Running. With Planks.

Planking-Baby

6:02 am. Sunday, October 19, 2014. 52° F. Breezy. Autumn.

Mind rolls back to yesterday afternoon. Saturday at 4pm, and my body was signaling late Sunday. The heaviness of Work returned early, a thick Bay Area Fog. (Where’s my weekend?) I’m on a JetBlue flight heading South on Sunday afternoon to catch Monday morning meetings.

I’m ten pounds up from my six-month low. Ten pounds! My last running post was Sept 7th. My last run outside was Sept 14th. Over one month ago, and THAT run is still fresh. I glance at my notes from that day:

Garmin flashing 0.72 miles. Stomach cramps. They will work themselves out. Just slow it down. Keep your feet moving. 0.78 miles. Legs moving, body is haunched over. 0.80 miles. Pain ripping through left calf. I moan, stop and clutch my leg. No Mas. I turn and return home. To the couch.

I decide to break my pre-run routine. (Which, besides complaining about running, is to do nothing, but get out the door.)

I get down on my knees. I’m thinking 1 Plank. I position my iPhone stopwatch where I can see it. I take a deep breath in preparation.  (My blogger friends are deep under my skin. Bone deep.  If Lori can do three two-minute planks in one work-out and Carolann can do a four-minute plank, this is just a matter of practice, right? And, last time I checked, I’m a Man, right?)

I get in planking position. I’ll knock one of these off before my run, and then have something to write about when I return. I’m glaring at the stopwatch. (I’ll show them.)

25 sec.
(Think I got this.)

35 sec.
(Breathing a bit heavy, but I’m just finding my groove.) [Read more...]

It only gets better from here…

middle-age

wsj.com – The Myth of the Midlife Crisis:

  • According to a growing body of research, midlife upheavals are more fiction than fact.
  • Life satisfaction reaches a low point around the mid-40s, perhaps due to stress associated with the simultaneous demands of work and family. But it rises after that.
  • Midlife, he adds, “is a surprisingly positive time of life.”

And yet, I can’t help but parrot Franz Kafka: “My condition is not unhappiness, but it is also not happiness, not indifference, not weakness, not fatigue, not another interest –so what is it then?”

Running. As a Witness.

head down,tired, fatigued

R. Dass: “Everything changes once we identify with being the witness to the story, instead of the actor in it.

6:31 am. September 6, 2014.

76° F.  Humid.

He’s wearing black shorts, above the knee.

He has two bands on his left wrist. Both black. A Garmin GPS, tracking time and distance. A Vivo Fit, another Garmin tool, tracking his step count.  His head bobs, no, it tics, checking progress on his devices every 30-40 seconds.

His shirt is canary yellow, sleeveless. The sweat stains are darkening his shirt, spilled black ink creeping down his chest.

His running shoes are off-the-shelf new, with hyper-green florescent laces, tied with symmetrical bows on each foot.

His head is down but for the presence of oncoming traffic, when he’ll steal a look up, and offer a wave to the driver who gives him wide berth.

He’s heavy footed. Solemn. A hulking, Dutch plow horse, blinders blocking out peripheral vision. The furrows behind him, turned and plowed over and under and over again. [Read more...]

Are you ready this time?

black and white, close-up
Going too fast for myself
I missed more than I think I can remember
almost everything it seems sometimes
and yet there are chances that come back
that I did not notice when they stood
where I could have reached out and touched them
this morning the black shepherd dog
still young looking up and saying
Are you ready this time?

- W. S. Merwin, “Turning”


Credits: Photograph by Sharon Heron of German Shepherd Dog. Poem: Litverve

EXACTLY what I needed to see. PERFECT.

cool-chart-prime-person-ages


Source: People Were Asked About Their Prime Years, These Were Their Answers. themetapicture.com

Like an old dog

dog,sleepy,sigh

Like an old dog
I slowly lower and
arrange myself
in a heap of sighs.

~ Jim Harrison & Ted Kooser, Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry


Image Source: Kingray

Sunday Morning: I perfectly recall yesterday, the whale’s eye that blinked

eye-blink-gif

Zeke dreaming.
Our mid afternoon nap.
His paws twitching, his gentle whimpers.

The Yellow Goldfinch and his cousins.
Tiny claws clutching the perches at the feeder.
Beak on seed. Velvet hammer tap, tap, tapping.
Man still searching for a matching, lemon color palette.

Long Train Runnin’. The Doobie Brothers.
A 3.5 minute nostalgic carpet ride.
Foot tapping, lip syncing, and running the math.
40 years ago!

Family dinner.
Memories shared.
Melancolía filling the pauses.
Pending departures.

The Coldstone vanilla milk shake.
Thick gobs of deliciousness pulled through the straw.
Hit me.
Again and again.

Its lazy days.
Its hushed evenings.
August’s final murmur.

I perfectly recall the elephant’s eye and the whale’s eye that blinked.

I skipped counting individual drops in favor of the general feeling of rain.
[Read more...]

The Lunchbox (Fantastic!)


The Lunchbox, winner of Critics’ Week Viewers Choice Award at Cannes 2013. A mistaken delivery in Mumbai’s famously efficient lunchbox delivery system connects a young housewife to an older man in the dusk of his life as they build a fantasy world together through notes in the lunchbox. They each discover a new sense of self and find an anchor to hold on to in the big city of Mumbai that so often crushes hopes and dreams. But since they’ve never met, Ila and Saajan become lost in a virtual relationship that could jeopardize both their realities. (Source: Youtube)

I don’t know when I became old. 
Maybe it was that morning. 
Maybe it was many, many mornings ago…
Life kept going and lulled me with its motions.
I kept rocking back and forth 
as it threw me left and threw me right.
And before I knew it…


 

 

Happy Birthday Mimi!

Birthday-Cake-With-Candles-1

She showed up here with a comment in March, 2012. How? From where? No idea.

She rings the morning bell at the crack of dawn with a dash of wit or splash of insight – softening up the spillway for others to come behind her. Gentle. Grace. Light.

