Some Songs I Wrote

A Collection of Songs by Katrin Deetz

I’ve been playing the guitar, singing, and writing songs since I was twelve years old.  The following is a set of my top 20 songs written thus far, and are from different ages and times in my life.  Most have chords to go with them, but I wanted to publish the lyrics as a start.  I’m not saying they’re any good, or sound any better when I sing them.  I also apologize to anyone who actually knows about songwriting that they’re probably not formatted correctly.  But I’ll tell you I’ve loved every second of writing and crafting them. Music is a passion that connects us all on a deep level, and I’ve always dreamed of being part of something greater than myself.  I hope you will find something you relate to in my words.  If you want to listen to some pretty old (and slightly embarrassing) recordings of a few of them, check out my relic of a MySpace page here.

All songs written by Katrin Deetz.



[Verse 1]

I am begging to shine

A light from deep inside

It’s been awhile,

But I know it’s still here in me

Dull and dusty, like old china

Resting on the shelf

In an abandoned house

Forever forgotten


But I am sterling silver, 925

Polish me up and let me shine


Shine, shine, shine burning light from the inside

Shine, shine, shine like 925

[Verse 2]

At the pawn shop,

All the others look so nice and shiny

Compared to me, I’m not sitting so pretty

Oh but I’m sterling silver, 925

A pretty good conductor of electricity

If you wanna give it a try

Dust me off, polish me up

Bring me into the light to shine



[Verse 3]

I am begging to shine, shine, shine

Like perfectly polished 925

Sterling silver so bright

Just like a mirror

Sometimes in life

We get a little dull

All we need’s a little bit of

Love to shine again





[Verse 1]

She was only eighteen, living a dream

Big dreams, big smile

Big plans, going somewhere

Passport to anywhere she wants to see

It’s time to celebrate living big


How did fifteen years fly by like the night?

Somewhere along the way I gave up the fight

What ever happened to livin’ big?

[Verse 2]

Started with the rent check,

Became so much more

Just scraping by, forget about living the dream

Want to live big

But I’m just trying to survive

Years are flying by like the cars on Interstate 5

Relentlessly remind me I am running out of time



Is growing up growing out of your dreams?

I wanna live big, big, big

[Verse 3]

Thirty-three, so it be

All I have is now, it’s all on me to see

What I need to believe

That I did not let fifteen years fly by in the night,

No that’s simply not me

Finally I see, I am already

Living the dream

[Chorus – modified]

I don’t let time fly by like the night

I live my life…big


“Blank Slate” 

[Verse 1]

I looked ahead down the road today,

Turned around, smiled at how far I’d made it

When suddenly out of the warmth and grace,

Stared me squarely in the face, a blank slate


Life’s looking me right in my eyes

I can’t just sit and watch the days pass by

Gotta go out on my own and fill that blank slate

[Verse 2]

Turned back down the old path for just one more day

Acted like the queen of the world, had so much to say

Then daybreak reared its pretty little head,

Time to move on face the music ahead



A giant vacant path lies ahead

Demanding my attention like a baby that just won’t go to bed

That glistening blank slate, so blinding

[Verse 3]

Years long ago, memories engraved in time

Like pictographs in desert stone

They’ve all got a story to tell

Now I’ve got a blank slate to fill, new picture to tell new stories




[Verse 1]

Wanna shut the world away, be myself today

Need some faith, even just a taste

I’ve been livin’ in misery, stuck behind this wall,

Wanna tear the fortress down, watch it fall


Breakdown, breakthrough

Make my way out to something new

Breakthrough, breakthrough

[Verse 2]

I can smell the roses, on the other side

Tease me like a little boy, go run and hide

Wanna the quiet the noise in my head,

Wanna live but I feel dead



Stone wall, but piece by piece not so strong

[Verse 3]

Eyes run dry like the Mojave sky

Can’t cry no more

I am nothing more than dust,

Time weathers me like rust



“Barely Hanging On By A Thread” 

[Verse 1]

Wake in the morning, to the same old story

You’re lying on the couch, I’m getting ready for work again

It’s been a long year, of getting nowhere near ahead

He’s one in ten, out of a job


And it feels like we’re hanging on, just a spider web in the wind

Loosely connected, I’m hoping that we make it


(Cause now) I’m barely hanging on by a thread

Longing for the life we once knew

Barely hanging on by a thread, unraveling

[Verse 2]

I’ve been waiting, but my faith is fading

Away just like the sunset in your eyes

Don’t know whether it’s just the stormy weather

Or is it your fault we’re drowning in the rain?




I can’t save you, I can’t make everything alright

Can’t fix it, though I’ve tried

[Verse 3]

I can’t change you, I can’t make you

Want to spread your wings and fly

You’re my best friend,

Nothing less than

The one I want to shoot across the sky

So when it feels like we’re hanging on,

Just like spider webs in the wind

Stay by my side, and I know that we’ll make it




[Verse 1]

I try to push it down below

But it’s everywhere I go

Wanna burn it all away, yeah

Send it out to sea

Let me get back to feeling like me


(Oh) I need another distraction

To numb my reaction

I’m falling down like dominoes again

[Verse 2]

I walk the maze

My head in a haze

Just counting the days that you’ve been gone

It’s not enough, to say you messed up

You’re gonna pay the price for rolling the dice again



Time is up, I’ve had enough

Can’t fake it anymore

[Verse 3]

Try and stand up on my own two feet

Walk on and show the world I’m fine

Pretend that all my dominoes are lined up neatly

That I’m not suffering inside



“Dream Legs” 

[Verse 1]

Dream legs, mushy feet dragging

Clumsily toward the unreachable end

Paralyzing every muscle

Bursting with anticipation


Trying to run forward but still I remain

Treading water with my dream legs


Dream legs, holding me down

It’s time to get a move on but I can’t get out

Stuck in these dream legs, dream legs,

Feels more like a nightmare

[Verse 2]

Frozen solid in my tracks

Feels like I keep sliding back

The light gets further away

Sinking into darkness and decay




The siren is blaring, fire’s ablaze

Time to run, here’s your chance to escape

[Verse 3]

If life’s all about how you see things

Maybe my vision just needs adjusting

Maybe I’m not as stuck as I perceive

Maybe these dream legs aren’t my burden to carry


[Chorus 2]

Set free from these

Dream legs, holding me down

Was paralyzed, but look at me now

Running like a horse let out the gate

Running free from those

Dream legs


“Glass Ceiling” 

[Verse 1]

Lately I’ve been feeling, oh

Just a little unsatisfied

Tired of waking up to the same old rut,

Living hand to mouth

And I’ve started believing it’s all I’m worth

Waiting for the payback that says I’ve made it

Wouldn’t it be nice if I could have a slice of the pie

So I can do everything I want to do before I die


Staring up through a glass ceiling

Beneath the party, party, party where I belong


[Verse 2]

I watch them all, celebrating their riches

Living like they’re the center of the world

Truth be told, I’ve had it both ways

And the richest one is the kindest one, always

But wouldn’t it be nice if I could have a slice of that pie

So I can do what I need to do before I die



The kindest one is the richest one

Happy with no strings attached, so free

[Verse 3]

Feels like treading water,

Every month a struggle

Living on a shoestring budget

Hoping the car doesn’t break down

So wouldn’t it be nice if I could have just

A little slice of that pie

Just another way to do all the things I wanna do before I die




[Verse 1]

She opens up her eyes,

Suddenly aware of all the lies

She knows it’s time…

Memories fall, like waterfalls

Pouring down the cliffs of yesterday

Pouring down, down, down


If home is in my heart, I can’t find it here

Jeckyl and Hyde, both screaming in my ear

I am homeless, homeless

[Verse 2]

By myself again,

Left you alone at the corner

Once together, now undone

History runs deep, but now feels so shallow

Just memories in the past, there is no now



I don’t know where my home is anymore

But I know it’s no longer with you

[Verse 3]

I hurt you like a lion kills its prey

Sharp claws are those words I say

They strike you down, lightning on the sea

You never saw this side of me



“How Long?” 

[Verse 1]

I’m trying to shed my skin

I want to break out of this prison I’m in

Winter wind’s howling, leaves flying past

High tide’s rising, water’s coming fast


How long?

‘Til I set myself free

Open my eyes, see the signs around me

It’s time to say goodbye, time to say goodbye

[Verse 2]

You sure like to tell me, how I’m almost good enough

If I just change who I am, then maybe you’ll give me your love

But now I see, your shadow’s come to light

Everyday’s just the same, it’s not worth the fight



My eyes are open wide, and there’s no reason now

It’s time for this bluebird to fly away, fly away

[Verse 3]

But I wake in the morning, to another cloudy day

To the silence between us, things we need to say

Held down in the blue water crashing overhead

Hold my breath and count to ten, somebody give me some air



“I Can, So I Do” 

[Verse 1]

The sound of my voice

Never sounds good enough for me

Always straining for something more

Never seem to stay on key

But there’s a true love

I simply need to, I must

Even if I’m the only ears

Listening with rose-colored headphones


But I can, so I do

Because I want to, need to, love to, have to,

I can, so I do

[Verse 2]

I push too hard

For your uh-huh

Trying to find where I stand among the crowd

Do I fit in here?  With the real housewives of Anytown?  

