Je pense Black Widow,” which means, “Black Widow because you just wear varying shades of black and leather and pretend she’s in disguise so brown hair is cool.”

(My professor, for his part, has an intense fear of Halloween. His first year in the States, when he did not actually speak English fluently, he was left alone in a big house on Halloween. When the doorbell rang, as it is wont to do, he answered it and was greeted by one giant ghost and several smaller ghosts—all of whom he assumed were burglars. His heart has never recovered.)

Doing anything? When I went to Curtain Call, the theme was “Doom and Gloom,” and the song choices were either from fairly dark shows or were really dark themselves or were operas written about fairy godmothers who ate people. All the poems I wrote for my introductory poetry class were described as “creepy” or “almost creepy” or “it’s a little creepy, don’t you think”. All of them. Jack-o’-lanterns lurk outside of every resident hall.

They are surprisingly well-carved.

They are surprisingly creative.

There is only one flavor allowed, in your doughnuts and in your ice cream and especially in your lattes: pumpkin spice. (I hate pumpkin so much guys it is slowly destroying me.) Even reading the news: my friend decided to dress up as Kim Jong Un’s cheese.

Everything is Halloween, even the orange leaves clinging to the trees and black skies. It tastes like chocolate.

The day after Halloween, we went out to the football game versus Pacific Lutheran and watched the Lutes (I don’t think I will ever ever ever be over that name) win. The air was bitterly cold, and sank down into our bones. The sun peeked out, just for a second,

I was still freezing cold.

I was still freezing cold.

but remembered that it was now November, that winter and Thanksgiving and 5000 word policy papers on the Israel/Palestine peace process were coming, and hid again.

Running (Away From My Problems, Mostly)

I got five and a half hours of sleep the night before. Not because of homework, or my wild social life (just kidding) (my social life is the least wild thing in the history of college students), or even relationship problems—I spent three hours I should have been sleeping talking a friend down from an anxiety attack. I was exhausted.

A more normal person would have stayed in bed until 2:00 pm. I did not.

I knocked on my friend’s door (a different friend). “Do you want to go for a run with me? Down to the water?”

Twenty minutes later, we had adjusted our iPods, double-knotted our shoes, and ran out the door.

The pace we set was higher than usual, and my lungs and quads began burning pretty quickly. We ran down Warner, towards Thirtieth; the leaves on the tree were turning color and the wind kept blowing them into our eyes. It was sunny, though; one of the last truly nice days of the year.

After skidding down the dirt path through the park (I don’t know the names of these places and frankly I’m a little too lazy to look them up), we arrived on the edge of the Sound. The water was very, very blue.

Really really blue.

Very blue.  I don’t know how else to describe it.

The wind picked up slightly, blowing my hair out of my face. We stopped running, and settled ourselves at the high tide line, where the water lapped our toes. I trailed my fingers in the water, and felt the sweat on the back of my neck evaporate. The sound of ocean hummed in my ears until it was all I could hear; that, and my heartbeat in my throat and temples and my wrists.

My friend yelped as a wave crashed over the tips of her sneakers. I laughed.

We ran along the waterfront; past a group of people taking photos of a silver fire hydrant, or possibly the warehouse across the street (it’s artsy, or something); past a man propped on the remains of one of the old cement blocks, in the water; past several fish houses and a painting of a man’s orange face.

“How do you think they did that?” my friend asked.

“With difficulty,” I said.

I'm imagining an inflatable raft.

I’m imagining an inflatable raft.

We turned to face the hill; we craned our necks up and up and up, until we were no longer looking at the quiet street but at the clouds that streaked the sky. We had to go back.

Our sneakers beat into the worn pavement. Our voices died, replaced with the ragged sound of our breathing. Up the hill. We ran.


Several days later, I tugged on an old regatta shirt with long sleeves and a pair of leggings. It was drizzling, and freezing cold outside. It was also 10:00 at night.

“I’m going for a run,” I told my roommate.

“Don’t die,” she said.

I ran down Union Avenue; it’s lit, and the orange glow from the street lamps cast everything in the shades of Halloween. I dashed past a glowing black cat clutching a pumpkin, several flickering jack-o’-lanterns, a ghost swaying from the trees. Trees, with their leaves barely clinging to the branches, obscured the night sky.

My heart hammered wildly in my chest. I kept running. My legs cramped, the muscles in my thighs seized. I kept running.

I had received a phone call at about 9:00 P.M., from home—one of my cats, at only seven years old, had taken very ill and died in the space of only two days. On top of everything else—it’s the time of year when my homework is piling up and my brain starts to fracture—I sprinted out my door, into the night.

The air cooled my burning eyes.


To be clear, I hate running. I have short legs and a rather curvy figure and basically that completely wrong body type for running. But running does something to me that most other forms of exercise cannot: it clears my mind. Rain, sun, night, day, wind, snow—it does not really matter to me. What does matter is the fresh air and the burning in my legs and lungs, and the comforting quiet of the nearby Tacoma streets.