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Rita Arens
My name is Rita Arens. I like to write. A lot. Many pages.
Recent Activity
Never give up. That is my philosophy. In writing and, it seems, in running. I'm querying THE BIRTHRIGHT OF PARKER CLEAVES and BELLA EATS THE MONSTERS. I just signed up for the Kansas City Marathon's Half-Marathon. It is in OCTOBER. That should be warmer, right? If I just keep trying, I will eventually succeed. Because that is how it works. Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Surrender, Dorothy
Yes, they did start to hurt, kind of dull achey.
1 reply
OMG, it was so cold. Our car thermometer read 27 degrees when Beloved and the little angel dropped me off. I made my way down to the corrals, where we had to wait an extra 15 minutes or so because the traffic jam coming into the single entry-point was backed waaaay up. I was not happy with the delay, as that meant I spent my time stamping my feet and jumping up and down, wasting valuable energy. I had some layer issues. When I did my shake-out run the day before, it was 18 degrees and windy, and one pair of running tights just wasn't enough. So to this half-marathon, I wore: 2 pair of socks (one compression, one wool) 1 pair of compression shorts 2 pair of running tights (one normal, one fleecy) 1 running tank bra 2 wicking long-sleeved shirts, one with a hood 1 long-sleeved tee 1 thin waterproof windbreaker for when it started snowing 1 neck gaiter 1 hat 1 pair of thick running gloves 1 water bottle (I always carry my own water) I was okay except for my feet in the corrals. My right foot toes started to go numb before they released us, which was troubling. Then FINALLY we started. As we were taking off out of that single entry point, I saw swarms of unhappy runners walking in from the line of cars still waiting to turn in. I don't know if those guys went ahead and ran or not, but they probably did because a) it was a chip race, so the only thing that mattered was when your chip crossed the lines and b) I saw some incredibly fit-looking people finishing a half hour after I did. As I ran, I felt happy I was not one of those late... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Surrender, Dorothy
I lived! Update coming soon.
Toggle Commented 7 days ago on I'm Scared at Surrender, Dorothy
1 reply
Thanks, Jenny!
Toggle Commented Nov 14, 2014 on I'm Scared at Surrender, Dorothy
1 reply
I have a ski turtle gaiter thing that I am planning to use along with a hat. See you there!
Toggle Commented Nov 14, 2014 on I'm Scared at Surrender, Dorothy
1 reply
Toggle Commented Nov 14, 2014 on I'm Scared at Surrender, Dorothy
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The week after I got back from BlogHer '14, I started training for the Longview Half-Marathon. Which is tomorrow. And tomorrow there is this: JACKSON: ...WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 6 AM SATURDAY TO MIDNIGHT CST SATURDAY NIGHT... THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN KANSAS CITY/PLEASANT HILL HAS ISSUED A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FOR ACCUMULATING SNOW... WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 6 AM SATURDAY TO MIDNIGHT CST SATURDAY NIGHT. * LOCATION...ALL OF NORTH-CENTRAL MISSOURI AND NORTHEASTERN KANSAS. * TIMING... SNOW WILL OVERSPREAD THE REGION AFTER DAYBREAK ON SATURDAY. SNOW WILL THEN CONTINUE THROUGH MUCH OF THE DAY BEFORE TAPERING OFF BY LATE AFTERNOON OR EARLY EVENING. * SNOW ACCUMULATIONS...A GENERAL 1 TO 3 INCHES OF SNOW IS EXPECTED ACROSS THE REGION. ISOLATED HIGHER AMOUNTS MAY BE POSSIBLE ALONG AND SOUTH OF THE MISSOURI RIVER. * IMPACTS...ACCUMULATING SNOW AND REDUCED VISIBILITIES WILL RESULT IN HAZARDOUS TRAVEL ACROSS THE REGION THROUGH MUCH OF THE DAY. PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS... A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY MEANS THAT PERIODS OF SNOW...SLEET...OR FREEZING RAIN WILL CAUSE TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. BE PREPARED FOR SLIPPERY ROADS AND LIMITED VISIBILITIES...AND USE CAUTION WHILE DRIVING. And I really, really, really hate being cold. However. I followed a for-me really hard training program for four months. I only missed one of the training runs in all that time. I ran thirteen miles twice. I ran fourteen miles twice. I ran tempo runs. I ran sprint intervals. I ran up the hills and down the hills, and dammit, I am running 13.1 miles tomorrow come hell or high water (which, you know, could happen). My plan is to pretend to be Rocky training in Russia. The little angel advised me to wear a lot of lotion. The polar vortex was supposed to wait until November 16 to start. It did not listen. So, um, wish... Continue reading
Posted Nov 14, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
I read WE ARE NOT OURSELVES a few weeks ago and loved, loved, loved that, too. Agree on the influences. That book had so many layers it blew my mind.