I find myself alone all the time,

Just me myself and I

Because I’d rather sing the truth

Even if it only falls upon my own ears


[Verse 3]

With every single day that passes

Time’s running out for the things that we love

Like spring wildflowers, bursting with life

Then fading away

Though I may sing off key, though I may try too hard

As long as I’m here

I’ll be doing what I love to do

Because I absolutely need to



“Only You” 

[Verse 1]

Only you can decide how you live your life

You gotta let your fears go, know it’ll be alright

You’ve got friends and laughter, it’s the good life you’re after

Just remember along the way…


Only you can choose

To spread your wings and fly

Only you can choose

How to live your life

Only you, only you

[Verse 2]

May you learn it’s okay to be imperfect

Though you may struggle it’s all part of it

It’s never too late, to start over again

You can change your mind when things don’t go to plan



You’ve got everything you need

To do as you please

All the power’s deep inside you

[Verse 3]

The easy road is a thief in disguise

Robbing you from becoming wise

Take a stand for yourself, don’t wait for someone else

Your power lies inside you


You’ve got everything you need

To do whatever you please


“Rising Above” 

[Verse 1]

My eyes are wide open, I finally realize

What it’s all about, Finally got it right

Feels like I’m making up for lost time

Thinking back on all the days I wasted, long gone


Now I’m rising above you,

Taking back my time

Rising above your disguise

[Verse 2]

I was drowning, sinking deeper and deeper

I was hanging onto, my only friend

Now I’m no longer down, no longer your keeper

Feeling freer and freer, now you’re not around



Look at me now, Standing on solid ground, solid ground, solid ground

[Verse 3]

Now I’m seeing clearer and clearer, Living back in the real world

Feeling so good now that you’re not around, yeah

Better and better, beyond measure

Flying higher than ever, you’re not pulling me down


[Verse 4]

I gave you years of my life, How quickly it passes by

Sneaking up on me like a cat stalking his prey

Little by little, my power just faded away

The light in my eyes dimmed to a smoky haze

So far away from myself, so consumed by you


I’m in no hurry, taking my sweet time


“Roll the Dice” 

[Verse 1]

I rolled the dice, I didn’t think twice

Before I threw all my chips in

I took my pain and sent it through my veins

Rushing like a driving train


It’s a long, long way, back home

To the love I had known

[Verse 2]

Stood in the rain, I just couldn’t explain

Everything I’s feeling inside

Crawled in my skin, committed a sin

Just looking for a place to hide


[Verse 3]

Looked in the mirror, tried to see a bit clearer

The fire burnin’ from my eyes

Down on my knees, heart’s aching to breathe

Drowning in a sea of lies



“Sick and Tired” 

[Verse 1]

Driftin’ along, got no place to be

My bank account’s steady losing steam

Gotta piece of paper, says I’m good enough

To get that dollar, but I ain’t seen a dime


Hard times fallin’ on us

Standin’ in line, waitin’ for a piece of the pie

(But) the line keep’s on growin’, well

We’re just growin’ sick and tired (x2)

[Verse 2]

Everybody’s strugglin’, tryin’ to get by

One paycheck away from the poverty line

If it’s all relative, no we’re not poor

But to make it here, we need something more


[Verse 3]

They’ve got a trillion dollars, throw it at their wars

Show each other who’s really in control

Once was a dream to have so much more

But now it’s all a memory



“Song for AG”

[Verse 1]

Born under a bad son

Out of the pain he was the one to succeed

He was my lover, he was my friend

But now he’s reached the end

A confused and rebellious boy,

But he somehow made his way

But all the anguish led him to decay


Fly away, somewhere you won’t be in pain

Fly away, somewhere you won’t drown in vain

Oh Adam, you know you’re cynicism kept you strong

[Verse 2]

Through all you masked to the world

I loved you even when you were cold

Cause deep inside you were warm

And that’s how I remember you

The boy at the football game

That I kissed behind the bleachers

You wouldn’t let me have white candy

On Halloween cause you knew it would hurt me

You really cared enough to stop me



“South of Mission”

[Verse 1]

Like a headwind on your downhill

Where we live south of Mission

On the lower Westside

Where the homes are old

But neighborhood’s filled with pride

South of Mission

Cracks in our sidewalks

Boys hangin’ out in front of the liquor store


We are South of Mission, where we call home

South of Mission, we’ve got heart and soul to give

South of Mission, that’s where we live

[Verse 2]

Head North up the highway

Not too far until the fancy cars

Land of castles, separated by just one mile

But it feels like you’ve gone to Mars

North of Mission, oh

The land of opportunity

North of Mission,

Where I’d kind of like to be


[Verse 3]

Living so closely

To the world of the mighty high

Sometimes makes me feel like

I’m South of all those people up there

But South of Mission’s where

We’re down to Earth

Living each day for all its worth

South of Mission’s where our heart beats with love



“Summertime Chime” 

[Verse 1]

Sittin’ in the shade, sun is creepin’ closer

Just another inch and I’ll have to move over

It’s hot as jalapenos on your tongue,

Hot as jalapenos in the sun

Wind!  Chimes!  Blowin’ in the wind

Chimes don’t rhyme with my musical rhyme

Wind!  Chimes!  Blowin’ in the wind

Chimes out of time with my musical design


Summertime, summertime chimes (x2)

[Verse 2]

I’m kickin’ up my feet, not going anywhere

Spend the day just doing what I care

The birds in the trees all agree with me

Singing along in perfect harmony


[Verse 3]

Wind!  Chimes!  Blowin’ in the wind

Chimes don’t rhyme with my musical rhyme

Wind!  Chimes!  Blowin’ in the wind

Chimes out of time with my musical design




[Verse 1]

Only thirteen, baby of three girls

Look into the mirror, see my dark eyes

Sinking into a velvet sea of escape

Makes it all feel better, til it fades away


A skinny little girl looks in the mirror

Only thirteen, my perfect world is gone

[Verse 2]

Look into my eyes, I’m crying out inside

Save myself the pain, go for a magic carpet ride

I don’t feel a thing, floating high above

Until the morning crashes down



It’s not okay, I’ve lost myself in the storm

Need a lifeline

Somebody to save me from myself

[Verse 3]

Can I go back to the days, when I was just a little child

When the world was right, everything all right

But people die, mothers and even fathers cry

Our family’s broken, I’m holdin on to thin air



“Yes You Are” 

[Verse 1]

Sometimes she gets tired, tired of being tired

Working at a dead-end job

Dreaming of a life,

She has visions in her mind

Living in a big house, traveling the world

She wants to be a rockstar, rocking hard

Rock, rock, rock star


Yes you are, yes you are,

A real rockstar [x2]

[Verse 2]

Trying to make every dollar last

Stretch it out to connect the dots

Just think positive, Mama always said

But it’s hard to do when you’re living on a thread

She wants to be a rockstar, every night she’s rocking hard

Lost in a happy world, playing that guitar



She’s looking for an answer, looking for a savior

Doesn’t she know it’s all within her

Honey it’s time to rock and roll



California Enduro Series MidTour Update: A Beginner’s First Mountain Bike Racing Season

This year, I am racing my first season of the California Enduro Series, or CES.  After years of riding, I am finally dipping my toes in the world of mountain bike racing.  I did the Sea Otter Classic enduro races the last few years, and the Santa Cruz Old Cabin Classic as my first races.  This year I committed to doing seven races: the 2017 Sea Otter (see previous blog post Flow of A Ride: Sea Otter Classic 2017), and six of the eight CES races.  I’ve been learning lots of valuable lessons along the way, and committing to the series has certainly changed the way I’m riding in my free time these days.  Now that I’m half-way through the series, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect upon my progress thus far.

CES Round 1: Mammoth Bar: May 6, 2017

On Saturday, May 6, the series kicked off at the Mammoth Bar OHV area near Auburn, California.  To get a sense of the race, watch this short Video Here.  

