The Grind

The mill: I have a confession to make. We bought a treadmill. Stick with me while I rationalize for a bit, then go ahead with your well intentioned derision.

See, the weather in the Pacific Northwest between November and oh, July, is vile. Not only is it cold and wet, but it’s damned dark. Usually at this time of year, I join a gym or sign up for yoga classes, but there’s nothing within walking distance of my house and I hate to get in the car to go exercise, it just goes counter to everything I believe in.

We didn’t buy a new treadmill, heaven forbid, no, we bought it off of Craig’s List from someone who probably bought it off of Craig’s List in the dark part of last winter. Every day or two I do a 2.5 mile workout, while watching Samantha Brown or Anthony Bourdain (love him or hate him? I can’t decide!) or listening to back episodes of This American Life on my iPod.

I know it’s dumb, I know I should go outside, I know, I know, I know. And I will. When it stops with the vile damp cold I will go back to walking to the park. And last week, when the sun was out, we did just that and then some. But for now, I churn away on the treadmill in my basement while Anthony Bourdain eats stuff I wouldn’t want to be in the same room with.

The treadmill cost less than a gym membership to some place I’d never go and because it’s right here in my house, I have to have a pretty lame excuse to not do my workout. I am not getting thinner and I’m often sore, but I’m not getting any fatter, either, which in December and January is really an accomplishment to be proud of.

The hack: I cranked out two more Hawaii articles this week after I carved the 6000 excess words out of my manuscript. It nearly killed me, and no, I knew better than to delete that stuff, I put it in a cut file so I can either recover it if I need filler or repackage it for other uses. I’m always reading about how repackaging and repurposing your writing is the way to financial salvation, and because we’re looking to clear barely minimum wage on the book, it’s nice to get a few extra bucks for the banging on the keyboard.

I don’t have any more travel stories on deck and that makes me a little sad – I’m going to have to do a little leg work to turn up more places to publish my head full o’ Hawaii. I walked away from opportunity to launch a Hawaii blog because the pay was way too low, but not before I turned the idea around 17 different ways in my head to try to make sense of it. It hurt me to say no, but I just couldn’t undervalue my writing like that. It was nice to have those two other stories lined up to validate that decision.

The grind: I lurked around the house for about a week whining about how I needed some real paying work and soon, dammit. That technique wasn’t turning much up, I can’t recommend it, so I tried something else and got in touch with my clients to let them know I was back on the block.

I’m happy to report that I’ve turned up just the right size gig to fill the space between now and our next adventure. I’m unraveling the issues first, next week I’ll turn back to writing technical copy. It’s a bit dry compared to the luscious vocabulary used to describe the tropics, but I confess, I like technical writing because it’s concrete. The thing either has a button there or it doesn’t, there’s no need for florid, subjective poetry about where the button is.

I’m back at the mill, a hack with her nose to the grindstone. If you have any interest at all in knowing how I feel about it, well, I feel totally okay with all of it. I’m getting some exercise, I handed off my book and two related stories, and I have paying tech work. It’s all good.

Happy birthday to me.

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9 thoughts on “The Grind

  1. Happy Birthday, Pam! I’m laughing about the treadmill. J got one off Craigslist about a year ago…but it was in the FREE section…and as soon as he hauled that big-a** thing home, we knew why. Yep, never worked. We finally recycled the bits and pieces a couple of months ago. Hope ’08 is a fantastic year for you!! xoxo

  2. Happy Birthday indeed! Happy New Year too! 2008 has started well for you, I see.

    We have an elliptical machine, not a treadmill, and when I do actually use it, I quite like it. The fierce, bone-chilling winds around here prevent me from walking much outside at this time of year unless the weather is superb and joining the gym is just a no no for someone like me.

    And mmmm…Anthony Bourdain. I can’t decide either. 🙂

  3. Vile… Seattle weather in winter is pretty grim. I joined another of you West Seattle people at Greenlake today & we studiously ignored the regular sprinkles as we clomped the 2.7 miles around the lake.

    The only downside of a treadmill, I think, is the lack of fresh air that even the darkest Seattle day offers.

    Good luck with that treadmill stuff :>

  4. 1.Happy Birthday!!!!
    2.We not only have a tread mill but also an elliptical machine.
    3.I appreciate all the advantages these huge machines provide (and believe me I had the same reasons for buying them – really!)
    4.Husband said we can use them even on the terrace (which we of course never did)
    5.They serve very well as cloth-stands (always, at least for the past 3 or so years)
    I (we) really did use them regularly for 2 years or so and it was great (as far as I remember). I just wish I could bring myself to some workout again…….
    Good luck! Regina

  5. When times were prosperous and I had the money to belong to a gym, I was a treadmill junkie. Love the whole repetitive motion, make up your own landscape (watch television shows) or soundscape (listen to podcasts or music), brain tired, rasta hips moving in rhythm aspects of treadmill.

    If Seattle is anything like Luebeck, and I suspect it is, there are only two reasons to go out walking: on those rare occasions when the beautiful weather, or in any type of shitty weather if you want to go off on a walkie talkie with a good friend. If you want to walk for exercise or to free up your brain, treadmills rock.

  6. Re exercise/walking/etc. I live in Colorado and go for a two-mile walk at 7 a.m every morning w/ a neighbor, year-round. We don’t have much rain, and even at Winter Solstice, it’s light at that time. And in summer, it’s still cool. Otherwise, I’d have a treadmill or an eliptical trainer too — but I spend so much time indoors that I like the opportunity to get out.

    Exercise/walking/etc. Part Deux. I maximize those and other walks w/ Nordic Walking poles. Burns 20-45% more calories than pole-less walking at the same speed and for the same distance. I’ve written a Nordic Walking book (out in spring) and maintain a blog on the topic at

    Re travel writing, our ‘metier’ has taken a bruising lately, thanks to Craig Thompson, who wrote “Smile When You’re Lying: Confessions of a Rouge Travel Writer,” which has caused quite a stir in travel writer (and other writer) circles. I posted at long item about it at and highly recommend Rolf Pott’s observations at . Be sure to read the comments.

    Happy Birthday — and Happy New Year too.

  7. Happy Birthday … !!!

    I like the idea of the machine but we’ve no where to put one. Gert’s signed up for a 10m marathon section with the rest of his office. I said I’d train with him, walking, so as not to upset the knees … did I mention the weather here. Mmmm but I think, compared to yours, ours is relatively insipid actually. Nothing too raw and natural about Antwerpen 😉

  8. Wow, you folks are terrifically supportive of my little hamster wheel workout! Now I feel oddly more obligated to stick with it.

    The deal with Seattle is the combination of cold and wet together. Bleh. Add the dark at four and you’re totally motivated to… sit on the couch drinking coffee and eating cake.

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