I’ve had a handful of guest bloggers post on my blog. Don’t miss: The Final Act of Love

Her post was recognized by WordPress as one of the best of the day in “Freshly Pressed“: An Ode to Entomology

Here’s an excerpt from her beautiful post yesterday on the Eve of a Big Day:

Perhaps that’s it – I still believe in wonders.  In fact I think I notice them more than ever before.  Wonder in the breath of the wind, the intangible, unbreakable connections that tie me to those I love.  Wonder at how much more meaning my days have now that they have fewer requirements to dilute the attention I might give to the sun on my face.  And while I marvel, I also realize how tightly I am holding onto this life.  How much I love the moments as well as the spaces in between, when I breathe in the absolute sweetness of being a part of it all.

Read more here: Suddenly Sixty

Happy Birthday Mimi.


Image Credit: calendar.org

 

Mistakes made by the selves we had to be

white,photography,arms crossed

Do you have hope for the future? someone asked Robert Frost, toward the end.

Yes, and even for the past, he replied, that it will turn out to have been all right for what it was, something we can accept, mistakes made by the selves we had to be, not able to be, perhaps, what we wished, or what looking back half the time it seems we could so easily have been, or ought…

The future, yes, and even for the past, that it will become something we can bear.

And I too, and my children, so I hope, will recall as not too heavy the tug of those albatrosses I sadly placed upon their tender necks.

Hope for the past, yes, old Frost, your words provide that courage, and it brings strange peace that itself passes into past, easier to bear because you said it, rather casually, as snow went on falling in Vermont years ago.

~ David Ray, “Thanks, Robert Frost.”

 


David Ray, 82, was born in Sapulpa, Oklahoma. Ray comes from a broken home that was thrown into upheaval when his father left the family by hopping on the back of a watermelon truck headed to California. After his mother’s next failed marriage ended in the suicide of Ray’s stepfather, he and his sister Mary Ellen were placed into foster care—a system that wasn’t kind to young children in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Ray’s classic “Mulberries of Mingo” steeps from memories of he and his sister being thrown out of a foster families home at dinner time – to fend for themselves eating the mulberries from a neighbor’s tree. The years that followed were dark and tragic as he and his sister were separated to face their separate nightmares of abuse. He is a distinguished award winner, and has lectured and read at over 100 Universities in England, Canada and the U.S. Graduating from the University of Chicago, BA, MA. Ray’s poetry varies from short, three to four lines pieces, to longer 30 lines poems. His work is also often autobiographical, providing unique context and insight to scenes of childhood, love, fear, sex, and travel. “Communication is important to him, and he has the courage, working with a genre in which simplicity is suspect, to say plainly what he means.” He and his wife, poet and essayist Judy Ray, live in Tucson, Arizona.

Studs Terkel: David Ray’s poetry has always been radiant even though personal tragedy has suffused it.” [Read more...]

Monday (Anti) Mantra. Always. Always this…

melon-light

how you can never reach it,
no matter how hard you try,
walking as fast as you can,
but getting nowhere,
arms and legs pumping,
sweat drizzling in rivulets;
each year, a little slower,
more creaks and aches, less breath.
Ah, but these soft nights,
air like a warm bath,
the dusky wings of bats careening crazily overhead,
and you’d think the road goes on forever.
Apollinaire wrote, “What isn’t given to love is so much wasted,”
and I wonder what I haven’t given yet.
A thin comma moon rises orange,
a skinny slice of melon,
so delicious I could drown in its sweetness.
Or eat the whole thing, down to the rind.
Always, this hunger for more.

Barbara Crooker, How the Trees on Summer Nights Turn Into A Dark River


Notes:


Running. With Sticks.

drum-gif-smash

6:30 am.

Mid-July, and it’s 63º F. Overcast. Low humidity.

PULL UP THE DAMN DOUBLE-DECKER GRATITUDE BUS.

I’m out the door. And down the highway.

I’m flicking through my playlist. James Taylor. Click. Bonnie Raitt. Click. Bryan Adams. WarmerClick. David Sanborn. Cool down, maybe. Click. Sara McLachlan. Animal Cruelty Videos. Click. Click. Jimmy Buffet. Margaritaville. NO. CLICK.  

And then, AC-DC.

And THEN, AC-DC.

THUNDERSTUCK. Sound of the drums beating my heart.

Block: Morning weigh-in. Re-grip the sticks…and Swing.
Block: Heavy legs. Re-grip the sticks…and Pound.
Block: Lack of sleep. Re-grip…and Slam.
Block: Work. WORK. Re-grip, unleash and Pulverize ‘em.

Time Check: 6.12 miles @ 55.08 minutes.

Nap Time.


Notes:

Sunday Morning: Taste it

morning-sunrise-river
When you are a young person, you are like a young creek, and you meet many rocks, many obstacles and difficulties on your way. You hurry to get past these obstacles and get to the ocean. But as the creek moves down through the fields, it becomes larger and calmer and it can enjoy the reflection of the sky. It’s wonderful. You will arrive at the sea anyway so enjoy the journey. Enjoy the sunshine, the sunset, the moon, the birds, the trees, and the many beauties along the way. Taste every moment of your daily life.

Thich Nhat Hanh 


Sources: Photograph: Peter in Buscot, England, UK. Quote: Thank you Karen @ Tearinyourhand

 

Dementia: Holding onto Reason

balloons-storm-demenia


Source: Cart via Madame Scherzo. Unpublished cover for New Scientist magazine about oncoming Dementia and how to manage it.

Five Stages of One’s Career

balloon-portrait-life

Then there are the stages of one’s career: an old joke invoked the five stages of Joseph Epstein (supply your own name here): 1. Who is Joseph Epstein? 2. This is a job, clearly, for Joseph Epstein. 3. We ought to get someone like Joseph Epstein for this job. 4. This job calls for a younger Joseph Epstein, and 5. Who is Joseph Epstein?

~ Joseph Epstein, A Literary Education and Other Essays


Credits: Photograph – Tugbaumit

 

Family Dinner

The Four Freedoms, Freedom from want

6:30 pm. Saturday evening. Family sits for dinner.

Susan is sitting to my right. A hummingbird, fluttering her wings, spreading honey.