Pre-riding a course seems like an obvious thing to do before racing it.  I had rented a car on Friday, leaving work at 2:30 p.m. for Auburn.  Silly me.  The Bay Area traffic has become insufferable at certain times of day, proving to be the case.  I sat in line for the 680 North onramp from Mission Boulevard in Fremont for 25 minutes, moving literally about 10 feet, all the while watching SigAlert get redder and redder as the minutes crept on.  It would probably have taken me about six hours to get to Auburn with the traffic that lay ahead.  I decided then that I would turn around and go back home, forfeiting my opportunity to preride the course, but saving my attitude and happiness.  I was back home to Ben Lomond in less than an hour, and riding my bike that evening.  Of all the things in life that really bother me, which I’d like to think of as very few, traffic nears the top of that list.  In hindsight, I should’ve taken the day off of work and driven up in the morning when the roads were clear.  

Lesson #1 learned on this tour: go up the day before (or sooner) to preride the course whenever possible!  

I woke up at 4:30 a.m. the next morning, pouring my coffee and heading out by 4:45.  At that time of day, traffic is virtually non-existent.  As much as I hate waking up early, I admit I love this early hour for road travel.  I made it up to Auburn in a few hours, but got a tiny bit lost finding the Mammoth Bar OHV Trailhead where the race was due to start.  My GoogleMaps directed me to some park headquarters office a few miles down the road, so I hied it back to the actual start after calling my husband for some guidance, who was able to quickly look online at home versus me waiting for spotty mobile data to load on my phone.  By the time I found the trailhead, all of the racers were lining up at the start of Stage 1.  I parked my car, kitted up as quickly as I could, and set out up the steep, paved hill I’d just driven down to the start of the first stage.  

Upon my arrival, I was the last of a handful of Beginner Women, my racing category, lining up to start in 30-second intervals.  I exchanged a few brief hellos with the women, who seemed more welcoming and cool than my admittedly stereotypical presumption that most racers have some level of attitude: that in-your-face, I’m-better-than-you-and-I-know-it presence I’ve seen among some riders on the trail.  Perhaps this is just a misperception on my part, judging by how nice these girls were.  There were 10 of us total, and I went last.  The first stage was pedaly and relatively flattish, meandering up and down crumbled metamorphic rocks.  I passed one girl, and finished just behind another.  I felt pretty good for my first run in a new place.  

The Enduro racing format is based upon your cumulative Stage times, so once you finish a timed stage (you wear a computer chip to log your runs), you can relax a little on the untimed transfer stages in between.  I climbed what I heard others begrudgingly called the Mile of Terror, or something like that; it was essentially a relentless climb up a fireroad, which many people were pushing their bikes up.  I enjoy a good climb, so climbed that fireroad all the way up to the top without stopping.  Although it felt good to pass people on the way up (“They should have a category for fastest to the top!” I silently mused), it didn’t help me in the long-run: my Stage 2 start time wasn’t for two more hours.  2 hours to kill sitting around, watching the Pro’s, Experts, Sport, and Beginner Men’s categories all go before us.  There were water jugs and port-a-potties, and about a couple hundred riders waiting around in various groups.  People shared the 411 on their gear; debates about whether 27.5” or 29” tires were better for the course carried on.  A group of energetic teenage boys jeered each other playfully, poking fun and psyching themselves up.  One of them looked very familiar: it was my former student from the sixth grade, Conor!  Always a nice kid and a great athlete, I was happy to see him here at the race.  

“Miss Craig!” he recognized me.  I still love hearing my maiden name, seeing as how it’s barely been two years since I’ve been Mrs. Deetz.

We said “hi” and chatted about the race before I went down to a viewing area alongside the trail.  About thirty or so people were lined up along a drop in the trail, and the riders were coming through on the verge of control every half minute or so.  We all cringed as a few of them lost control and flew over their handlebars, eating dirt before quickly getting up and continuing along the course.  Lesson #2: If you fall but you can still ride, by all means get up and keep going.  Bruises, cuts, and scrapes can all be cleaned up, iced, and elevated later.  Surely you’ll know if you’re too hurt to keep on riding.  I’ve had a few minor falls in races now, and each time I hurried back onto my bike and kept going, losing ten seconds or less per time.  The end-goal would be not to fall at all during a race, of course.  But that’s simply not the reality for most riders, professional or beginner, I’m learning.

By the time the second stage was due to start, I was hungry, tired, and my muscles were cold and tight.  I’d been talking with the girls in my group, relaxing as we all agreed to have ghost riders for the rest of the race, since we were the last to go.  A “ghost rider” adds an extra 30-seconds behind you, so instead of the next racer starting 30-seconds behind you, they start one-minute later.  It reduces the chance of them catching up to you, which, for many of us beginners, can be a disconcerting feeling.  Being passed can be nerve-wracking.  You hear the buzz of the cassette coming toward you like a dragonfly; you immediately look for a safe place to quickly pull off the trail and let the approacher pass.  However, there aren’t always convenient places to do so, and it can be tricky to pass.  The few times I’ve been passed, I had good places to pull over, and clearly communicated that with the incoming rider, allowing them to flow past me without slowing down.  One of the things I get nervous about is interrupting someone’s flow by bogging on a pass.  So taking a ghost-rider is a great way to reduce that chance.  

The second, third, and fourth stages of the race all flowed like butter.  Despite being new to the trails, I felt at home on the style of mountainous terrain.  I really enjoyed the shale rock, dense yet crumbly, finely ground to a silt in the depths of trail corners.  The last stage #4 was the most fun: a flow-trail of well-banked berms and turns through oak woodland, finishing down at the race headquarters, where the smell of barbeque beckoned us from the hilltop.  

After finishing the race, I felt like I’d flown through it.  

“I think I might’ve won,” I thought to myself.  I had some lunch and hung around with people after the race before they announced they didn’t have it together to have a Podium awards ceremony that evening; I wouldn’t get to find out how I placed or if I won.  Around 4:45 that afternoon, I got in the car and headed home, feeling happy with how the day went.  

When I got home and saw Ron, I was telling him how the race went and how I felt like I might’ve actually won.  “By a minute and twenty-nine seconds?” he asked (he’d gone online and seen the results, clearly).  That’s when I knew: I had won first place!  Not only had I gotten first in my Beginner Women’s category, but I also would’ve placed first in the Sport 35+ category above that.  I jumped around my living room emphatically celebrating, pumped up like I’d won money or something.  This was my first time winning any kind of official race, and it felt amazing.  Finally!

After winning that race, I signed up for the rest of the series.  From that point on, I was committed.

Mammoth Bar 3Mammoth Bar 2

Mammoth Bar 1
480 is #1!


CES Round 2: Toro Park: May 27, 2017

Watch the Video Recap Here to get a sense of this course.

Toro Park is part of Fort Ord National Monument near Salinas, California.  I’ve ridden the trails of Fort Ord several times; the Sea Otter Classic is held across the park closer to Monterey.  These trails are notoriously sandy: loose, beach sand style pits sneak up on you and trap you; slide-outs on the corners are almost unavoidable.  Sand is not my favorite soil type to ride on.  The trails I ride in Santa Cruz are mostly a nice loam (clay, sand, and humus blend, heavy on the humus with all the redwood forest duff).  The clays compact and make the trails tacky and trustworthy. Sand, on the other hand, keeps you on your toes; you can’t fully relax riding in it, or you’ll likely fall (like I have, many times).  I’ve been riding a place called Bear Mountain near my house which is known for its sandy trails just to get better on the sand; it’s helped, but I’ve still got some work to do.  

I managed to pre-ride half of the course the Friday before the race; Ron (my husband) and I went down after work and rode stages 2 and 3 (there were 4 total stages).  

On race day, I showed up nearly late, again.  Lesson #3: Give yourself plenty of time to get ready for your race.  I hurried up to the start of Stage 1, and had a small slide-out in a sandpit.  I was fine, but my left elbow was literally sandburned.  I kept going, but was humbled by that fall from there on out.  I was more timid in my approaches, although I did get a stage win on Stage #2.  I finished the race feeling like I could’ve gone a bit faster, especially on the last stage, which was a pedaly surprise to me.  

I placed third in this race.  Although it was nice to place so high out of 16 women, it didn’t feel as good as winning first.  I admit I was a tiny bit disappointed.  But I only had myself to blame: I lived an hour away, but how much had I pre-ridden the course?  Just once, and only half the course.  Sand may not be my home in terms of dirt, but there’s only one way to get better at something.  Again: pre-ride whenever possible!


CES Round 4: China Peak: July 1, 2017

Check out this video of the action: China Peak Recap

Of all the stops on the tour, China Peak loomed like a fogbank.  Stories of untrustworthy, loose rubble, and awful crashes sprinkled my narrative.  I’d never been there before, but heard it was one of the gnarlier stops on the CES tour.  Everyone from the pros to the beginners seemed to have a horror story to share about falling there, and on race-day, arm-slings, bloody clothes, and tales of flying over the bars were all the buzz.  Such a comforting way to begin a race somewhere new!  

