Djerassi, The Miles

It’s hillier here than I thought it would be. The driveway from my studio door to the gate is 1.3 miles and it gains 697 feet, with a 32.3% grade at its steepest point. That’s not as steep as the trail to Pyramid near our house in Phoenix, but it’s steep enough that there were days I didn’t want to do it.

Most days I did it.

In 27 days I ran 90 miles with a total elevation gain of 20,631 feet.

The trail running was pretty spectacular too, but it was harder to get in many miles without backtracking. So I did most of my running up the driveway to Bear Gulch Road and out to 35. Stunning views.

Total distance: 9731 m
Max elevation: 670 m
Min elevation: 408 m
Total climbing: 573 m
Total descent: -557 m
Total Time: 01:28:44


My Favorite Six

Djerassi, The Books

I had a goal to read 40 books while at Djerassi, because I normally like to raid the Alumni Library and read at least a poetry book a day. But I wasn’t reading as much poetry as I was memoir and fiction. And that’s okay. I ended up finishing 30 books in 28 days, so I’ll take that. I read some REALLY AMAZING books, and you can read my reviews on Goodreads. Some of my favorites were Townie by Andre Dubus III, My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem, and Living with a Wild God by Barbara Ehrenreich.

Thirty for Thirty

Djerassi, The Memoir

My main goal for my time at Djerassi was simple: get the memoir I’ve been working on to a point where I am ready to send it out. I have been working on it for a long time; so long, in fact, that my life keeps changing and sometimes when I go back to revise it there are sections that no longer make sense in the narrative. With the gift of 28 days, I decided I wanted to: cut the memoir from 95K words to 75K, remove some repetitive narration, and create a new structure.

View from My Studio

To create a new structure, I had to first work on the timeline that I’ve been trying to recreate for about 10 years now. I have been gathering a list of events for each month of every year since my grandparents were born, to try to piece together the timeframe of the implosion (okay, explosion) of my nuclear family. So I spent a good deal of time studying documents to verify these events.


Then I wrote two brand new first chapters.

Then I cut three existing chapters.

Then I worked on patching holes in chapters 3-7.

In short, I got a WHOLE LOT accomplished.

I still have perhaps 40 more working hours to add a bit more glue, including some details I didn’t have access to while I was away (my mother’s CIA and FBI files).