Toggle Commented Nov 11, 2014 on Flayed at Surrender, Dorothy
1 reply
Thanks, Angela.
Toggle Commented Nov 11, 2014 on The Run at Surrender, Dorothy
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I've been reading. I just finished WE WERE LIARS. It caught me in between the belly scales. I'm upset. I'm fascinated. I wish I could write a book like that. Hat off, E. Lockhart, my brim brushes the dust. Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
I spent last night at the Lawrence watch event for Paul Davis/Jill Docking's Kansas governor's run. I've known Paul since he married my best friend, and their daughter is my girl's unofficial little sister. So of course I wanted him to win. Beyond that, Paul's politics mirror my own almost exactly, only he is calm under pressure and I am not. He would've been a great governor. Kansas, I'm sorry. You're missing out. I probably offended a room full of people when I said after the call had been made and the speech presented that I felt like I did when the Royals lost the World Series last month. That I would compare baseball to politics is probably uncool, but what I meant is this: Both were underdogs, both had worked very hard for years to get to the big stage, the nation was focused on both events, and I had spent months emotionally engaged in the events that unfolded before the big event. And in both scenarios, it was really close. There was no blowout. It got called late. As I drove back to my hotel, I felt shell-shocked, amazed that he could've possibly lost. This morning, though, I spent the hour-long drive back home thinking about how dangerous and how satisfying it is to care, to hope. I know what it's like to come really close with something and have it denied you. THE OBVIOUS GAME came thisclose to being picked up by a big publisher. In the immediate aftermath, it felt so awful I asked myself over and over why I was doing it to myself. Why bother trying to make a mark, share yourself in some way other than a Facebook status update? Why try when so many people live happy, productive, meaningful lives without putting... Continue reading
Posted Nov 5, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
I'm in the writing valley right now, shopping some projects to agents, wondering what will happen next. I've been in this place of a different sort of work for about a month now, grinding along, sending out queries, sticking my nose weekly into my color-coded Google doc of victory and rejection. I haven't been writing at all except very sporadically here and of course for my day job. I've been reading and training for a half-marathon and watching the World Series and lying in my hammock soaking up the last rays of this unseasonably warm October. A few nights ago, I had one of those television dreams accompanied by smell and sound and touch. When I woke up, I had the seed of a new story. I wrote the elevator pitch in my writing notebook. I write ideas for books in there all the time, but this time was different. This wasn't just a phrase or a scene -- it was a story. I haven't done any plotting yet. I haven't written down anything but those three sentences. I'm not ready. My head is still in the projects I'm querying. When my agent was shopping THE OBVIOUS GAME, I forced myself to start THE BIRTHRIGHT OF PARKER CLEAVES to distract myself from the waiting and watching and panic attacks, not because I really knew where I was going with it. PARKER CLEAVES started as a feeling I wanted to capture, and I hope my story wove around the feeling well enough to do its job as a vehicle. THE OBVIOUS GAME started as a series of stand-alone scenes I wanted to link together in a meaningful way to shed light on anorexia and bring hope for recovery. My process felt sort of Rubiksonian each time. This story idea ... this... Continue reading
Posted Oct 28, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
Why, thank you!