Rachel to my left. Her boyfriend Andrew, next to her. Rachel’s jabbering on about her first week of full-time work. She’s coming down, down from the high of college graduation, and seeing the next 30 year highway of her life. Commuting. Work. Exhaustion. Weekends. Loop it back and hard again. (Is that the gratitude Bus Rachel has pulled up for her Mom & Dad?)

Eric, is down at the end of the table. He’s sneaking glances at his phone. I glare. He puts the phone back in his pocket.

Zeke’s laying under the table. Hoping for something, anything to hit the floor.

And there’s The King, at the head of the table. Fork in the right. Scepter in the left. (Surveilling the landscape. Inhaling it deep into the lungs. Same somber script running. Eagles and Peaceful Easy Feeling is playing. Sand racing through the hourglass. How many of these do we have left?)

“Dad, look at Eric’s guns.”
“Guns?”
“His biceps. They’re bigger than yours.”
I glance at Eric’s “guns.”
He looks down. And blushes. (Did I see a smirk?)
[Read more...]

Just Livin’

ballet-foot-black and white

NS: Name?
DK: David K-A-N-I-G-A-N. No middle initial. (Here we go again.)
NS: Height?
DK: 6’1″.
NS: Weight?
DK: (Pause)
NS: (Smiling) We can weigh you when we get inside.
DK: Today or this month’s average?
NS: Today.
DK: 208. (She doesn’t know that you’re up 10. Why avert your eyes you coward?)
NS: Name of GP?
DK: (Pause) Don’t have one.
NS: Don’t have a GP?
DK: It’s been a while.
NS: Date of last physical?
DK: (Pause) Don’t remember. (She steals a glance at my ID. Checking DOB.)
NS: Blood type?
DK: No idea.
NS: (Staring eye-ball-to-eyeball now)
[Read more...]

Aging Americans Sleep More, Work Less (Note to Self: No way)

americans-time-activities-survey-chart

Excerpts from WSJ: Aging Americans Sleep More, Work Less, Survey Finds:

  • Americans older than 14: 14 minutes less work a day and 10 minutes more sleep than when the survey began a decade earlier.
  • Americans’ No. 1 hobby remains watching television. Respondents said they spent an average of two hours, 46 minutes a day watching TV, 11 minutes more than in 2003.
  • “The data defies popular expectations…People say they’re too busy for leisure and don’t have time to sleep, but that seems not to be the case.”
  • It is difficult to grasp precisely why people have shifted how they spend their days. But demographics and economics play a large role. The U.S. population is aging, with 8,000 people turning 65 each day. Many of those individuals are retired or working part time and thus have more time to sleep, watch television, play shuffleboard and other non-work activities.
  • “Essentially, the share of the population who works zero hours per day is growing faster than the employed”
  • Most other types of leisure, including reading, socializing in person and taking a second to think, have edged down since 2003. One exception: playing videogames and other “computer use for leisure,” which includes posting pictures on Facebook and mindlessly surfing the Web to kill time. On weekend days, men spend 38 minutes on this activity, 13 minutes more than in 2009.

Read full article here: Aging Americans Sleep More, Work Less, Survey Finds

 

Father’s Day 2014

trees-sky-sun-light
Kids are rustling me awake from my mid-morning nap in the backyard.

Dad, Dad, it’s time to open the gifts!

(A flash of Christmas mornings past. Wow, that was quite a nap, Rip.  They’ve migrated up from cologne and neck ties. Hmmmm. Right pocket, left pocket, transfer of funds? All within Dad’s pant pockets? Not nice Dad.)

Thank you. Wonderful Gift!

Family sits together for brunch. Scrambled eggs, western style, bacon, sliced peaches, English Muffins (with jam, of course). (Family sitting around the table. Soul warming. How many of these moments are left?)

We head outside. 68º F. Low humidity. Wind gusts at 16 mph. Trees rustling overhead. Zeke is barking, while giving chase to the Frisbee flying to and fro overhead. The Kanigan family exercise for the Day.

I reach for my book. Zeke is sprawled out on the back stoop, basking in the sun, and watching Blue Jays pecking at seed in the feeder.  Rachel and Eric shade their eyes from the sun, and their iPhones, as they check their texts. I settle in on the lawn chair with my book. (Front doors unlocked. Families sitting together for meals. Kid’s playing catch with Dad in the backyard, or playing outside with friends. Pick-up games. Fishing. Exploring the mountainside.) 

[Read more...]

Running. Because I can’t stop.

gif-funny-cartoon-eating-diet

Wednesday: 2 am. A knife stabbing the muscle in the right calf. I’m gripping the iron railing on the headboard. And pointing my toes. (Susan’s remedy. I’ve always thought it was Bullsh*t, yet here I am pointing my toes.) I’m writhing in pain. Cramp. Zeke awakens, rolls over and starts licking my face, I’ll save you Dad! Dog mung-mouth-sleep-breath — I’m snorting ammonia. The bed is rolling like a stormy sea – yet, Susan is not moved. She stirs, but doesn’t wake. The entire team carries Lebron off the floor with his leg-cramps, and I don’t even get a: “Are you ok?” Where’s the empathy here people?

Thursday: 3 pm. Work meeting. Same leg. Same calf. Pitch fork stab. Cramp. I’m gripping the arms of the chair. Eyes are gushing water. I drop my head to take notes to avoid eye contact. Meeting ends. I walk up the stairs alone, limping, and heaving. Hydration? Vitamin deficiency? Sleep deprivation? Hunger?

Saturday: 4 am. Feelin’ large. I step on the scale. NO! Just.Can’t.Be. NFW! I strip off t-shirt and underwear – – I might be carrying extra poundage in my shorts. I get back on the scale – it wobbles – and falls 0.2 lbs. Pathetic! I move to the mirror. I see a six-inch scratch from the belly button to the jelly roll part, with a puff of dried blood accumulation on the handle. A tattoo from my wrestling match with Zeke. Or another sign? I check my notes. April 19th, is the last time I ran. 49 days ago. Can that even be possible? I check my weight tracker:

[Read more...]