I’d planned to drive up on Friday 6/30 to preride the course.  But snag after snag held me up at home, starting with snoozing my alarm at 6:30 a.m.  Slept in til 9:00; woke up to my back tire leaking air; 4th of July holiday weekend traffic was building up.  I basically blew my chance to get up early and preride.  The worst part was I would have to figure up how to make that four hour drive by 7:30 a.m. the next morning…

I woke up like a zombie at 3:30 a.m. Saturday morning; poured my coffee, jumped in the car.  No one was on the road, and I made it to China Peak in only 3.5 hours!  Epic time. Got my race-plates and wrist chip at check-in; attended the Racer Meeting at 7:45.  It was already hot and sunny, and the altitude of 7,000’ at the base of the mountain was reminding me to down more water.  Hydration is always one of my top priorities.  Water, water, water…just like a fish.

I had time to take a short one-hour power nap in the back of my Outback.  This helped recharge me for the race.  Our start time was 10:45 a.m., and at about 10:00 a.m. I loaded my bike onto the chairlift to get to the top of Stage 1 (this was the only stage of the race where we’d get to ride the lift).  I met some cool girls at the top of the stage who’d preridden (smartly so) the day before.  I got some trail beta from them: watch the deep, silty corners that can grab you; stay right on the rock garden section about half-way down; look out for the deep mudpits and board bridge at the bottom.  I had watched several YouTube videos of the race in the week prior, and felt intimidated by what I’d seen, and now what I was hearing from the girls.  I really felt like a dumb-ass in this moment for not making it up to preride.  Especially when I read it on the China Peak recap: “China Peak is not a place to ride blind”.  Duh.  But it was too late.

I made it down Stage 1 with relatively good flow and grace for being blind on it.  No falls or close calls.  The dirt surely was loose and kept me far back on my bike, but so far, so good.  Stage 2 was a bit harder, but I felt more comfortable on the terrain by this point. Upon finishing the second lap, the climb up to Stage 3 presented itself like a laughing clown: “Haha, all you mountain bikers who think you’re in such great shape!  See how you do against my wall of a crumbly climb in this heat, at this altitude!”  I’d heard it was a tough climb, and it proved so right away.  People were pushing their bikes up the steepest sections (myself included); the little amounts of shade that spotted the trail were occupied by weary, sweaty riders trying to regain their composure.  

By the time I made it to the top, I was definitely feeling exhausted from my alpine start and long morning.  I felt like I could take a nap.  I sat for about 20 minutes in a shady spot, eyes closed every now and then, to just really unplug and rest.  This might’ve been the wrong move, however.  By the time I lined up for my last lap at the top of Stage 3, I felt too relaxed, tired, and hungry: all I could think of was food waiting for me at the bottom of the mountain.  To add to my feeling of being underprepared, riders started telling me about the lap: it was the hardest lap of our race (mind you the Pro’s and Experts also road a 4th and 5th stage, which were even harder), and lots of people had crash stories from a particularly challenging rock garden section.  Awesome.  All I could do was try it and do so within my limits; I didn’t want to lose control and crash.  

I started Stage 3 with loose, tight turns, and about halfway down the mountain, the granite started to appear.  Entering the rock garden, I thought to myself, “Keep right”.  I was far left, however.  There was a crowd of people lined up alongside the trail watching and cheering, which can be distracting.  I lost my flow and grace and took a little fall here, nothing bad but enough to lose about 10 seconds.  Quickly got back on the bike to keep going, but as anyone knows who’s fallen, it’s sometimes harder to get going again once you’ve lost that flow.  Sure enough, I took a small fall again just a few feet later.  Argh!  Another 10 seconds lost of recombobulating myself.  Surprisingly, I navigated the rest of that rock garden with some poise, actually taking a graceful line down one of the sketchiest sections.  Some redemption for my falls at the top.  There was a huge boulder at the end which you had to ride straight over the top of, or risk falling down the side of if you weren’t careful.  Cut over that like a waterski on water, nothing slowing me down.  Kept on until the finish of the stage a few minutes later, where I happily rested with some food and water among the finishers.  

I placed #2 in this race, not bad for riding it blind on little sleep.  I stuck around for the podium awards for my first time, and got to stand up there with my fellow Beginner Women to get our awards.  I was happy with my results, and contentedly exhausted.

There is nothing quite like the feeling of being done with a race.  I think it might be one of the best feelings around.  Before a race, there is so much anticipation.  Not quite anxiety-inducing, but enough to keep you up thinking about all the different variables (What’s the dirt like?  What kind of tire pressure would be best?  I hope I do well!).  There is so much preparation: booking hotels or campsites; planning the drive; packing up the car; bringing back-up supplies just in case; mentally making sure you’re feeling confident, calm, and in charge.  So by the time the race is actually done, that relief is a huge reward.  It just feels so good to finish something you started!  Especially something hard.


After the race

As I reflect upon my race progress halfway through the CES, I’m definitely learning a lot on the way.  Not just practical lessons (like the importance of preriding a course), but emotional, mental, and physical lessons as well.  The obligation of having to do something?  I admit it’s made me rebel subconsciously; I find myself making excuses here and there for not riding.  When I’m supposed to do something, I have a tendency to rebel against it, which is funny, because I’m the only one telling myself I’m supposed to!  It’s not like anyone’s making me do these races.  I find my old rebellious ways coming back, and I have to laugh at myself; more importantly, laugh and then get back on the bike.  I’ve had to remind myself that regardless of how I place in these races, I love riding, and that’s really all that should matter.  Yet adding in the element of race-training has definitely changed my rides a bit.  I work harder; I try to climb faster.  Tightroping between your top speed and staying in control is a constant balancing act for any rider. Surely, speed is important for winning a race.  But it’s nothing without the control and grace to get you to the bottom in one piece.  

I am not overly concerned about being the “best” rider out here.  My main challenge with racing at the moment is purely mental: how can I tune out the background noise and distractions?  How can I bring my A-game to any venue, anywhere, in any conditions, and still demonstrate flow and grace?  How can I focus on riding my best, despite how my competitors are riding?  Learning to just stay in my zone is one of my main goals during this competition.  

Occasionally I wish I’d gotten into mountain bike racing at a younger age.  Looking at the U-18 groups of teens, and I can see myself among those boisterous, youthful riders.  I don’t spend a lot of time regretting things that can’t be changed in the past, but do sometimes wonder where I’d be if I’d started this journey at a younger age instead of 36 years old.  I suppose the same could be said about other hobbies and interests.  But at least I am trying now.

I currently rank #2 overall in the Beginner Women category, and would love to finish in the top 3 by the end of the series.  Here’s hoping!   Of course, I would love to “prove” myself competitively.  Winners are determined by taking your top 6 race results (out of the 8 total races).  I have three more stops on the tour: Round 5: Big Bear “Crafts & Cranks” Enduro, Round 6: NorthStar, and Round 7: Kamikaze Bike Games in Mammoth.  Until next time…back out to the trails!

Where Is The “Top of the Hill”?

Acme. Summit. Apex. High point.

In life, we all have times of feeling on top of our game, at the top of the hill, so to speak. What defines these peaks depends upon many facets: physical health, intellectual vigor, emotional well-being, and active creative expression.  The latter three aspects are fluidly available for edification at all times of our lives, from age seven to age one hundred and thirteen.  But the first – physical health – is finite, its looming shelf life throwing all other aspects of my life into question.  

At thirty-six years old, I ponder the age-old question so many have wrestled with before: “Am I at the top of the hill?”  We all know what’s after that peak: being “over the hill”.  On the other hand, can my potential emotional, intellectual, and creative growth collectively outweigh the physical decline of my body?  How much of my happiness depends upon my physical well-being, and to what degree so?  

Until about a year ago, I felt like I was sixteen years old – no injuries or major physical ailments.  I could go for a long mountain bike ride, play a full game of soccer, and garden into the evening with energy to spare.  Though I had occasional muscle soreness, I never felt like I was aging until I turned 35.  Insidiously, my left hip and shoulder began aching more and more.  There was a new level of exhaustion I hadn’t felt before after a long run.  Suddenly it hit me: I was getting older.  Time was running out to accomplish the things I wanted to do in my short life.  

I learned recently that even if you live everyday as your last, even if you really appreciate your life and don’t take things for granted, time still passes by; there is an end to everything.  Even if you enjoy yourself as much as you can, nothing lasts forever.  There will be an end to that peak, that summit of life.  I feel like I have lived most of my life with this awareness.  I have a zealous appreciation for life, taking advantage of most everyday, realizing how little time we actually have.  But now that I feel my body starting to slow down, I see the “end” getting closer, and I admit it kind of scares me.  

When we’re young, it seems like we have years upon years ahead of us to look forward to.  Time is no concern; we’ll be able to do anything we want to do.  As we get older, those years become less and less; suddenly, looking ten years into the future means looking at a whole different decade, not just more of the same youthful continuum.  