Toggle Commented Oct 22, 2014 on What It Takes to Reclaim Wood at Surrender, Dorothy
1 reply
When I was younger, there were several outbuildings alongside my parents' driveway. One of them was a corn crib for hogs that became where we stored my horse Cutter's hay and grain. One of them was a hog shed that became Cutter's barn and my tack room. If I close my eyes and concentrate, I can still smell the inside of those buildings. They've since been torn down as they outlived their useful lives, but my father kept the wood. I don't remember how it came up, but Pa offered to let Beloved and I have this wood if we would come help plane it down. Chateau Travolta's deck has a large footprint, and the wood appears to be near original. We patched it a little last summer, but it's getting really rotted. We're going to use the corn crib cypress wood to resurface the deck next spring. Here's what the wood looked like before we started. It's pretty rough and still has a little bit of old white paint clinging to it. Pa bought a secondhand planer and we bought some blades for it. Pa and Beloved gave me permission to use this pic of them and the planer. I was the catcher, so to speak. I would grab the boards as they came though the business end of the planer and help them through. Sometimes this was just holding and sometimes this meant leaning with all my strength when they got kind of ... stuck. Each board took a minimum of one and usually more like two or three passes. First pass. Second pass. Getting closer. You could tell things were rocking when the big shavings started to come out. So pretty! I lost track of how many boards we did. I would guess somewhere in the neighborhood... Continue reading
Posted Oct 21, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
"He's in the forest. Behind my house." Continue reading
Posted Oct 16, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
I've got something bubbling below the surface, too. I keep hoping it will flush out with the running, but I suspect I'm a blown expectation away from a howler myself.
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The text came at 7 am, but I didn't see it until right before my girl and my husband were about to leave. "Dear parents," it began, and I knew what it was going to say. The rain outside poured down so hard it sounded angry: field trip cancelled. Just a normal Monday. Nothing to look forward to. I met her eyes. She crumpled before me. As I listened to the frustration, disappointment and rage pour out of her, I thought how much I've wanted to do that in the past few weeks. Nothing in particular has happened, just the culmination of several mountains that won't move no matter how hard I hurl myself against them. My husband told her about two field trips when he was a kid that were cancelled due to inclement weather. I told her about "All Summer in a Day," one of the first Ray Bradbury short stories I ever loved because of the moment the children realize what they've done to Margot, even though they really didn't mean to. I read it around my daughter's age. It was the beginning of my awareness that people can do awful things without meaning to, and they don't get a pass because they didn't mean to. You can mean to do all the good things and still screw up. And if you do, it's still your fault. And if it's your fault, but you're trying to be a good person, then maybe that means you have to cut everyone some slack. And the world gets way more complicated. She rested her head on my shoulder and I patted her silky red hair, wishing I could take away the rain and give her the gift of a school-free, field-trippy day, but I am not God. I don't control... Continue reading
Posted Oct 13, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
Just watch it. You have time. You'll have a way better weekend if you do. Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
I have them both in Tupperware right now and am headed out to Petco for new supplies as soon as the girl gets home.
