Walking. With you…

4:35 a.m.  73° F.  Humidity: 90%, feels like 150%.  Cove Island Park walk @ Daybreak.  439 consecutive days.  Like in a row.

Clouds hang heavy. Rain begins to spit. My Birds, are mostly in hiding this morning. As is My Sun. So I walk.

And I think…

My pre-walk readings drift in…

Yumi Sakugawa: “Most of the time, the universe speaks to us very quietly … in pockets of silence, in coincidences, in nature, in forgotten memories, in the shape of clouds, in moments of solitude, in small tugs at our hearts.”

I lip sync Y-U-M-I S-A-K-U-G-A-W-A. Love that name.

And then this one from a poem titled “Silence” by Billy Collins: “And there is the silence of this morning which I have broken with my pen…”

And this one from Roxane Gay: “Why People Are So Awful Online.” She writes “Online engagement is fueled by the hopelessness many feel when we consider the state of the world and the challenges we deal with in our day-to-day lives. Online spaces offer the hopeful fiction of a tangible cause and effect — an injustice answered by an immediate consequence. On Twitter, we can wield a small measure of power, avenge wrongs, punish villains, exalt the pure of heart…At least online, we can tell ourselves that the power imbalances between us flatten. Suddenly, we are all Goliaths in the Valley of Elah. (Yet) in our quest for this simulacrum of justice, however, we have lost all sense of proportion and scale…”

I pack up my gear, and head back to the car.

And here I sit. In front of my PC. 3,577 days (posting mostly every day, mostly in a row, every day since October 2, 2011.

~162,000 comments over this time.

I can count perhaps 10, maybe less than 10 comments, that were nasty. My contribution to cancel culture —
my blog, my comments — they are marked spam, deleted, and we move on to the overwhelmingly good.

A virtual friend sending pictures of giant Sandhill Cranes standing in her driveway.  Another sending pictures of his morning walks on beaches in the Carolinas. Another playing Words With Friends.  Others sharing Camel photos on Hump Day. (Who would have thought that this stupid ritual could go on for more than 10 years?) Others, like family, consistently showing up, cheering me on, even if the art that was presented was cringe-worthy. Others quietly liking posts in the background.

Roxane, I hear you about the awful. I get it.

But not here.

Not in this community, this Oasis from the madness. No hatred here. All perspectives kindly presented are welcome.

Dana Spiotta said it best:

“Don’t think about yourself. For the sake of decency.” 


Notes:

…the hot breath of impending Armageddon

But something about Facebook brought out truly juvenile impulses…There was a bit of bad faith in smugly ridiculing these poor people. Posts tended toward selfies of rosacea-faced long-haired women in old-style prairie dresses and lots of pregnancy crowdsourcing about progesterone and wild yams. So what, if that it what they believe? Laughing at them was a shabby use of her time, but she knew part of what made Facebook — and the internet, really — addicting was simultaneously indulging your own obsessions while mocking (deriding, denouncing even) the obsessions of others from the safety of your screen. It was hard to resist, and indulging this impulse — even silently to yourself — made everything worse, made you worse, she was sure of it. … That led her to Twitter and back to Facebook, to wildly out-of-proportion, aggro throw downs between various vegan groups and carnivore groups, omnivores and fasters. Diet had apparently become the major battlefield for all the dispossessed (i.e., all of us). There was something quaintly nineteenth-century American about it all: the focus on health, the zealotry, the desire for perfection, and the hot breath of impending Armageddon. She clicked, she tapped, she followed, she liked. A few groups she joined, and always she lurked.

Dana Spiotta, Wayward: A Novel (Knopf, July 6, 2021)


Image & Book Review from Los Angeles Times: “Dana Spiotta’s novel of midlife female rage”.

Walking. And Self Medicating.

4:20 a.m. 61° F.  Wind gusting. Dark Sky signals cloud cover @ 100%. Rain in an hour.

I walk.