I should take a moment to briefly summarize my overall philosophy about life: I am a nihilistic, optimistic realist.  

I truly believe that nothing really matters over the long-run.  Deep Time, measured in eons, not centuries, provides a calming, comforting perspective.  I like knowing that I am not even a register in the timeline of Earth; that in two hundred years, I will likely be completely forgotten forever.  No problem really matters.  The universe is so vast, and its magnificent magnitude show me just how small I am.  This isn’t being cynical or depressed, but having a detached perspective that has kept me afloat over the years, and kept me from sinking during difficult times.  Believing that nothing really matters has made some things easier to overcome, right or wrong.

Although I never look forward to going through a good old hard time in life, more often than not, getting through them can create a new gratitude and passion for life.  It’s a very long story that I’d like to get into more someday, but I had a rebellious, hard time as a young teenager; specifically, my eighth grade of middle school, and freshman year of high school.  There were challenging circumstances in both my own actions, and within my extended family.  I felt like nothing mattered, and that I certainly did not matter.  I guess you could generalize it as common teenage angst paired with some real-life tragedies, and both spiraled me into a hard period of time with some poor choices.  Long story short, I persevered on my own accord, starting my sophomore year of high school running out of the gate, full-speed all the way on to graduating with Honors and going to UC Santa Cruz for college.  I even received a scholarship from my high school for “overcoming adversity”.  I also received the Physical Education Merit award for my commitment to fitness.  I realize now just how meaningful those two awards were.  

That time as an early teenager ultimately instilled a rock-solid faith within myself.  I trust myself like the sunrise after some of the challenges I’ve risen to.  From my nihilistic tendencies a realistic optimist was born.  Believing that nothing really mattered freed me to really appreciate, to live fully, and to be more open; to be honest, real, and authentic.  It invited me to curiously observe things as they were, realistically.  I realized that life wasn’t always rainbows and daisies, and that was okay.  The complexity of life is what makes it interesting.

It also made me realize that things do matter, while we are alive and experiencing them at least.  We feel that they matter, and that can be all that matters sometimes.  Keeping a Deep Time perspective all of the time is unrealistic.  While we’re here, we make all kinds of meaning of our memories and relationships with others.  Everything feels incredibly important.  And it ought to, for living with that sort of vivacious commitment to caring about one’s own affairs can lead to great happiness and satisfaction.  Our relationships with others create a network of vitality which sustains us throughout our lives.  In the time since my teenage years, I’ve grown far more appreciative of my life and loved ones.  Living like nothing matters doesn’t work so well as a married adult with a job and mortgage.

Which brings me back to aging.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown to value everything in my life more.  Which leads me back to the essential question of this post: how much does physical aging affect our ability to live life with the vigor, lust, and happiness that we have grown to love so much over the years?  Am I at the “top of the hill” right now?  

If you consider the wealth of wisdom, experience, and knowledge that an older person often has, I’d like to think they are still sitting happily atop the summit of life; that despite any misgivings of their physical health, they are mentally, emotionally, and spiritually more fulfilled than they were at my age.  Consider the faces of some of the happiest older people you may have seen: they smile from within, emanating light, peace, and acceptance.  Surely they are unhurried due to some physical slowing from age, but that unhurried pace also bestows a great awareness, a real “living in the moment” approach to life.  I look upon my elders with respect and awe, hoping to glean some grace from their ways.  

I also consider the endless breadth and depth of knowledge, known and unknown, in the universe.  There is so much to learn about!  Every time I pick up a new book, I am floored by something new I never even know about.  This discovery is exciting and motivating, keeping everyday full of possibilities.  When I think about legends like Stephen Hawking, who is arguably the poster-child for perseverance despite physical challenges, I am inspired beyond measure.  He is just one of many heroes in my eyes who simply awe me.  

I am not at the top of the hill, then, if I consider self-actualization as the definition of being there.  There is so much more I could always be!  Although I consider myself a happy person with a calm, content nature, there are many things left I’d like to accomplish and experience.  Though I am a teacher of eleven years, and have hopefully inspired at least some of those twelve and thirteen year-olds I’ve taught, I wonder if I could have a greater impact on the world. This sense of wanting “more” from life emerged about the same time I felt age paint its permanent lines on my face.  And as I begin the Summer of my thirty-sixth year, the urgency of time’s finity is at the forefront of my mind.  

I am actually running out of time to do some specific things.  As a woman, this particular age adds another element to aging: declining fertility.  I have no children yet, and I obviously don’t have many good years left to do so.  Whether Ron and I will have children remains a huge consideration for both of us.  At ten years my senior, Ron’s age definitely adds to my concern.  But we love our lifestyle together – we’re free to go for bikerides together anytime we want, go on snowboarding trips to Tahoe, stay up late – and we both highly prioritize recreation and fun. Some might call this “selfish”, but I see it as self-seizing.  We are seizing everyday, taking life by the reins.  Though we greatly enjoy the company of children, neither of us has a burning desire, at least not yet, to have our own.  However, we don’t want to look back on our lives and regret not having children when we had the chance.  I, especially, am struggling with this issue right now, since I am the one with the expiring shelf-life within the next ten years or sooner.  As we explore this life-changing possibility of having kids, I’ve got my eye on those sand grains passing through the hourglass.

Then there are the other things I’m running out of time to do.  I’ve already reconciled that music will forever be a hobby of mine, never a career of mine; it took me awhile to let my rock-and-roll fantasy go.  I also have reconciled with my gray hairs, which can make me look older than I feel.  I’ll never have to worry about being carded again (though I don’t even drink).

What I haven’t been able to reconcile with quite yet is the fact that I won’t be as physically fit as I am now forever.  A lot of my identity and personality are tied to physical activities and sports.  The threat of losing the ability to do those things is not appealing.  I admit it gives me some anxiety to think about losing my skillful ability to flow with grace over the land, whether it be on a snowboard, mountain bike, or my own two feet.  I feel most powerful and free when I’m in the groove of a physical activity.  The joy from that movement is spiritually fulfilling, making me feel more connected to the earth.  I hope I am lucky to live long into my life with full motion.  I may not be mountain biking downhill at ninety, but if I can still walk around on my own volition, I think that would be enough for me.  

Does everyone feel their identity is closely tied to their physical prowess?  Whether you’re cooking a mean chili, designing a gorgeous ballgown, or moving your chesspiece in a move of checkmate, you need your body to do those things.  You don’t need to be a pillar of physical fitness, but you need your fingers to do the work.  Moreover, we need our bodies in our day-to-day lives.  When we can no longer do the things we want to do, I don’t think there’s any sugar-coating the frustration and disappointment that will surface.  Despite the sharpness of mind, happiness of heart, or elevation of spirit, this physical decline will be a tough pill to swallow no matter how you cut it.  However, I recall the old adage: getting old beats the alternative (the alternative being death, of course).  I wonder if I’ll feel that way should I be lucky enough to live into older age.

There’s another factor to consider in all of this: the unknown.  We never know how much time we have left, how many “good” years may lie ahead, or when our time is up once and for all.  I could die tomorrow, or at 113.  Just another reason to live life to the maximum every single day;  to appreciate just how far we’ve come, no matter where we are on the path of life.  It’s not a race to the end, after all.  The older I get, the more all the old cliches ring true: life’s a journey, not a destination.

Getting older does affect what kinds of possibilities are left for us in life, to some extent.  But does losing those possibilities put me “over the hill”?  Or will the combined future growth of my emotional, intellectual, and spiritual sides outweigh that physical decline?  I’d sure like to think the answer is yes.  As I sit here in my thirty-sixth year, seemingly the top of my physical “hill”, I hope it’s not downhill from here on out.  The success of the esteemed elders before me would certainly indicate otherwise.  

What do you define as your “hills” in life?  Which kind of “hill” is most important to you?  Most importantly, I now consider the question: are there not an infinite number of possible “hills” for us to triumph over the course of a lifetime?  Blessed may it be so.  


The Long Journey Home

From Rental Nightmare To Home Sweet Home

“Hi, this is Miss Craig,” I answered into the telephone.  It was March 13, 2014 at 3:15 p.m.  I was supervising an after school homework center in my classroom, and doing a crossword puzzle to unwind after a long day of teaching.

“Miss Craig, can you confirm that you are alive and well in a safe location?” the woman on the other end asked.  Initially thinking it was a former student playing a prank on me, I started laughing.  

“Um, yeah; I’m sitting here in my classroom just fine.  Is this some kind of joke?”

“No, Maam; this is the Santa Cruz Police Department, and this is not a prank.  Again, you can confirm that you are alive and well, in a safe location, Miss Craig?” the woman confirmed.

“Yes, yes,” I stuttered, a sudden rising pit of nerves in my stomach.  “Is everything okay?”