SMWI*: Here’s a man. We’re not worthy!

1878030_running_streak_BRV_

  • He started May, 26, 1969. Two months before Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.
  • He’s run at least one mile every single day for 45 years. 16,438 days straight.
  • Each run has been documented in a daily diary contained in 46 binders.
  • He’s run 190,715 miles.
  • Rain or shine, healthy or sick, strong or weak — he has run. He’s run through 10 broken bones (two toes, two metatarsals, four ribs, a vertebrae and a hip) and arthroscopic surgeries on both knees.
  • When I run, I like to think,” he said.
  • As long as I’m healthy, I’m going to keep going.”
  • Jon Sutherland, 63, the High School Cross Country Coach in California, set the American Record on Monday.

Notes:

  • Thank you Elise.
  • SMWI* = Saturday Morning Work-Out Inspiration
  • Listen to the story on NPR.
  • Image & excerpts from: LA Times
  • We’re not worthy: Wayne’s World

 

 

In our hearts we still pray for sons and daughters


Allman Brown and Liz Lawrence are London based singer-songwriters who have collaborated for Sons and Daughters.  

And I’ll build a fire, you fetch the water and I’ll lay the table
and in our hearts, we still pray for sons and daughters
and all those evenings out in the garden, where we went
These quiet hours turning to years

And I, I’ll wrap myself around your heart I’ll be the walls of his heart
And I, I’ll keep light on, to call you back home…


Notes:

Mad Max: 1 – Bull: 0.

smart-car-longhorn

Just another Friday morning commute.

Mind is pond skittering. Nothing heavy on the calendar. Chance to leave early. Long weekend. Kids home. 58° F.  Morning sun warming with forecaster calling for more Spring heat. Gnawing on a protein bar. Windows down.  Feelin’ light. Feelin’ Gratitude.

Ray P comes sauntering in. His Detroit Tigers’ baseball cap is slung low. His pants hiked way up and cinched with a belt burnishing a oversized golden buckle. A middle aged client from 20 years back who inherited a small sum from his Mom who had the foresight to dribble out food money in monthly installments.  Mail was unacceptable. He had to pick it up.  He’d bite his lip hungrily ripping open the envelope…stare at the check, look at me: “Son, I’ve got the world by the a**.”

I’m at the speed limit in the center lane, flowing with the other fishes, no obstructions this morning. Son, I’ve got the world by the a**. [Read more...]

So easily bruised, so swiftly wounded

woman-portrait-lean-black-white

“They are not brave, the days when we are twenty-one. They are full of little cowardices, little fears without foundation, and one is so easily bruised, so swiftly wounded, one falls to the first barbed word. To-day, wrapped in the complacent armour of approaching middle age, the infinitesimal pricks of day by day brush one but lightly and are soon forgotten, but then—how a careless word would linger, becoming a fiery stigma, and how a look, a glance over a shoulder, branded themselves as things eternal.”

— Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca


Directionally building “complacent armor.”

Credits: Quotes - Journalofanobody. Photograph: Alex Mazurov via Black and White

Wooed by mandarin eyes

pigeon-beach-maui

I’m slumped on a beach chair.
Earbuds are pumping in music, partially muffling the surf.
My baseball cap is pulled down low.
My Kindle is in my right hand, blocking the sun, and the rest of me.
Unrecognizable. Unapproachable. Body language spewing “Prickly Man. No Talking.”

She ambles within 3 feet.
She inches closer, determined to get my attention.
I peak out from under my hat.
Her iris’ are mandarin oranges circling jet black darkness.
And both eyes are locked on mine.
She stares. And stares. And stares.
I go back to reading.
She inches closer. And begins to preen her tail feathers.

Middle Aged Man has managed to repel all bikini clad women.
And, now he’s getting hit on by a Pigeon.  What a Stud! [Read more...]

That’s how your whole life will feel some day

chuck-palahniuk

“No matter how careful you are, there’s going to be the sense you missed something, the collapsed feeling under your skin that you didn’t experience it all. There’s that fallen heart feeling that you rushed right through the moments where you should’ve been paying attention.

“Well, get used to that feeling. That’s how your whole life will feel some day.”

Chuck Palahniuk, from Invisible Monsters


Charles Michael Palahniuk, 52, is an American novelist and freelance journalist, who describes his work as transgressional fiction. spent his early childhood living out of a mobile home in Burbank, Washington. His parents, Carol and Fred Palahniuk, separated and divorced when he was fourteen, leaving Chuck and his siblings to spend much of their time on their maternal grandparent’s cattle ranch.  Chuck graduated from the University of Oregon with a BA in journalism. He entered the workforce as a journalist for a local Portland newspaper, but soon grew tired of the job. He then gained employment as a diesel mechanic, spending his days repairing trucks and writing technical manuals. It was during this time that Chuck experienced much of what would become fodder for his early work, including working as an escort for terminally ill hospice patients and becoming a member of the notorious Cacophony Society. He was the author of the award winning novel Fight Club, which also was made into a feature film.


Quote Source: Stalwart Reader. Portrait & Bio Source: Chuck Palahniuk.net. Bio Source: Wiki.

It’s never too late to be what you might have been. It’s never to early, either.

being-perfect-Anna-Quindlen

“Someday, sometime, you will be sitting somewhere. A berm overlooking a pond in Vermont. The lip of the Grand Canyon at sunset. A seat on the subway. And something bad will have happened: You will have lost someone you loved, or failed at something at which you badly wanted to succeed. And sitting there, you will fall into the center of yourself. You will look for some core to sustain you. And if you have been perfect all your life and have managed to meet all the expectations of your family, your friends, your community, your society, chances are excellent that there will be a black hole where that core ought to be. I don’t want anyone I know to take that terrible chance. And the only way to avoid it is to listen to that small voice inside you that tells you to make mischief, to have fun, to be contrarian, to go another way. George Eliot wrote, ‘It is never too late to be what you might have been.’ It is never too early, either.”

 – Anna Quindlen, Being Perfect


Source: Thank you WhiskeyRiver from Anna Quindlen’s book: Being Perfect

Running. Full Stop.

cookie-monster-funny-gif

Well, it was only a matter of time.
Reversion to the mean.
I stepped on the scale.
Blinked.
Holy Sh*t. An Explosion.
One month of late night snacking (will work it off tomorrow),
an extra portion here (will have a light lunch),
a candy bar or two there (will skip a meal),
and the Jenga Tower collapses (wiping out a 15 year record low).

So, I’m off. Running. Mianus River Trails.
Overdressed (way) for 32º F. Man wearing plastic suit on a hot summer day.

No dogs. No gadgets. No water. No people. No talking.
No fancy shoes. No fancy moisture wicking shirts.
No anti-chafe Body Glide balm for my Boobies.
No whining about the cold.
No complaining about the mud, the ice, the roots and the ruts.
No agonizing over turned ankles.
I will either levitate over all of it or mow it down.
And, Heaven help any chatty Human in the way of this-calorie-shedding-angry-middle-aged-bulbous-white-man.
We’re taking it all off, all of it, in one day.

Time Check: 7 miles.  1 hour 17 minutes.

Nap time.


Related Posts: Running Series. Image Source: Mme Scherzo

I can feel him

infant,photography,black and white

Mother and Son are texting last night.
Dad is in the Group Message.
Mom jabbering.
Son with monosyllabic responses.
The intermittent bing bing bing signaling the back and forth.
Dad is silent. Observing the exchange from a distance.
Pictures come across from El Salvador. Magic.
There he is. Smiling.

What was he? 7 months old? 9 months?
I’m holding him up by his arm pits.
His little hands gripping mine. Trusting.
Warm water splashing over us.
He bows his head towards my chest to duck the spray.
He whimpers.
I pull him closer.
He rests his head on my shoulder.
He squeezes his hands into little fists and rubs his eyes.
And looks up.
And smiles.
Those eyes. That smile.
I squeeze him tighter.

And feel his skin on my chest. On my fingertips.
And smell the Johnson’s Baby Shampoo in his hair.
Hold that moment.
Freeze it.


Somewhere in the future I am remembering today.
   ~ David Berman, From the Charm of 5:30

Photograph: Elena Shumilova via Mme Scherzo


Riding Metro-North. Mid-Day Oasis.

New-York-City-Street-Cabs

Same train.
Same track.
Same destination.
New time of day.
A mid-day oasis.
A sabbatical from the morning crush.
No scramble to find a seat.
Tourists staring out the window.
Day visitors chattering.
Students with headphones bobbing their heads.
And a smattering of Suits.
The Sun beams through the windows overheating the railcars.
The train clacks Se détendre. Se détendre. Relax.
We pull into Grand Central at 3:51 pm, 10 minutes late.
The crowd meanders out of the car.
I zig zag around them.
I have a 4pm call and need to get out of the tunnels to get a cell signal.
The escalator to the Exit is out of order. I look up the stairs. Way up. And groan.
I take them. One at a time.
Counting them off.
17.18.19.
35.36.37.
I look up. Dear God. I’m only about half way there. Where the h*ll is the Oasis now.
45.46.47.
Heaving now. Gasping for air. Middle age wheels are coming off.
56.57.58.
I steal a peak at my watch. 3:58 pm. 2 minutes until the start of my call.
Pay attention. A toe stub would be a calamity, serious mellon damage.
A backward tumble is unimaginable.
71.72.73.74.75.
3 steps left.
76.77.78. Could this be what a heart attack feels like?

I dig into my bag. And pair my bluetooth ear piece to my phone.
“Good afternoon everyone. I’m going to put my phone on mute. Please take the lead.”
Wow, I managed to get that out.

Superman leans against the sign post on Madison and 46th.
The chattering continues in his right ear
as he watches the yellow cabs flying by.
The delivery trucks.
The buses.
All a symphony. An orchestra.
He waits for the Walk signal pondering the antidote to his Kryptonite.
And there it is.
Breathe Man.
Breathe.


Related Posts: Driving/Riding Series. Image Credit


Morning Meditation

Prix De Lausanne, 2011


Paradox. Peace? Or Pain?


Source: Johan Persson Photography via Your Eyes Blaze Out

20 Lessons at 44

middle age

Pamela Druckerman, author of “Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting” shares 20 Lessons she has learned in her 40’s upon turning 44.  Here’s a few nuggets from her article in the NY Times: What You Learn in Your 40’s:

3) Eight hours of continuous, unmedicated sleep is one of life’s great pleasures. Actually, scratch “unmedicated.”

4) There are no grown-ups. We suspect this when we are younger, but can confirm it only once we are the ones writing books and attending parent-teacher conferences. Everyone is winging it, some just do it more confidently.

7)  Emotional scenes are tiring and pointless. At a wedding many years ago, an older British gentleman who found me sulking in a corner helpfully explained that I was having a G.E.S. — a Ghastly Emotional Scene. In your 40s, these no longer seem necessary. For starters, you’re not invited to weddings anymore. And you and your partner know your ritual arguments so well, you can have them in a tenth of the time.

11) More about you is universal than not universal. My unscientific assessment is that we are 95 percent cohort, 5 percent unique. Knowing this is a bit of a disappointment, and a bit of a relief.

12) Just say “no.”

14) Do not buy those too small jeans, on the expectation that you will soon lose weight.

Read entire NY Times article here.

Time in dreams is frozen. You can never get away from where you’ve been.

highway-sunset-motorcyle

When you’re young, you think everything you do is disposable. You move from now to now, crumpling time in your hands, tossing it away. You’re your own speeding car. You think you can get rid of things, and people too — leave them behind. You don’t yet know about the habit they have, of coming back.

Time in dreams is frozen. You can never get away from where you’ve been.

~ Margaret Atwood, “The Blind Assassin”
 
 

Poem Source: Call Me Gabrielle. Photograph: jjones

Runner. Grounded. Epilogue.

photography, portrait,black and white

4:45 am. Wednesday morning. Hump Day.

I lay in bed. I glance left to the window. It’s dark. Quiet.
Zeke nuzzles closer.
I close my eyes.

What’s it going to be? 
1/2 way back. 3/4 way back. All Better?

I ease out of bed. And inhale.
A twinge. A bite. A grimace. An exhalation.

Let’s call it 75%.
Bit of grade inflation but we’re going with it.

I dress.
I ease into the car.
The icicles on the eaves dripping.

Yes. Make it be Spring.

10:00 am meeting. Annoyances are whispy, floating in a thin ibuprofen haze in an otherwise cloudless sky. 10:14 am. Left eye begins to water. A fountain with intermittent spurts. The corneal abrasion roars out of remission and is shooting flares. 10:30 am. In the car, heading home. One hand over eye. The other keeping the wheel between the lanes, driving well below speed limit behind a semi trailer truck. 11:30 am.  Sitting in darkness. Taking conference calls.

Dispel this cloud, the light of heaven restore; Give me to see, and Ajax asks no more. (Homer)

5:35 am. Thursday. Fever?

I pop 3 Extra Strength Tylenol. And start pounding on emails. My left elbow tingles. I pull my sweatshirt up. It’s swollen, baseball size and throbbing. WTH? Where? How? Why? Thoughts race. We’re in a bit of a rhythm here:

Left lower back.
Left corneal abrasion.
Left elbow.

When it doesn’t feel right, go left.
And, if it doesn’t feel left?


Runner. Grounded.

back-pain

6am Thursday:
12” snowfall overnight. DK working from home.

SK: Are you going to shovel the driveway?
DK: No.
SK: No?
DK: No.
SK: (Eye roll) You’re going to let me do it? Again?
DK: I’ll do it this afternoon after I finish my calls.
SK: No you won’t.
DK: Are you going to keep riding me on this all day?

6am Friday.
3” of additional snowfall overnight.

SK: Are you going to shovel the driveway?
DK: No.
SK: No?
DK: No. Not before work. I’m not showering again.
DK: Just leave it until I return tonight. It will warm up and melt.
SK: Really? You’re kidding right? (She heads outside to shovel.)
DK: I told you to leave it. (She has this Thing about a clean driveway)
SK: How do you plan to get out?
DK: Get out of the way. I’m going to ram through the piles with the car.

2pm Sunday.
DK ventures outside to clear the back steps. SK opens the door.

SK: Why don’t you use the steel edger/chopper to break the ice?
DK: Oh come on. Really? I’ve shoveled show before. Get inside.
SK: OK have it your way.

(Mumbling. Girl telling Canadian how to shovel snow. What’s next?)
I get after it.
I bend the show shovel trying to break the ice.
I lean on it to try bend it back.
I look through the back door to see if she’s watching.
Coast is clear.
I stomp through the snow to get to the garage to get the steel chopper.
I start slamming the ice.
On the third swing, I hit concrete.
Cold, vibrating steel.
Shooting, stabbing pain in my lower back.
Air whooshes out of my lungs.
I fall to my knees. (Dear God help me.)

SK: What’s wrong?
DK: My back.
SK: You’re joking, right?
DK: Does it look like a joke? (I crawl upstairs to bed.)
SK: (Laughing) Do you see any irony here?
DK: No. I don’t actually. None.
DK: I do see you getting enormous pleasure seeing me keeled over in pain.
SK: Oh, come on. Big Man clears 2-steps. I shovel massive piles of snow. (Still laughing)
DK: Stay away from me. Way back.

Snow forecast 3″-5” tonight.


Image Credit

It’s all that matters

chair on stage

I couldn’t get comfortable. It was a straight back chair. I’m infused with a dull, throbbing haze. The prior evening included two cocktails, a late night dinner and four hours of sleep short of requirements for base level performance. A modest change in daily routine – having a disproportionate impact on operating equilibrium.

I’m sitting. Sort of. Restless. The metal bars on the seat back are leaving tracks, the comfort of r-bar. Rough, cold steel on skin.  I’m twisting.  Trying to find a comfort zone. Those seated behind me zig when I zag. I cross my leg one way. Then pull it back and scissor it over the other. I sit upright. I slouch. I throw my right arm over the back of the chair. Then the left. And then go through the cycle again.

I glance around. The room is fidgeting.

He walks onto the stage. He sits in a panel chair. He takes a drink of water. And waits for the interviewer’s first question.

He’s successful.

No.

He’s wildly successful.

A Horatio Alger story. He grew up in a family with modest means. His Father worked in government service. His Mother at home with the children.

The room is quiet. Locked-in.

His energy fills the room.  His mind is whirring.

He shares his view and insights on a wide swath of territory. Domestic policy. Economy. Government. Immigration. Social issues. Philanthropy. The Arts. Conservation. His Love of Country.

And without breaking stride, he injects self-deprecating experiences.

We’re in his web.

Q: What keeps you up at night?

A: I’m 6x years old. My Father passed away about this age. When you are 50, you believe you have another half to go. When you turn 60, there’s a keen realization that 2/3rd’s is gone.  A shift from a ‘lot to go’ to ‘what’s left’. I don’t know when…when my mind or body will no longer permit me to keep up the pace. But I have a lot that I want do…a lot I need to accomplish.

He pauses. Reflects. And continues. (The wildly successful man continues…)

A: What I really worry about is getting “that call” at night on one of our children. He shakes his head. Let’s set that aside. I worry about my children growing up with appropriate balance, with the appropriate values, given that they have been surrounded by great wealth. That is why I plan to give most of it away. At the end of the day, I want my children to be happy.

That is all that matters.

That is all that matters to me.


Passages?

love-sex-aging

OK, I need help interpreting the illustration:

  1. She’s single and sleeping alone. Courting suitors?
  2. She’s married. Shares her bed.
  3. She’s married. Shares her bed with another.  Their child.
  4. The family gets a dog. Dog sleeps in bed.  Less room on bed. (This is all sounding close to home.)
  5. She’s pushed out of bed by husband, child and dog? Further separation?
  6. Empty Nesters pull together?
  7. She’s alone. (Husband deceased? Divorced?) Finds peace in meditation and being alone?

Source: “Passages” – NY Times Sunday Book Review


They are stronger than I am. They are me.

woman-portrait-hair

Age is truly a time of heroic helplessness. One is confronted by one’s own incorrigibility. I am always saying to myself, “Look at you, and after a lifetime of trying.” I still have the vices that I have known and struggled with— well it seems like since birth. Many of them are modified , but not much. I can neither order nor command the hubbub of my mind. Or is it my nervous sensibility? This is not the effect of age; age only defines one’s boundaries. Life has changed me greatly, it has improved me greatly, but it has also left me practically the same. I cannot spell, I am over critical, egocentric and vulnerable. I cannot be simple. In my effort to be clear I become complicated. I know my faults so well that I pay them small heed. They are stronger than I am. They are me.

~ Florida Scott-Maxwell, Measure of My Days 


Related Post:

  • Florida Scott-Maxwell quote and bio @ I kept calling to you, and you did not come
  • Image Credit: Mme Scherzo.  Portrait is NOT Florida Scott-Maxwell but loved her hair and she seemed to be a peace with her vices. :) And who would she be? Someone important that I should know?

Now you are here, at 7:43. Now you are here, at 7:44. Now you are…

philip-seymour-hoffman
Synecdoche, New York (2008)
[over radio]

Millicent Weems: What was once before you – an exciting, mysterious future – is now behind you. Lived; understood; disappointing. You realize you are not special. You have struggled into existence, and are now slipping silently out of it. This is everyone’s experience. Every single one. The specifics hardly matter. Everyone’s everyone. So you are Adele, Hazel, Claire, Olive. You are Ellen. All her meager sadnesses are yours; all her loneliness; the gray, straw-like hair; her red raw hands. It’s yours. It is time for you to understand this.

Millicent Weems: Walk.

Millicent Weems: As the people who adore you stop adoring you; as they die; as they move on; as you shed them; as you shed your beauty; your youth; as the world forgets you; as you recognize your transience; as you begin to lose your characteristics one by one; as you learn there is no-one watching you, and there never was, you think only about driving – not coming from any place; not arriving any place. Just driving, counting off time. Now you are here, at 7:43. Now you are here, at 7:44. Now you are…

Millicent Weems: Gone.


In memory Philip Seymour Hoffman (July 23,1967 – February 2, 2014)


Credits: Image.  Script: Schonweider from the Movie “Synecdoche, New York” available at Amazon here.

Better to be dusty than polished

woman,face,hands,neck

We get a little further from perfection,
each year on the road,
I guess that’s what they call character,
I guess that’s just the way it goes,
better to be dusty than polished,
like some store window mannequin,
why don’t you touch me where i’m rusty,
let me stain your hands.

Ani DiFranco

 


Photograph: Eric Rose. Poem: Fables of the Reconstruction. Ani DiFranco Bio: Wiki

Something inside seems to be waiting, holding its breath

Alice-Walker

“Some periods of our growth are so confusing that we don’t even recognize that growth is happening. We may feel hostile or angry or weepy and hysterical, or we may feel depressed. It would never occur to us, unless we stumbled on a book or a person who explained to us, that we were in fact in the process of change, of actually becoming larger, spiritually, than we were before. Whenever we grow, we tend to feel it, as a young seed must feel the weight and inertia of the earth as it seeks to break out of its shell on its way to becoming a plant. Often the feeling is anything but pleasant. But what is most unpleasant is the not knowing what is happening. Those long periods when something inside ourselves seems to be waiting, holding its breath, unsure about what the next step should be, eventually become the periods we wait for, for it is in those periods that we realize that we are being prepared for the next phase of our life and that, in all probability, a new level of the personality is about to be revealed.”

I have led too serious a life

Henry-James

I have led too serious a life; but that perhaps, after all, preserves one’s youth. At all events, I have travelled too far, I have worked too hard, I have lived in brutal climates and associated with tiresome people. When a man has reached his fifty-second year without being, materially, the worse for wear — when he has fair health, a fair fortune, a tidy conscience and a complete exemption from embarrassing relatives — I suppose he is bound, in delicacy, to write himself happy.

~ Henry James (1843-1916) from The Diary of a Man of Fifty


Reference/Credits:

  • Henry James: “The Diary of a Man of Fifty is FREE at Amazon for Kindles/iPads.
  • Henry James was an American-born British writer, regarded as one of the key figures of 19th-century literary realism. He was the son of Henry James, Sr. and the brother of philosopher and psychologist William James and diarist Alice James.
  • Image and Quote Source: Brainpickings

Running. In Delirium.

forest-mist-path-winter

37° F.
Mianus River Park.
I park the car.
I queue up my music.
I cross the bridge to the entrance.

Light rain is falling.
Mist is floating – cobwebs in trees.
Steam is rising from the earth.

I start my climb.
Rain. Rocks. Roots. Ruts.
Wet leaves.
Muddy track.
Treacherous.
I short-step my run on the way up.

I’m 1/2 mile in.
Stomach isn’t right.  I’m woozy.
I slow my pace.
I’m lightheaded.
Lift your head man. Look straight ahead. Get a grip. [Read more...]

T.G.I.F.: We choose to be happy!

happy,smile,cute


Source: Themetapicture.com

Win the Race. Drop Dead from Exhaustion

funny-bear-gif-tired-exhausted

“What is it about upward mobility that undermines the health of these young Americans? In our studies, most participants are the first in their families to attend college. They feel tremendous internal pressure to succeed, so as to ensure their parents’ sacrifices have been worthwhile…Some young people respond to the pressure by doubling down on character strengths that have served them well, cultivating an even more determined persistence to succeed. This strategy, however, can backfire when it comes to health. Behaving diligently all of the time leaves people feeling exhausted and sapped of willpower. Worn out from having their noses to the grindstone all the time, they may let their health fall by the wayside, neglecting sleep and exercise, and like many of us, overindulging in comfort foods.”

~ Gregory E. Miller & Edith Chen, Can Upward Mobility Cost You Your Health?


