Set out running

On the morning of September 11, 2001, after I got the first news that something had gone horribly wrong back east, I went out for a run with my Walkman and listened to the coverage on Morning Edition. I remember the morning in a crystalline way: hearing Bob Edwards stumble as he tried to make sense of the news of the Pennsylvania crash, my headphones filling my ears with disaster as I ran through the sunny streets of the Mission, stopping to water my garden plot and just thinking No No No.

I ran that morning because I wanted space to understand the magnitude of what had happened. I ran often in the days, weeks, and months that followed because I came to love that space, and the way air flowed into and out of my lungs as I moved, and the feeling that when the music in my ears was right and my legs were working together I could keep going forever, could close my eyes and run and run and run.

Just where I picked up running I'm not sure. I more or less loathed running as a kid, and stuck to walking and hiking throughout college, and never, as far as I can recall, ran in my early days in San Francisco. Perhaps it was G. who turned me on to it, or maybe it was something I'd turned to by necessity when the ellipticals and bikes were all in use in the gym. I only know that in 2001, I became a Runner.

Which I remained, off and on, for the following years. Earlier this year, though, I fell out of the habit, often running once a week or less, looking un-longingly at my sneakers as they sat unused on the mat in my front hall, feeling my legs soften. But then I came to my senses.

Now I'm back on the pavement, iPod in hand, ponytail swinging, legs moving in their impossibly graceful (and occasionally seemingly effortless) way, lungs more or less working as they should. And I've rediscovered that space--that space where regret disappears, where everything becomes possible, where all that isn't or can't or won't be slips away, at least for a while. There may come a day when my knees give out, or my lungs stop cooperating, or running and I fall out of love, at which point I'll have to set my sights elsewhere.

For now, though, it's all blissful, and I can only look forward to my next runs--like the one I'll get to take on Saturday afternoon when I'm back on the Vassar campus, and will have time to set out for the trail behind the field house, where it's quiet and calm and full of memory. I can't wait.



On the cusp of sleep last night, I had a moment of worry as I thought, "Must put in application with CIC before my TEF results expire"--that is, make the final push to finish my Canadian residency app and get it in the queue before my French proficiency exam score reaches its use-by date next March.

But now there's an even larger fire prompting me to act: Rehnquist's death, and the resultant court-packing that looms large on the horizon. John Roberts is bad enough (and, really, all things considered in this Bush-y world, probably not nearly as crackpot a conservative as he could be), but good Lord are we screwed if Scalia or Thomas winds up as Chief Justice. It's painful to think who might get ushered in as the now-ninth justice.

Rehnquist was no liberal hero, to be sure, but he seemed to bring a measure of balance to a court that might've otherwise been in danger of listing ever more to the right. Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement was enough of a blow; Rehnquist's death just seems to obliterate whatever remainder of hope there might've been for a balanced court. How can the more liberal and centrist justices who remain possibly stand up to what's ahead?

ASAP, then: go sit for the photos needed for my application, and cobble together the money for the fees. Must get my paperwork on some CIC official's desk before another groundswell of discontent here inspires more likeminded Americans to do the same, before the application process takes longer than it already does. I can't bear the thought of being around to witness first-hand the demise of rulings on privacy and other rights and freedoms we're sadly sure to see the end of. They were great while they lasted.

William Rehquist and your balanced Supreme Court, RIP.