About Three Years Earlier…

Ron and I awoke in the middle of the night to a thunderous boom.  It sounded like a piece of furniture fell over next door.  Our unit shared a wall with our neighbors in the front house, a group of young Cabrillo College students.  They had just moved in, and their partying had made its ugly appearance.  We went outside, hearing the sound of a drunken wrestling match among the boys.  Ron knocked on the door.

“Hey; can you guys keep it down please?  We were just woken up and you guys are being really loud,” Ron stated.  This was the first time of endless times we would ask our neighbors to please keep it down.  And as we learned, sometimes you have to knock loudly to get the attention you need.

Ron and I moved in together in 2006, living in a back granny-unit of an old Westside house in The Circles neighborhood.  We lived near a market, had a cool alley behind our house, and were only about half a mile from the beach.  It was an ideal location.  Sure, the house itself was quite run down: termite rot; low, sagging ceilings; surely some lead paint.  But our rent was cheap – $800.  And for the Westside of Santa Cruz, that was a steal.

We shared a thin wall with our front-house neighbors, who initially, were quiet, nice college students.  Sometimes their juicer woke us up early in the morning, but that was nothing compared to what lay ahead.  

First, it’s important to note how much I’ve always cared about home.  Not just any home, but my own home.  Something no one could take away from me; some definite piece of land that I could claim for all my days ahead.  Having grown up in the same house until age sixteen, I definitely appreciated the steadiness and familiarity of a stable home. Having moved about eight times since then, each move reaffirmed just how very much I wanted to go home.  And I wanted that home to be mine; not my mother’s house, not a friend’s house, but my own house.  I loved admiring the houses in Santa Cruz as I’d go for runs and bike rides through town.  I remember looking at housing prices when I was waiting tables on a slow lunch shift at a restaurant in Santa Cruz.  A co-worker and I were baffled by how expensive homes were.  Our boss, a local, just laughed.  “This is one of the most expensive places to live in the whole country.  You guys know that, right?”

We sure didn’t.  At twenty-one years old, I was naively dreaming of buying our rental house in Bonny Doon – still a dream property that I would offer all-cash for if I ever had the chance.  It was this age, fresh out of college at UC Santa Cruz, when I really realized how much I wanted a home, and just how challenging it seemed to get one in this town.  

By the time I was in my late twenties, I felt a true emotional void about what “Home” meant to me.  We were renting our place for dirt-cheap, but it was small and run-down.  On a teacher’s and surf-instructor’s salary, we weren’t looking too promising for buying a house.  Until the recession of 2008.  By 2009, housing prices fell so low I actually had a chance of getting in on the market.  I found a realtor, and looked at some homes for sale in the San Lorenzo Valley, where cabins were going for as little as $200,000.  I could afford it!  I was so excited.  We made an offer on two homes, both of which were rejected.  As inventory dropped and housing prices began to rise out of our reach, we decided to just keep renting our house in Santa Cruz.  The search was over.  

We were back to the late-night drunken wrestling brigade nextdoor, up close and personal.  By Summertime, the new crew of boys had turned up the volume.  Late-night parties with thumping music, shouting, and the constant banging of moving bodies on the thin, old floor would shake our house like an earthquake.  Ron was getting far less polite with them.  I’d awake to shouting outside, with Ron screaming at them to shut the hell up, and them belligerently arguing back, posturing like intoxicated roosters.  

It was laughable if it weren’t a nightmare.  We went to our landlord to complain, since we weren’t making any progress.  He said he’d “have a talk with them”, and things quieted down for awhile – as in for about a week.  We’d awaken to puke on our walkway, beer bottles on the front steps, cigarette butts on the ground, my plants would be stepped on…and nasty loogies from Salvia smoke-clogged lungs.  It was outright rude behavior. They were avid users of “Spice”, or synthetic marijuana, and had a chronic, productive cough as a result. It was painful to listen to them hack up a lung; try enjoying dinner listening to that.   Each time I would talk to them, I got lip service about how it was always their friends and not them doing the misbehaving; that they would try harder to keep it down.  But it just got worse.

By mid-Summer that year, we had complained many times to our landlord with no success.  He would make empty promises about regulating their behavior.  Cops were called multiple times; most of the time, they were too busy to show up for at least an hour, and when they did, didn’t do anything except tell them to be quiet.  It was so frustrating.  

Being woken up in the middle of the night to loud partying doesn’t just wake you up, it makes you irritated and angry – emotions that are hard to come down from and go back to sleep.  As a teacher, I have to wake up early, and I need all the sleep I can get.  I was cranky and exhausted, not a good combination.  

By Fall, by some stroke of luck, the loudest of the crew moved out.  However, their friends moved in.  We had quieter neighbors overall, but they would still invite the old tenants over to party. There was a lot of tension.  Ron and I decided to seriously find a new rental.  Determined, we began our search.  Nothing was panning out; everything was either overpriced, too far away, or just not good enough.

By May of 2013, the partying had increased up front again.  I wrote in my journal then:

“I wish I made more money.  More money so I didn’t have to live here with the loud college boys up front.  I sometimes wonder whether I’ll ever afford a house of my own.  We have been looking for a new house to rent to no avail.  I feel like I’m being kicked out of the place I love, the town I long to set up shop and build a home in.  I want to own a home.  So badly I feel like a crying child in a grocery store, forbidden to eat any of the wonderful food around; just looking.  Stuck in this stupid situation with (our landlord), who’s really been a slumlord to us.  Want to move out so badly – if not for how prohibitively expensive it would be”.  

Followed by a poem:


Dancing on the verge between hope and despair

One foot in, the other quaking on the edge

Waiting…infinitely waiting…

“Patience” does not surmise the voyage she takes, day after day

Holding on to fading rays of faith, a future path unfolds

The pieces lain

One giant foundation evolving

Until the critic butts in: “All is not perfect, Missy”, he scoffs with smug derision

For a few moments, he says his peace

But then she shows him the door

Proceeding forward, the only way how

The way to love.


I was feeling a little depressed about our housing situation by this point.  Unempowered, under a glass ceiling, just low.  Everything else in my life was going well enough, I reasoned, that I shouldn’t be so down.  But I felt so unsettled, knowing we weren’t in a good situation.  

I remember going for a run one day at Wilder Ranch.  It was cold and cloudy, dreary as I felt.  I was escaping the chaos of our housing problems, thinking about how much I would love to have my own home, where I wouldn’t have to deal with problems like these.  Home represented a cure; a relief; an end to the constant tension we were living in.  It was security, comfort, and safety, physically and emotionally.  Where that home was, I had no idea.

“I just want to go home!” I cried out loud into the vacant air, tears streaming down my face. Never had I let myself want something so much.

March 13, 2014

“Miss Craig, have you been at work all day?” the woman asked.

“Yes; I have been here since about 7:45 this morning.  What is going on?”  My anxiety about the situation was rising.  

“Ma’am, we need to put some eyes on you to be sure you’re okay.  We’ll be sending an officer to your site in a few minutes,” the woman explained.  My heart was now pounding out of my chest.  “Let me explain why.  We received a 911 call today from a man who identified himself as your neighbor.  He said he had heard you and your boyfriend fighting all morning.  Again, you’ve been gone all day?” she questioned.


“The caller reported that your boyfriend shot and killed you today, and that he was outside with a gun threatening to kill himself.”  

Have you ever had a moment where you heard something, but didn’t quite process it right away?  You hear the words being said, but there’s a disassociation from it?  Like it’s not real?  That’s exactly how I felt in this moment.  It felt like a prank from the old “Punk’d” tv show or something.

“Right now your boyfriend is being detained in front of your house.  Once we put eyes on you, you can go home.  Once you’re there, they’ll release him.”  

I sat in shock and confusion for a moment.  Your boyfriend shot and killed you, I kept hearing.  What the heck was going on?  

I told the students I was sorry but would have to leave early.  Within minutes, by coincidence, the father of one of my students showed up, a local policeman.  He was the “eyes” to verify that I was alive in the flesh, radioing in to his officers to confirm.

“Nice to see you, Officer.  This is crazy.  What is going on?” I asked worriedly.  
He was kind enough to explain what had happened.  They received a 911 call reporting a murder and possible suicide, and began an active-shooter protocol: locking down our neighborhood, calling in SWAT, and preparing for a possible standoff.  They had Ron in custody.  Clearly, I needed to hurry home.  

I drove home as quickly as I could, feeling the panic of the situation kick in.  Why was Ron being detained still?  Our neighborhood was on lockdown?  What could I expect to come home to?  

Turning on the street towards our house, I immediately noticed the fire engines, cops, and yellow tape around our circle.  Two news crew vans were parked.  A helicopter circled overhead.  It was like the armageddon had descended upon our neighborhood.  

I drove up toward the yellow tape, where an officer had blocked the road.  

“I’m Katrin Craig,” I said.  “I’m the one who was supposedly shot and killed today.”  

“Nice to see you, Katrin,” he replied.  I got out of my car, and showed him my driver’s license to once again confirm I was myself.  By that point a few officers had gathered around, and radioed that the “girl” was here.  

They escorted me under the yellow tape towards the house.  Ron was sitting in the distance on the sidewalk, hands cuffed behind his back, head down despondently.  The officers waved to each other, and uncuffed him.  By the time I’d made it to him, I hugged him tightly and cried for a moment.  The officers debriefed with us for a few minutes about the complex, bizarre drama that had just unfolded.

They had received a 911 call from the front unit.  When they arrived to investigate, they found the caller outside on the sidewalk succumbed to a grand mal seizure.  Apparently he’d been up on coke all night, and was delusional.  He was taken to the hospital, where he later made a full recovery (and was arrested for reporting a false crime).  Not knowing whether a legitimate risk still existed, they set up a perimeter around our house, including members of SWAT, and a sniper on our neighbor’s rooftop.  A team descended upon our neighborhood to deal with what was a potential crime scene.

As Ron was innocently eating a bowl of cereal on the living room couch, watching television, he heard some noises from outside the window.  When he pulled the blinds up to look out the window, he was startled to encounter three guns on him.  Ron described the fear in their eyes as they repeatedly yelled, “Let me see your hands!”.  He immediately dropped to the floor with his hands up, and they told him to crawl out the living room window.  Once outside, at this point in our neighbor’s backyard, they detained him in handcuffs.  Who was he?  I live here.  Where is Katrin Craig?  At work since this morning.  They walked Ron out to the street, where neighbors and some press had gathered.  They didn’t tell him right away what was going on.  

Next, they searched our house for my body.  Our laundry pile was picked through like a rummage sale; the bed had been moved; closet items moved.  After finding nothing and Ron repeatedly saying whatever was going on was some kind of mistake, they finally called me at work to see if he was telling the truth; they couldn’t let him go until they saw me in person.    

By the time I got home and Ron was released, it had been nearly an hour.  That hour was the impetus of a months-long battle for justice.  The scariest part of this whole story is that Ron could’ve been killed.  One wrong move in front of SWAT with guns could’ve resulted in him being shot.  You hear about it on the news often enough.  That’s what got me: I could’ve lost the man I love.  That was my breaking point, when the gloves came off.  It ended up being the swift kick into action that we needed to finally get out of our bad living situation.  Ron was at his wits end with our landlord’s negligence; we had complained for over two years about loud neighbors, only to have their friends move in and continue the trend.  It was time for action.

Newspaper Article

The First Trial

“I’m suing (our Landlord) in small claims court,” he declared.  

I was initially against the idea.  “We’ll probably lose; we can’t afford a lawyer,” I reasoned.  It seemed like a bad path to take.  

“Think of all the suffering we’ve endured: lost hours of sleep, peace, and quiet; I could’ve gotten shot; aren’t you tired of all this?  Aren’t you tired of having the same conversations about it?  It’s like Groundhog Day!” he explained.  

Yes, I was exhausted of all this.  To the point of defeat. I was stressed out and losing sleep.  All I wanted to do was go home.  To a home that was ours, a home that was peaceful.

Ron morphed into a paralegal over the next month, gathering all kinds of evidence: phone records of all the times he’d called the cops (and the landlord to complain); rental agreements; a calendar log he’d kept of every night we were woken up; a pro-rated nightly rate multiplied by all the nights disturbed totaling close to $10,000.  He cited our tenant’s rights, including sleep, and peaceful enjoyment of the property.  

He filed his papers to start the small-claims court process of suing our landlord.  I didn’t want to be involved.  The tension of our living situation was bad enough.  I told him he was on his own for the court day.  Ron was by himself, representing himself, with all the evidence he had gathered.  He and the landlord couldn’t reach a compromise, even with the landlord’s attorney.  Ron won that judgment – $4,800.  But within two weeks, our landlord had filed an appeal of that judgment.  Once I knew there would be an appeal is when I got defensive.  I was ready to go to the appeal with him and speak to the misery and headache the whole ordeal had been.  

The Appeal

He had tried to settle with us before going to trial with a paltry sum of $2,500, and to move out within 60 days, an offer we flatly rejected before entering the courtroom for our hearing.

“You’re representing yourself, Mr. Deetz?” the judge asked quizzically.  

“Yes, Your Honor,” Ron replied, standing stoically in his pressed, neat suit and tie.  

I was so proud sitting next to him, though I was nervous as a deer, at the mercy of the big lions of the court, and our landlord’s professional hired attorney.  I was intimidated by his nice suit and dismissive glances at us.  But when he had tried to settle with us pretrial with a paltry, insulting offer of $2,000 and move out in 60 days, I wasn’t so scared of him anymore.  I knew we were in the right, and what our experience had amounted to over the past few years.  I was ready to fight for us.  

Ron eloquently presented all of his evidence from the first trial, plus added material.  To refute the landlord’s lawyer’s claim that no one else complained about noise, Ron obtained a written letter from our neighbor stating he was hard of hearing, and had slept through a huge car accident recently.  He wouldn’t hear our neighbors partying even if it were a concert.  Ron presented pictures of gang tags on our front porch, made by our partying neighbors and their friends.

And then I got to speak.  I am not a good actress; I have to genuinely feel something to express it.  I had rehearsed the points I wanted to make: I was a teacher who got up early each day; how many times and ways we’d tried to resolve the problem to no avail.  I even showed him before and after pictures of how I’d landscaped the property.  I’d lived there almost 9 years at that point.  To be bullied out of our home by constant noise wasn’t right.  I looked our landlord in the eye from across the room and said, “I came to you in tears begging you to do something about the problem. You did nothing.”  It felt so good to speak my truth, from the heart.  I delivered my message.  I am not a big “vengeance” person, but I felt justified.

When our landlord’s lawyer went to present his information, he was less than composed.  He stuttered to find his forms; he kept asking me what my job was, and how if I was a teacher, wasn’t I used to noise?  

The judge keenly interrupted his train of thought.  “Where exactly are you going with this?”  

The lawyer didn’t recover well.  He changed tactics.  “They’re a couple of young punks trying to swindle an old man out of his money,” he argued.  

“Sir, I’m 44 years old, and she’s 33.  Clearly we’re not young punks,” Ron corrected.  

“Your rent is so cheap, you guys are lucky you have a place at all,” the lawyer tried.  

“It doesn’t matter what the price of the rent is; if you pay for an agreed upon service, you get it.  It’s the principle of the matter, Sir,” the judge said sternly to our landlord.

We had schooled him.  He had nothing against everything we’d presented.  As we waited for the judge to decide, I had a good feeling.  When we were called back into the courtroom, I felt butterflies in my stomach.  The judge addressed us all.

“I’ve had time to review the evidence for this case, and I have to say, this is a case of serious negligence on your part, Mr. Landlord.  You cannot ignore your tenant’s complaints when their rights are being repeatedly violated.  It’s shameful, and if you don’t change your ways, you’re going to find yourself right back in this courtroom in another six months with another judgment against you.  I am siding with Mr. Deetz, awarding him damages of $9,600, and you’ll need to pay his court filing fees.  You should learn from this experience.  It doesn’t matter how cheap the rent is, Mr. Landlord, a tenant’s rights are a tenant’s rights to enjoy.”  

My heart dropped.  He said more than that, but it was everything I wanted to hear.  I didn’t care so much about the money (though it certainly came in handy later).  The justice of the situation made me feel vindicated and free.  Ron and I nearly skipped out of that courthouse, elated by the ruling in our favor.  

Within a month of the ruling, we’d received half of our money, and an eviction notice to be out in 60 days.  This would seem obvious, surely.  You sue your landlord, you’re probably going to get kicked out.  Ron didn’t quite see it that way, his spite still flowing strong from the last trial.

“He can’t evict us; that’s retaliation,” he argued.  “Furthermore, he still hasn’t dealt with the problem.  You would think after two judgments he would learn.”  We were still being disturbed by loud partying up in the front house.  I sighed.  Was he really going to fight this?

Rents on the Westside were going for $2,500 – $3,500 for a basic two-bedroom house, or apartment even.  It was ridiculously competitive.  We’d show up at rental showings with thirty other people.  And we didn’t really have a reference for our last rental either, to say the least.  

It was Winter break from school, and I decided to look into buying a house again.  The housing market had tanked again, and my teacher salary had risen since I last looked in 2009.  If we were going to pay $2,500/month on rent, why not put it toward owning a home of our own?  