Cove Island Park. 424 consecutive mornings. Like in a row.

Why so groggy? 

Mind scans the pre-bed time routine.

  • Shower.
  • + 2 Advil PMs. Essential for 6 hours of sleep.
  • + 2 Advil Dual Action Acetaminophens. ‘Now get up to 8 hours of powerful relief…lower back pain…’ It ain’t eight hours of relief. It’s like four. And I’m now on Amazon’s monthly, serial subscription ordering plan.
  • + 1 little blue pill. To keep the pipes running. TMI.
  • + Sugar, throughout the day up to bed time. In the form of handfuls of Hersey’s nuggets, bags of Welch’s Fruit Snacks (they are small bags), and the latest addition — Swiss Miss Premium Rich Chocolate Hot Cocoa. With a handful of mini marshmallows sprinkled on top.

There was a time. No flu shots. No aspirin. No cold medication. No allergy medicine. No Anything. A diesel engine that would just keep running. Middle age Plus = Wheels coming off this bus.

I walk. Limping. Left, lower back in a bad place.  Internal parts, bones, blood, arteries, nerve endings, all sloshing in a sugar bath.

Nope. I don’t want scolding, coaching or gentle persuasion from you Sugar-Free Vegan’s out there. No. Don’t want to hear it. This isn’t a Cocaine problem, or an Oxycontin problem (yet).

I walk. Back is loosening up. [Read more…]

Walking. Not. And Ranting.

Where does one start?

Let’s start with 327 consecutive days. Like in a row. Formerly described as the morning walk @ daybreak to Cove Island Park.

It’s time to inject some integrity into this getting-long-in-the-tooth story. This morning walk has degenerated into a morning drive to the Park. There I am this morning, sitting in the car in front of the gate at the park, heater blowing, warming my feet — I can’t, I just can’t open the door and get out. So, rather than getting out, I leave and drive to the next site on DK’s Marvelous Adventure in search of the sunrise from a location where I can roll down the window and not get my sorry a** out of the car. Wow, DK. You’re so awesome.

Or we can commiserate over the free fall in weight gain, or better stated, the pile up of 8 lbs in 30 days. Root cause? If one would take inventory of the snacking between calls and meetings, you would say: “It’s just not possible.” And I’m here to tell you, if you put your mind to it, an addict can accomplish anything.

We’ve pivoted to Welch’s Mixed Fruit Snacks. The Honeycrisp apples sit on the wicker tray on the island in the kitchen. The plump, juicy, seedless red grapes rest in the bowl in the fridge. Next to the grapes, fresh cut cantaloupe in the tupperware dish. And the horse with its blinders can’t see any of it. With the heartbeat elevated, a few feet away from The Fix, a giant Costco size box of Fruit Snacks. I grab two handfuls and run back to my office to jump on another call. My hands trembling, saliva building up in anticipation… I rip open the package and drain its contents. Pause for a second. And then bite down to let the saliva-sugar-corn syrup puree coat my tongue, throat and then slide down to the tummy. Oh, the few seconds of relief…with the sugar fix in, the momentary silence… all intoxicating. I get after another package. And repeat. And repeat. And repeat. You see where this is going.

Or we can chat about yesterday’s bi-annual physical with my G.P.

[Read more…]

Walking. Heart & Out of My Mind

It’s been almost a full month since I’ve had anything to say on this blog. A full month. It’s as if I’ve lost my voice. Posting puppy pictures. Sylvia Plath quotes. Camels. What’s next? Memes?

This dry spell coincides with my sipping of the ~900 page tome by Heather Clark: “Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath.” And here’s Sylvia: “I will seek to progress, to whip myself on, to more and more—to learning. Always.” Live & Learn? We see where that got her, right?

257 consecutive days. My morning walks around Cove Island Park. Without a single missed day. That’s today’s climax, up top. What can one possibly say, or write about, that’s more important than THIS? That’s bigger than THIS? 