Toggle Commented Oct 9, 2014 on Charlie Cries for Help at Surrender, Dorothy
1 reply
We have had the hermit crab twins, Charlie and Sebastian, since the little angel turned two. Never in a million years did I think they would live so long. Guess what? If you take care of your hermit crabs properly, they can live up to 40 years in captivity, with an average lifespan of 15 years. Charlie and Sebastian are at least eight and a half. Lord help me, these crabs may live to see the little angel graduate from high school. Unless the mites get them first. I have noticed the mites before, but I didn't realize they are such a big deal. Apparently, left unchecked, they can kill the crabs. This week the little angel and I have noticed Charlie coming out and attempting to scale his way out of the tank when we are in her playroom doing homework. Charlie is not shy, but this is new behavior. I felt kind of bad for a while, like maybe he wanted to run free. I even had an entire inner monologue with him about how he was too far from a temperate zone and even if I released him into the lake he would be toast in a month. I know, I know. I just went over to Beloved and made a plea for a vigourous scrubbing and hermit crab bathing session this evening. He rolled his eyes and said we need new substrate and I bought the wrong kind last time. This does not surprise me, because no matter what I buy on my own, from ripe avocados to hermit substrate to gym socks, I buy the wrong kind in his opinion. It is a running joke. It used to really stress me out, this buying of the wrong kind, then I realized, well, if he is... Continue reading
Posted Oct 9, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
After I get above eight miles, my mind starts to wander. I've discovered while training for half marathons how much your mind can disconnect from what your body is doing. There are times when it's too hot and my legs are too heavy and my lungs are bursting and I feel my mind slamming on the brakes, ready to override my desires with heat exhaustion, if necessary, to make this crazy 40-year-old woman stop running in the heat. There are times when my legs are fine and the euphoria sets in and the air is so awesome to breathe I want to stop and tell other people do you taste this air? Isn't this air unbelievable? Lately the temperature's been dropping. My vision no longer gets swimmy on big hills. I don't have to press pause on Runkeeper and pant like a dog in the shade after a big uphill. And above eight miles, I have all sorts of crazy thoughts. I just read THE INFINITE SEA by Richard Yancy. It's the second in a dystopian end-of-the-world series that does a particularly nice job of being a dystopian end-of-the-world series, in a similar way to Dexter doing a particularly nice job of being a good serial killer. Really entertaining and well paced plot but also gets the job done showing the uglier side of humanity: how we make choices, how we weigh one life against another. Ever since I read UNDER THE DOME by Stephen King, I've been having trouble swatting flies. The metaphors have invaded Missouri. As I run, all the latest books swim together in my head along with the plotlines of my own writing and my own life. I think (in my running-induced euphoria that can sometimes beget delusions of grandeur) that if only I could somehow... Continue reading
Posted Oct 7, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
So glad to hear that. Did you do Maudsley?
1 reply
Yesterday on Twitter, a blogger who had read my Dr. Phil anorexia post tweeted to me. I went over to look at her blog and felt the familiar stomach drop when I read this: A month ago, in Flagstaff, SB had a Subway sandwich for dinner Friday night and at lunch on Saturday she had a few of the sweet potato fries I'd ordered for the table. Yesterday, when it was suggested she needed to drink Gatorade to combat the recent dehydration that led to her fainting twice and being rehydrated in the E.R. this past Sunday, she cried. And said no. As a mother, my stomach drops for the blogger. As a recovered anorexic, my stomach drops with muscle memory. I'm reading THE MATHEMATICIAN'S SHIVA by Stuart Rojstaczer. In a book within a book, the protagonist's mother writes about going with only a tiny bit of food a day in war-torn Russia. Her description of hunger is spot-on: I want you to follow my instructions. Take your eyes off this page when I tell you to do. Look at the room around you. Wherever you are, simply open your eyes adn look, listen, smell and think whatever thoughts come your way ... Then imagine all of your awareness disappearing. Your eyes work, yes, but they don't see anything. Your brain won't let you process such information. The smells, they are gone, too. Your ears, they work simply to warn you of danger. Your thoughts, all of them are so uncomplicated and pure ... All is about the numbness inside you ... You are truly in hibernation. Everything has slowed, because any processing, physical or mental, requires energy, and that, if you are truly nutrient-deprived, is precisely what you don't possess. When I read that, I remembered crying from hunger.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 25, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
Hello Everyone! It's that time again. We have less than two weeks until the YA Scavenger Hunt begins. I hope you reserved plenty of time for this one because there isn't just one team or two or even three. This time we have 6, that's right, I said 6 YASH teams which means more prizes, news, and fun for all you readers out there! So let's get started! TEAM RED INCLUDES: TEAM GOLD INCLUDES: TEAM GREEN INCLUDES: TEAM ORANGE INCLUDES: TEAM INDIE INCLUDES: TEAM BLUE INCLUDES: There are so many books here I don't even know where I would begin. I hope you all are as excited as I am! The YA Scavenger Hunt begins at noon pacific time on Thursday, October 2nd and runs through Sunday, October 5th. That means to get through the entire hunt you'll need to go through 1.5 teams per day! Are you going to play? Continue reading
Posted Sep 24, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy