Walking. With Degenerate Guardian Angel.

5:10 a.m. Morning Walk @ Cove Island Park.  471 consecutive days. Like in a Row.

77° F.  Light rain, high winds.  This climate change morphs into heavy rain with moderate winds.

Cloud cover 323%. Humidity, 933%.

I’m ready to fire, camera lens fogs up from the humidity. Hood cover can’t protect the lens from rain riding on wind gusts. I decided not to haul the backpack this morning. No rag to wipe the lens. Irritated.

I walk.

It’s dark. Up ahead, near a park bench, illuminated by the street lamp, there’s an empty take-out food carton on the bench, plastic forks, plastic knives, and napkins strewn on the grass. Highly Irritated.

Mind drifts back to Tuesday.  Man fishing at the point. He casts out into the Cove, his lure breaks the stillness of the water.

“Any luck?”

“No, but that’s OK. It’s just so peaceful and beautiful standing here, I can’t imagine being anywhere else at this moment.”

Gray hair, mid 70’s. He smiles, his white, straight teeth light up the morning. He stands looking at me. Me at him. He’s a kind looking man, a gentle man.

He reels in his line, and starts to pack up.

“I need to clean up a bit.”

“Clean up?” I ask.

He’s bending down to pick up trash discarded among the rocks along the shoreline.  An empty Perrier glass bottle. A fast food styrofoam container. Discarded cigarette box.

“It’s really disrespectful,” he says.

I had another stream of expletives for it but this man, so peaceful looking, possibly a man of clergy, didn’t deserve that, so I just nodded in agreement.

Dale’s post comes to mind. And then a vision of a degenerate Guardian Angel follows behind that. And there I float. Fifty feet above the shoreline.  Guardian Angel Garbage Vigilante. I’m holding a two-foot long, piece of rebar. I hover along with the wind currents, looking down, seeking an offender.  It doesn’t take long to find a defacator. I tap him (it’s always a him) on the shoulder, pointing back to his plastic cup. He looks up at me, and gives me the finger. I tap him on the shoulder again, asking “please”. He sniffs and keeps walking. I cock the rebar back (because I always carry rebar), it whistles through the air and crashes down across his left knuckles. He falls, writhing in the sand, reaching for his plastic cup.

“I did say please.”


Photo: DK @ Daybreak. 6:31 am, August 17, 2021. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.

Walking. With Billy Summers. (2)

77° F.  5:05 a.m. Morning Walk @ Cove Island Park.  466 consecutive days. Like in a Row.

Another sh*t night of no-to-restless sleep. Another, like in a row. I’m tired. I look up ‘irascible’ when I get home, because that’s a word that Lori would use. I am Irascible. I-R-A-S-C-I-B-L-E. Oxford defines it as quick-tempered. Yes, with a capital “I”.

I pull into the parking lot. ‘My’ parking spot is taken. I park in the same spot each morning. There has to be 300 open spots, and someone had to choose mine. ‘Mine.’

I get out of the car, grab my camera gear from the back seat, and walk. It’s twilight, aka near dark. I fail to see the curb next to the car.  My right toe slams into the concrete curb. I somehow manage not to take a header. F*cking curb. What is that doing here!*!$ The rest of the morning, my right toe tingles.

I note that there’s an unusually large number of cars at daybreak. And a large number of middle aged women mingling in front of the gate. [Don’t start slinging unfriendly fire at me Followers —  I said ‘large number’, not ‘Large.’]  They are blocking the first entrance to the park, requiring me to walk 50 feet down the line to the second entry.  I mean really? Do you all need to congregate in front of the gate chitter-chattering at 5:10 a.m. What could there possibly be so important to talk about. 

My rhythm is disrupted. I have a routine here, people. 466 days of it. And here you come with your, what, yoga group? Meditation sutras?  Keep clear.

Air is thick, heavy. I need to wear long pants and a long sweat shirt as armor from the gnats and mosquitos. It’s 5:25 a.m, it’s hot and I haven’t even gotten started. Leather straps from the backpack bite into my shoulder.  Camera straps pinch my neck. And that swish swish of the backpack pulls on the straps which dig and then cut skin. Latin: Irascibillis.

The scene reminds me of a line in Stephen King’s new book which is being pumped by Audible into my airpods: Billy Summers: “When things go wrong, they don’t waste time.” [Read more…]

Walking. With Billy Summers.

67° F. Cove Island Park.  Morning walk. 459 consecutive days. Like in a row.

Sun, all on its own, decides there’s no damn point getting up this early, is rising later, 5:55 a.m. per Dark Sky app.  And yet I’m struggling to make adjustments. So here we are. 3:38 a.m. Sciatica screaming the moment I stir with Jung’s fear of the journey to Hades having arrived. What if this Sciatica thing is with me the rest of the go? 

I ease out bed, try to shake that ugly thought from my head, and head for the scale.