Home Sweet Home

It was a symphony of serendipity that allowed me to end up buying my own home.  I found a great realtor and loan officer, who creatively found four loans and programs to qualify me for a home loan.  I looked at homes in the San Lorenzo Valley in the Santa Cruz Mountains, where I could barely eke into the housing market.  

It wasn’t long until I found it – a modest 800 ft² two-story house on about half an acre in Ben Lomond.  It had high ceilings with huge windows upstairs, airy and open like a cabin.  There was a small stream in the backyard, and plenty of garden space.  Its asking price of $370,000 was pretty much my loan approval limit.

By January 23, 2015, I was in escrow for that house.  I couldn’t believe it was happening.  By that point, Ron had filed another lawsuit against our landlord for wrongful eviction. I was busy enough in escrow, and said I wanted nothing to do with it.  Only a month later, he had another trial and won another $5,000, and agreed to move out by the end of March since we were moving anyway.  Ron was happy, but I just wanted to get our things and move out of there.

Escrow was a long process with many bureaucratic delays and snags, but on Friday, March 13, 2015, we officially became homeowners.  Ron and I were ecstatic.  We had also gotten engaged one month earlier on Friday, February 13.  I’m not superstitious, but I think it’s neat that both happened on Friday the 13’s.

I can’t explain the heartwarming, pure joy I felt when we got our keys.  It was real.  All the tears, years of dreaming and planning, were coming to fruition.  It wasn’t a “dream house” per se, but I didn’t care; I was just happy to get in at all.  For years I heard how hard it was to own a home as a teacher in this area.  Everyday I am grateful for this house and the future it represents; I love working on projects around the house and in the garden.   Although life is unpredictable and you never know what the future holds, I do feel more grounded and secure now being a homeowner.

I look back on our years of living on the Westside, and know that it, too, was home.  Home can be where ever you make it, as they say; where ever the heart is.  For the decade Ron and I lived there, that house served as the backdrop for countless good memories.  But we had outgrown it, and it was high time to move on to a new home.  

Home is where we are now, and it’s nice to actually own it.  

It certainly was a long journey home.  

Flow of A Ride: Sea Otter Classic 2017

A Beginner’s Foray Into Mountain Bike Racing

The Sea Otter Classic is the world’s largest cycling festival, taking over the Laguna Seca Mazda Raceway for four days every year since 1990.  There are dozens of bicycling races: everything from Criterium to Cross-Country, Downhill Mountain Biking to the newly added E-Biking.  Thousands of people flock to this beautiful area near Monterey, California to celebrate two wheels in motion, as I did today on April 20, 2017 for fun in the sun on Day 1 of the festivities.


Today was my third year racing at the Sea Otter Classic in the Open Women’s Enduro Mountain Bike race.  For anyone unfamiliar with what “Enduro” is, it’s basically a category of racing that combines downhill and cross-country trails, which are divided into timed laps.  Your cumulative time ranks you, so you can relax a bit on the untimed transfer sections in between the laps.  It’s about 15 total miles.  I’ve only done one race where we were timed consecutively from start-to-finish, the Santa Cruz Old Cabin Classic, and it felt like a lot more pressure to keep going.  I like the format of the Enduro better so far.  Today was my fourth race ever, and it definitely felt like the best!

I arrived around 7:30 a.m., and checked in for my racing bib and wristband.  There was a heavy drizzle, but tons of excitement in the air.  Probably every bicycling and mountain biking company in the world have booths set up in the pit of the raceway; bikes of all kinds are going every which way; enticing aromas are brewing at the food tents.  By about 7:50, I proceeded to practice the Downhill Course (Stage 1), along with hundreds of other riders, literally.  With a 9:18 a.m. race-time, I figured I had plenty of time.  The line moved at a snail’s pace, however, taking about 45 minutes to get to the start.  I had a great practice lap, and took advantage of the shuttle back up to the start.  By the time I made it up to the top of the Downhill Course, though, it was 9:22!  I lined up at the end of my group, with only about six girls left to go in front of me; I barely made it on time.  And I didn’t have time to practice the Dual Slalom course.

True Faith

The rest of my ride was full of flow and grace; no falls or close-calls.  I pushed my speed, but maintained good control.  I enjoyed myself more, appreciating the ubiquitous wildflowers and birds.   It was much better than the first year I rode in 2015, when I made all kinds of rookie mistakes.  I practiced the Dual-Slalom three times in the morning before the race, thinking it was the Downhill course.  By the time I realized the race was starting, I had to hurry over to the actual downhill course, having never ridden it.  I rode it too fast and ate it face-first on the downhill.  Although I was bleeding a little and had a dirty face, I was fine, so I continued riding.  I got off-course, however, and rode the Dual Slalom again (the fourth time that morning), before riding stages 2 and 3.  I fell on a sandpit section of the second stage, but was okay.  By the time I got to the Dual Slalom lap that actually counted, it was my fifth time doing it that day, and clearly an advantage.  I rode it in 56 seconds, not bad compared to others.  This proved one of the most obvious lessons: the more you practice a course, the better you’ll do.

In 2016, I raced again, and did better; I felt more familiar with the course, and had returned to practice riding the trails of Fort Ord National Monument all of two times.  My rank went up a little (I was 36 out of 48), but mostly I was happy I didn’t fall!  I enjoyed the experience a lot more, knowing a little more of what to expect.

This year, I specifically trained on the sandy trails of Bear Mountain, near my house in Ben Lomond.  The topography is quite similar to Fort Ord, with lots of variations of sandstone – everything from pits of beach sand to tacky, grippy, compacted sand.  I don’t typically ride there often, but it’s been a great place to work on my skills in the sand. However, nothing compares to riding the actual location, and I probably should’ve made time to preride the course this year.  Nothing compares to practicing the actual trails; duh!  I wish we’d have more mountain bike races on the trails of Santa Cruz, where I am at home.  I know I’d do better than I did in this race.  Although I’d still like to improve, I went up in rank this year, improving by 33 seconds from last year (15:45 compared to 16:18, cumulative times); a 7% percentile improvement in overall rank.  I’ll take it!

Why am I trying to race at all?  Self-edification.  Growth and improvement are important to me.  I love a good challenge, physically and mentally.  Setting a goal and working toward it motivates me and keeps me excited about life.  I also feel like I have some unfinished business in the realm of competitive sports.  It’s a long story, but after years of playing many childhood sports, I stopped playing competitive sports in the eighth grade  (yes, I regret that! Especially quitting soccer).  By the time I tried to get back into it as a Junior in high-school, I was too far behind compared to my peers to make Varsity-level.  Although I’ve always been athletic and active, I have a hunger for more winning, more success athletically.  Being a sponsored, competitive athlete is something I’ve always dreamed of.

I like the mental challenge of a race; in fact, that is probably the biggest challenge for me.  I’ve done some running races, too, and I can get distracted, either by external stimuli (other people), or internal (self-doubt; comparing myself to others).   I know I’m a good athlete, and I want to learn how to be a pillar of grace under the pressure of competition; to tune out the background noise.  I want to learn to perform at my fullest potential, despite what other people are doing, or the obstacle of crowded pathways resembling the old Atari video-game Frogger.  Yes, I’d like to prove myself as well; ego is part of it.  But it comes from a place of unfulfilled dreams, that resonates with me on a deep, emotional level. Athleticism is part of my identity, and to be recognized for it someday would be awesome.  I have a flame lit under me that, instead of needing to be extinguished, needs to burn and glow.

I try to keep a few things in mind during a ride, summarized with the letters A-G: Awareness, Balance, Confidence, Determination, Endurance, Flow, and Grace.

Each word embodies an essential quality for a successful ride, in my opinion.   Total awareness is everything; without it, riding is plain dangerous.  Balance is key, not just for physically shifting your weight, but for balancing effort, approach, and expectations.  Confidence is what you get from all those rides over the years; it’s the muscle-memory of instinct.  It’s sure-footedness, committed action.  Determination is my trait; tenacious K.  Endurance is the obvious one to see you through the long, hard climbs when your muscles are tight.  Flow is the secret code that unlocks the beauty of the whole experience; it connects everything together into positive, forward momentum.  Grace is the blend of all these traits, where skill and intention combine for a smooth ride; it’s being a courteous, conscientious rider.

Ultimately, it’s a lot of fun to go for a ride in a beautiful place with a bunch of cool people.  I loved talking with other competitors and hearing their stories.   We all shared a good, hearty laugh watching a pair of Wild Turkeys gobble in unison.  Meandering through the booths after the race, warm sunshine on my face, watching the pros ride the pump tracks was a total highlight (names are on the Rider’s chalkboard in one of the pics).

It’s inspiring being around so many others who share the same passion.  I love being part of the mountain biking community – an outdoorsy, thrill-seeking, and fun-loving crew of people, all trying to push themselves to their very best.  I can’t wait for next year!