It used to matter, blogging, that is. It used to mean something. Posting every day. Sometimes twice day. Driving stats. Checking stats.  Boosting views. Gaining followers.  Counting Likes.

Today, not so much.

Sawsan poked the Bear about a week ago when she noticed posts have moved from daily to something else. I’m reconsidering this blogging thing. Running out of steam. [Read more…]

Walking. Like who’s watching who?

The nocturnals. Or the insomniacs. Or both.

There’s a handful of us that walk Cove Island Park in twilight, before daybreak.

There’s the lady with the Lime Green winter coat. Knee length. Fur lined hood, always up. Most noticeable, besides the strobe-like-pulsing, lime green coat, is that you can see her across the entire length of the park. Her arms stiff and straight, swing up and high, then sharply down, and repeat. I watch her. I find it all hypnotic. Like a giant tropical parrot, with her wings clipped, trying to get airborne. She read somewhere that if you ball your fingers into a fist and slash your arms way up and sharply down, you will lose many more calories then if you walked like a normal human. She passes me, never makes eye contact.  I wouldn’t make eye contact either walking like that.

I walk.

I note that I hold my arms tight to my sides, then wonder if others look at me. “Look at him. Poor thing. He must have something wrong with him. His arms don’t move.” So I move my arms just a wee bit to and fro but it’s awkward. It’s somewhere in between Lime Green and a Robot, creating a lot of resistance so I can’t build up any momentum. Jesus help me. 

I walk.

There’s the runner. Always shares a perky good morning. No matter what the conditions. Man, ~ est. early 40’s, tight spandex-like bottoms. Large, big bezeled iPhone (Early model) strapped to his right bicep. A runner, he circles the loop 3x, big grin on his face as he passes. Reminds me of a younger Roper (Norman Fell), the landlord on Three’s Company. I watch him as he passes. Happy SOB isn’t he? When’s that last time I ran? It’s been months. And there used to be a time when I cared. And look at me, I could care less. God, what a slug. [Read more…]

Morning Walk. See. Feel. But still can’t sit.

186 Days.
You know the drill.
Consecutive days.
5 miles from Home to Cove Island Park and back. Sort of.

Last week, on a bitter cold and wet morning, and pressed for time, I jumped in the car, and drove to the park. To keep the streak alive.

Heater blowing on my feet. Wind gusts and rain battering the car. And there I was, sheltered and toasty. Protected from all that God could throw at me that morning. Not sure why God was on my mind, but C.S. Lewis called it: “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.

And so here we are. This morning. 186 consecutive days. I’m migrating, with the birds. But instead of Southward bound, it’s a downward spiral on the Sedentary Bus.

It was Running (for years).

Then Walking for less than a year.

Now Sitting. Just can’t get it going.

I drive to the Park. I take one slow walk around the loop. And make my way to the Point.

Sunrise is at 6:30 a.m. It’s 6:13 a.m.

I’m restless. (Permanent Condition). 17 min to sun up. What to do? What to do?

I notice a bench a few yards in front of me. I can feel tension, in my bones, in the flesh, in my mind —  it flashes No. I think back to Morning Walk. See, But Can’t Sit. Man, you have all sorts of problems. Just sit on it.

I approach the bench. There is a copper plate affixed In Memoriam…

I hadn’t ever noticed.

I scan the area. Bench here. Bench there. Benches everywhere. I never noticed.

I walk by each reading the inscriptions. I find myself drawn in. I walk slowly from one to the next.