Image Credit

I now imagine they are lanterns from the past, casting light on what’s ahead

winter,snow,street,street lights, street

Wonderful story by Chris Huntington in the New York Times on Learning to Measure Time in Love and Loss:

On regretting missed opportunities:

“I’m constantly aware of lost opportunities. I used to think such lost opportunities were beautiful towns flashing by my train windows, but now I imagine they are lanterns from the past, casting light on what’s ahead.”

On gratitude:

“When you’re 20, five years is a long time, so they act out. I used to be like that. But now I’m two-thirds done, so every day is taking me closer to the door. When I think like that, I can get up in the morning and smile.”

On love and loss:

“Our son is from Ethiopia, where I once saw a dead horse on the side of the road that resembled an abandoned sofa. I asked a friend if we needed to do something about that, and he said the wild dogs would take care of it.  We took our son far away from all of that five years ago, which may seem like a kindness, except it also hurts. I wish our son could know those dirt roads and the way they looked like chocolate milk in the rain, the way the hillsides were a delicate green, the way our driver would not go into the zoo because he was disgusted by the concrete ugliness of the lion cages. I wish my son’s birth parents could see him swimming. He’s such a good swimmer. I wish they could hear him reading books aloud. I wish he could know them. I wish our son could speak Oromo, the language of his birth. Our story, so full of love, is also full of loss.” [Read more...]

How Much Fun You’ll Have Tonight

New Year's Eve Party

Hmmmmmm.
I might add the following to the y-axis criteria:

+ Tolerance level/distance in commuting to a New Year’s Eve party (and finding a ride back)
+ Interest in shelling out piles of cash for the inflated cost of cover charge, dinner and cocktails
+ Excitement of socializing with 1,000s of your closest friends and talking about it the next day
+ Ability to stay up to/beyond midnight (which is beyond your 10pm shot clock)
+ Recovery period for digesting vast amounts of food and alcohol
+ Enjoyment of watching the ball drop in Times Square live (vs. from your couch on TV)


Credits:

A Reprise of Revelations: I feel like I’m tasting food for the first time


Would she, Elizabeth Roxas-Dobrish, 55 years old, former Ailey superstar and current artificial-hip owner — come out of retirement to dance at a special performance on New Year’s Eve? “Are you kidding me?” she responded. No, he was not kidding, and eventually the answer was yes, she would do it.

But knowing how to do something doesn’t mean being able to do it the same way you did it before. The dancers spoke of thinking one thing in their heads but having something else, perhaps, happen in their limbs. “Does the body do what it did when it was 20?”  “Maybe not.”

She was suffused by doubt. Her hip-replacement surgery had taken place at the end of 2012. “I also don’t have any A.C.L. in both of my knees,”

So she got to work. She enlisted the help of a physical therapist, a massage therapist and an acupuncturist; she tweaked her diet; she stepped up her Pilates; and she started going to class again. She began to see the dance from a new perspective, not just as a showcase for technique but as an expression of “all the things that life has put into you.”

And no, she said, she cannot do it exactly the same way she did when she was young: when she arches her back toward the floor while balancing on one leg and extending the other high into the air in one especially hard movement, for instance, she cannot bend back as far as she once did. “Alvin always said, ‘Ponytail to the floor,’ ” she said. “That’s not going to happen.” [Read more...]

Joy Johnson

Joy-Johnson

“She was 86, competing in the marathon for the 25th consecutive time. Even injured, she abided by one of her enduring rules for any race, which was to smile down the homestretch, aware of the roving race photographers and believing it never served anyone to be caught in a grimace.

Joy Johnson crossed the finish line at the New York City Marathon this year nearly eight hours after she began. Of the 50,266 people to finish, she was among the very last — wearing a pair of Nikes and a navy blue bow pinned neatly in her hair, leaning on a stranger for support. Her forehead was bloodied in a fall she took at around Mile 20…Johnson, who was raised on a Minnesota dairy farm and was given to cheery understatement, waved off any concern. “I wasn’t watching where I was going,” she told her sister shortly after finishing. “It looks just awful, but I’m fine.”

…she herself didn’t have an exercise regimen. Until one day in 1985, when she and her husband were newly retired and their four children all grown, Johnson, who was 59, took a three-mile walk and found it energizing. Soon she tried jogging and enjoyed that even more…As a senior citizen, she ran an average of three marathons a year, buttressed by dozens of shorter races, always with a bow in her hair. Her home in San Jose grew so cluttered with running medals and trophies that she began storing some of them in the garage.

Early the next morning, looking cheery, with her medal around her neck and a blue kerchief over her head, the right side of her face swaddled in bandages, Joy Johnson waited in the crowd outside NBC Studios to say hello, as she did postmarathon every year, to Al Roker (“a nice young man,” she called him) from the “Today” show…”

I won’t be a spoiler.  Be sure to read this article and how it finishes: Joy Johnson, a Marathoner to the End


Credits:

  • Elise, thank you for sharing.  Inspiring. How do you define grace and class: Joy Johnson.
  • Image & Article: NYTimes.com

All is Lost

movie

…By my count, “Grudge Match” and “Last Vegas” are the umpteenth stories for men, about men and by men in which men do something one last time and with the goal of making that last time epic. And always, in one way or another, these men yearn to stop time, at least for a moment.

…If these Arthurian quests tend to put a jokey face on the core mission — Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman (him again) are two guys living large and legendary while dying of cancer in “The Bucket List” — the implication is nevertheless tinged with pathos: Men crave one last victory before coming to terms with . . . well, something. Death, I guess. Or, if they’re not quite Eastwood’s age, perhaps they’re making peace with routine. Responsibility. Maturity. The old ball and chain that constitutes commitment. They’re hoping that maybe one phenomenally fun night of boozing, flirting, smashing things, driving fast, fighting, vomiting and slapping one another on the back will ease the pain of creaking knees, pouching gut, dimming memory and domestic servitude. Excelsior!

…Or something like that. I wouldn’t know. Because we women, we don’t play like that. I can’t think of one movie pitched to a female audience in which a gaggle of ladies or a pair of best gal pals go wild in an effort to recapture feelings of long-past girlish abandon…On-screen and in real life, women look to the future. We go for the forward-motion makeover, not the backward-glancing do-over. [Read more...]