Disgusting result.

Admit it, you’re looking for a full status report on the Refined Sugar Elimination Project. Not goin’ to get it. Nope.

I turn to the morning papers. Headline catches my attention. “Escaping the Efficiency Trap—and Finding Some Peace of MindThe more productive we are, the more pressure we feel. It’s time to break the busyness cycle.” “...the problem with trying to make time for everything that feels important is that you definitely never will. The reason isn’t that you haven’t yet discovered the right time management tricks or applied sufficient effort, or that you need to start getting up earlier, or that you’re generally useless. It’s that the underlying assumption is unwarranted: There’s no reason to believe you’ll ever feel “on top of things,” or make time for everything that matters, simply by getting more done. That’s because if you succeed in fitting more in, you’ll find the goal posts start to shift: More things will begin to seem important, meaningful or obligatory. Acquire a reputation for doing your work at amazing speed, and you’ll be given more of it. … The general principle in operation here is what we might call the “efficiency trap.” Rendering yourself more efficient—either by implementing various productivity techniques or by driving yourself harder—won’t generally result in the feeling of having “enough time,” because, all else being equal, the demands will increase to offset any benefits. Far from getting things done, you’ll be creating new things to do. For most of us, most of the time, it isn’t feasible to avoid the efficiency trap altogether. But the choice you can make is to stop believing you’ll ever solve the challenge of busyness by cramming more in, because that just makes matters worse. And once you stop investing in the idea that you might one day achieve peace of mind that way, it becomes easier to find peace of mind in the present, in the midst of overwhelming demands, because you’re no longer making your peace of mind dependent on dealing with all the demands. Once you stop believing that it might somehow be possible to avoid hard choices about time, it gets easier to make better ones….And so, like the dutiful and efficient worker I was, I’d put my energy into clearing the decks, cranking through the smaller stuff to get it out of the way—only to discover that doing so took the whole day, that the decks filled up again overnight anyway and that the moment for responding to the New Delhi email never arrived. One can waste years this way, systematically postponing precisely the things one cares about the most. What’s needed instead in such situations, I gradually came to understand, is a kind of anti-skill: not the counterproductive strategy of trying to make yourself more efficient but rather a willingness to resist such urges—to learn to stay with the anxiety of feeling overwhelmed, of not being on top of everything, without automatically responding by trying to fit more in..”

Burkeman goes on, and on. My eyes scan the words, one line, the next and the next. Heaviness sets in… a sinkin’ feeling. He’s in my head. You DK. This is You. [Read more…]

Walking. On Day 1.

60° F. Cove Island Park.  Morning walk. 452 consecutive days. Like in a row.

But before we roll on to today, let’s talk about yesterday.

Yesterday was Day 1: Refined sugar elimination.

And you might ask, why? Why change now? It’s all been workin’ right? 4-5 hours sleep on average. Walking around groaning, in a fog, a sort of seeing — hearing Quasimodo.

Susan shares a story in “Eating Well” magazine. Sciatica inflammation ‘may’ be due to my diet. Refined sugars. Processed foods. White bread. Pastas. May be contributors.

Day before —  a sugar rampage. 2 Klondike bars. 4 packages of Welch’s Fruit snacks. 1 almond chocolate bar, downed in 2 sittings because even I need to pace myself. 2 diet Lemon Snapples. Peanut butter on white bread, layered with 1/2″ of sour cherry preserves. 2 giant bagels, with cream cheese, and orange marmalade. I’m going to stop here. But, it does go on.

And I can feel what you are thinking right now —  “Have you no shame DK?” And I would say, either this: “Dance with the one that brun you here” or I would fire back: “Don’t you think the things people are most ashamed of are things they can’t help?” (C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces)

So, after another sleepless night, we’re going Cold Turkey. No baby steps here. ‘Definition of insanity…doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results..‘ Quote source: Not Einstein as many believe but Narcotics Anonymous. N-a-r-c-o-t-i-c-s.

Breakfast: Wheat Toast. Buttered. Scrambled eggs. Handful of nuts. Handful of cherries. Two glasses of water.  Pancake mix in pantry. Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Nuggets in cupboard. Giant chocolate chip cookies on the island in the Kitchen. Man walking, tiptoeing around landmines. 

I glare at Susan — “Eating Well? Is it any wonder I have all these fr*akin’ problems!?” I stop there, because after 35 years you know what’s coming: “you wanna do the grocery shopping?”

For Lunch: Ham & Cheese Omelette. Handful of almonds. Handful of raisins. Bowl of cut watermelon. One glass of water.  Klondike mini ice cream sandwiches in freezer. Peanut Butter and Mixed Berry Jelly in pantry. Frito Lay Barbecue potato chips in cupboard above the fridge. I smile. Restrain. I’m so much bigger than all this. I am. Really, I am.

[Read more…]

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…]

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