  1. In Loving Memory. Vita & Gus. Andover – Where the Weeping Willow Stood.
  2. In Loving Memory. “DeeDee”. Wife, Mother, Sister. Grandmother. A friend to all she met. 1946-2016.
  3. In Loving Memory. Bob. Husband, Dad, Papa, Brother, Uncle, Cousin, Friend. 1942-2019.
  4. In Loving Memory. Dominick and Mary. 2011.
  5. In Memory of Debbie. 1976-2008., Love You Forever…
  6. In Memory of Joseph. 1913-2004.
  7. In Loving Memory of Peter. 1947-2011. A man who actively enjoyed all seasons of life at Cove Island Park.
  8. In Loving Memory. “Bim”. 1928-2014.
  9. In Loving Memory of Raymond. 1932-2007. Raymond’s roots ran deep. Deeply loved. Loved deeply.
  10. Beloved Grandson. Christopher. 1996-2014.
  11. Inhale the Beauty. Joan and Bill.
  12. In Loving Memory of Edwin & Margaret.
  13. Mary Pauline. 1943-2015. In our hearts forever. Your loving husband and family.
  14. In Loving Memory of Joseph. “Fish On.”
  15. In Loving Memory of Connie. September 1998
  16. Diane. 1946-2014. My Wife – My Love – My Companion in Life. I Miss You. Gordon.
  17. John. 1950-2017. Devoted Husband, loving father
  18. In Loving Memory of Melvin. He brought so much joy to so many.
  19. Louise’s Bench. (No dates. Just Louise’s Bench)
  20. In Loving Memory of Timothy and Grace.
  21. Our Sweet Angel. Maria. You lifted our spirts with Love, Laughter, Music and Dance. 1973-2015.
  22. Raymond. 1943-2018. The best things in life are the ones you love.
  23. In loving memory of Joseph “Little Joe”. Known for his love of family friends, Harleys, Corvettes and sunny days at the beach, Remember me, when you look into the seas…and there I’ll be. 1948-2015
  24. In Loving Memory of Jennifer. Your beautiful smile remains forever in our hearts

I look at my watch, it’s 6:29, a minute from sunrise. I walk to the last bench.  The gulls are now quiet, they too wait for the Sun in our moment of silence.

I’m reading the last, Bench #25…I brush my fingers over the metal plate. Over the letters making up soft, and then the letters breeze, and then gentle and tide and kind and heart. And then my index finger skips over the letters making up Love always

I brush away a tear, and then another…

[Read more…]

All I need is…?

Yesterday, WordPress sent a congratulations email to celebrate another year blogging on WordPress. I deleted it without reading the details. Another year. Ho Hum.

4 days ago, Mimi drops me an email inquiring about post absences. “Out of character. What’s Up? You ok?” Uninspired, was the response.

This morning Sawsan sends a text: “3 Consecutive Days of late posts, did you move to a new time zone?” Nope. Like Roberto Duran, No Mas.

So, I walk. Cove Island Loop. Outside never fails to inspire.

I get home to jot down my notes.

I search my email trash bin to find the WordPress anniversary message.

My first post was in October 2011. 9 years ago. 9 years of Life.

I turn my attention back to this post.

And I’m blank…

Blank but for passages in Hisham Matar’s Pulitzer Prize winning memoir, The Return, and two related thoughts.

  1. …like the fan shape the fisherman’s net leaves when it touches the surface of the water, was only momentarily perceptible…” I hope that in some small way this blog has brought some enjoyment to your day.
  2. No amount of gratitude would be sufficient.”

Thank you all.

 


Image: Edited from bloggingmode.com

Walking. With On Golden Pond.

3:30 am: Up. Six hours of sleep, easily two short. Two shots of Tylenol PM won’t keep this guy down. I think about amping up the dosage to three, soft baby blue, colored pills —  bad idea Doctor, bad idea.

3:35 am: Skim morning papers. RSS reader feeds. Blog Posts. Emails. Texts. Read a passage from Joyce Maynard’s At Home in the World where J.D. Salinger tells her: “Some day, Joyce…there will be a story you want to tell for no better reason than because it matters to you more than any other…You’ll stop looking over your shoulder to make sure you’re keeping everybody happy, and you’ll simply write what’s real and true. Honest writing always makes people nervous, and they’ll think of all kinds of ways to make your life hell. One day a long time from now you’ll cease to care anymore whom you please or what anybody has to say about you. That’s when you’ll finally produce the work you’re capable of.” Hmmm. Not ready for ‘real and true.’ And ‘honesty’ makes me nervous. But Salinger does offer sound reasoning for the mediocrity that spills out onto this page. There’ll be time enough to chase the written word that I’m capable of.

4:25 am: Strip, including Apple Watch. Ounces make massive differences. I step on the digital scale, and inhale. The figures race upward, like slots in Vegas, having similar odds.  It stops hard on the Score. I exhale.  Wow, good result. Space for large breakfast.

4:35 am: Check temperature. 60° F. Put on long sleeve shirt. 60° F and I need long sleeve shirt. For some reason this triggers a scene from “On Golden Pond” where Katherine Hepburn shouts: “Don’t be such an old poop Norman.”

4:40 am. 38 consecutive daybreaks in a row. On same walk. same location. same loop. I know precisely what time to leave the house to walk the mile to Long Island Sound and arrive ten minutes before Sunrise. I make a point to google WebMD when I get home to diagnose my form of OCD. I pack my camera bag, take 3 large gulps of water, and head out the door.

5:10 am. I’m on shoulder of Weed Avenue. The geese, 50 or so, float ever-so-still, catching their last bit of shut eye before the day starts.  There are two swans, with their heads tucked under their wings. Must be cozy in there. And mallards interspersed among the others in the sleepover.

There’s no traffic. Long Island Sound is quiet. The World gives Sun its moment of silence.

5:25 am. Here comes the Sun. The World stands still to watch the spectacle. I snap a few shots, put the camera down. And watch, the Sun, in all its glory, with gold and orange hues.

A loon, with its long, curved neck, breaks the silence with its call.

And this triggers another line from “On Golden Pond“. “Come here, Norman. Hurry up. The loons! The loons! They’re welcoming us back.”

Yes, they welcome me back. Thankfully. Again.

Each breath, a Gift.


Daybreak. 5:25 am. June 13, 2020. 60° F. Wind: 9 mph. Gusts: 22 mph. Cloud Cover: 3%. Weed Ave, Stamford, CT.

WFH? Give me another 4 weeks.

Week 2, Work-From-Home, which today in work parlance is WFH.

No early commutes in, or exhausting rides home. No hiding your iPhone to play Words-With-Friends during slow meetings. Had enough? Just turn on ‘Do Not Disturb’, close your eyes, lean back in your chair, and drift away for a few moments.  Or turn to your Kindle app and read a few pages from Yiyun Li’s Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life. “Can one live without what one cannot have,” she asks. I pause at this, and Wonder. Can I?

And WFH here, involves Father and his 26-year Son.

Both suffer from immune deficiency disorders of differing severity levels. Both hunkered down to stay out of the path of COVID-19.

Father in his make-shift office. Anchored to his chair, desktop computer, internet phone, headset and a notepad to scribble. Many days, not more than 1300 steps all day, most to run down to the Fridge. Potato Chips. A fix (or two) of Talenti Gelato. A handful of pistachios. Then, a short run back upstairs to calls. Up 6 lbs since WFH has commenced, and unfazed. Could be worse.

Son prefers to work from his bed. Two laptops running, iPhone on his bed, playstation cued up, ear buds to take his calls. He’s sipping from a tall glass of water. No junk food here. He’s lean, fit, a full head of hair and sits in his shorts and tee-shirt, sock-less, while the morning sun beams in. When did I get so old?

I sit next to him on his bed. Nudge him over. “Come on, give me a little room.” He grunts, and moves over. I lean into him while we check messages on our iPhones.  Illya Kaminsky, that word magician, describes the moments. “…but something silent in us strengthens

And then we have lunch.

And then we sit and have dinner, and we argue over the madness in the 6pm White House Briefings.

And the next day, we repeat.

COVID-19? Give me another 4 weeks. I’m going to remember this.


Art: Kendall Kessler, Clyde and Alan

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