T.G.I.F.

No physical appearance is worth not eating pasta for.

—  Matt Haig, with “One Beautiful Thing” in “The Comfort Book” (Penguin Life, July 6, 2021)

 


Photo Credit

Running. With Ripley. Believe It Or Not.

Monday. 4:15 a.m. Up since 3:15 a.m. And for the life of me, I can’t understand why. Monday is a holiday, followed by two weeks vacation, and here I am. Hypnos, where are thou Hypnos? 

I skim through old blog posts. My last running blog post, aka last time I ran, June 6, 2020 —  Running. No More. (For now). Wowza. 15 months ago. 457 consecutive days without running. Like in a Row.

Jan Grue “…but the days slip by at an uncomfortable speed.

I put on my running gear, and I step out the door. 

68° F, humidity is thick. Eugenides:  “…the air wishing it was water.” Mist hangs low over the street. Exactly, exactly like Ripley’s Believe It or Not.  

You might ask Why? Why this sudden urge to run. And I would say, I have no clue.  But the real Deep State, the subconscious, is whispering, yes you do DK. Yes you do.  Two major, MAJOR, dates approaching.

I put in 1.5 miles, feeling like a ½ marathon.

Soles hurt.
Ankles hurt.
Groins hurt.
Calves hurt.
Knees hurt.
Sciatica? Gone!

Tuesday. This morning. 4:00 a.m. 60° F.  No humidity.  Runner’s weather.  [Read more…]

Walking. With Someday & Soon.

479 consecutive days. Like in a Row.  Walking, at Cove Island Park.

~ 20 minutes before sunrise, and I’m walking the shoreline. It twitches. The surface stirs. Their bellies, silver flashes, mica flickering in twilight.

I look overhead. No gulls, no egrets, no herons. Enjoy your quiet time little people, while it lasts.

I keep walking. Multiple schools swirl ahead of me.

The Twilight Zone.

I walk.

Pages of James Tate Hill’s new memoir, Blind Man’s Bluff, turn. “It’s that meaning can rest in the smallest details, in every moment and gesture and line of dialogue.” 

The middle aged Chinese woman runner. Hardy girl that she is, running every morning straight through the winter months. She no longer runs on Weed Avenue, the main artery to the Park.  She ducks in and out of the side streets.  Fearing assault? Retribution for the Chinese Virus?

The Veteran Retiree. No sign of him in months. Visiting his grandchildren? Ill? Hospitalized?

Runner with Spandex and wired, Over-The-Ear headphones. He rolls on. Wired. With Over-the-Ear headphones. With Spandex. Luminescent disco blue. [Read more…]

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. 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…]

Walking. Swallowed up by Stegner…

172 mornings.

Today, 5:50 a.m., that’s 173.

Home to Cove Island Park, and back. Five mile loop.

Wallace Stegner (via Audible) has been keeping me company. The Spectactor Bird. Angle of Repose. Crossing to Safety. Remembering Laughter. All the Little Live Things.

And now, Stegner’s Recapitulation.

“Remembered habit created remembered reality. His needle ran in a groove.” (WS-R)

173 consecutive mornings. ~1,700,000 steps. I’d say that’s a groove.

As my feet pat the shoulder of the road, helicopters come whirling down from the red maples, illuminated against the street lamps. My mind lets go of the narration, I stop, and I watch, in silence. A warm gust of wind sends another troop of helicopters whirring down on me. Raining helicopters!

“That intense obsessed involvement, and then absence, silence.” (WS-R)

And then back to Stegner…and Recapitulation.

“Listen to those cottonwoods talking..Doesn’t that sound tell you, as much as any single signal in your life, who you are? Doesn’t it smell of sage and rabbit brush and shad scale? Doesn’t it have the feel of wet red ditch-bank sand in it, and the stir of a thunderstorm coming up over one of the little Mormon towns down in the plateaus? Just now, for a half second, it drowned me in associations and sensations. It brought back whole two people I used to love. When cottonwoods have been rattling at you all through your childhood, they mean home. I could have spent fifty years listening to the shamal thresh the palms in the date gardens of Hofuf, and never felt anything but out of place. But one puff of wind through those trees in the gully is enough to tell me, not that I have come home, but that I never left. Having let it surge through his head like the wind through the branches, he takes it back.” (WS-R)

And then, the aha moment.

My mind swimming in Stegner’s words for weeks.

Why so uninspired to write DK?

Try to follow behind that!

Forgettaboutit.


Notes:

  • WS-R = Wallace Stegner, Recapitulation (Penguin Books, November 1, 1997)
  • Photo: DK, Weed Ave, Stamford, CT. October 24, 2020. 6:26 am. 61° F.  Wind gusts: up to 13 mph.

Saturday Morning. Walking with Lucy.

4:30 am.

I shake off the cob webs from Tylenol PM.

Read morning papers, blog posts, skim social media.

Read another chapter of Christopher Beha’s “The Index of Self-Destructive Acts.”

Think about my index, and yesterday’s destructive acts. Guzzled two (or was it three?) bottles of Diet Snapple Peach Tea. Sugar Free. No preservatives. Turn the bottle to read the label. Aspartame, sodium, citric acid, potassium citrate, malic acid. Natural, my a**.

And then Nachos. Potato Chips. Three donuts. And, a large (large) number of Hershey’s Nuggets…like on a conveyor belt, I love Lucy and the Chocolate Factory. Oh, that milk chocolate sugar high.

C.S. Lewis said “Life (or Sugar), is as habit forming as cocaine. What then?” What then? What now?

I pause before weigh-in. Regret the Self-Destructive Acts. Inhale. Hope. I ease onto the scale, like tip-toeing is going to pare back a pound or two. A**holes believe that it will move down after yesterday’s performance. Disgusting. Disgusted.

I check the weather app. Think about how many layers I need. Should be one less with the extra layer of glazed donuts. Whale blubber is said to taste like arrowroot biscuits or Stop & Shop Cake donuts.

57° F, but breezy. No jacket. Tee-shirt. Long sleeved sweater. Camera gear. I walk by the island in the kitchen. 3 donuts left. Don’t you dare. Don’t even think about it. My mouth waters. My God, I have issues.

5:30 am.

I’m out the door.

152 consecutive days.

5 mile loop to Cove Island Park and back.

~10,000 steps…

600 calories…

Or approx 3 glazed donuts.

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

I started listening to this book on Audible during my morning walk last week. I had just completed the introduction and told Self: “This is a book you’ll never forget.

And YOU will likely say, why should I bother. Or as a line from Nestor’s intro says: “But why do I need to learn how to breathe? I’ve been breathing my whole life.”

Exactly what I said.

Now, I can’t get this book out of my head.

Every breath, a gift.


Excerpts from the Introduction:

“90 percent of us—very likely me, you, and almost everyone you know—is breathing incorrectly and that this failure is either causing or aggravating a laundry list of chronic diseases… This work was upending long-held beliefs in Western medical science. Yes, breathing in different patterns really can influence our body weight and overall health. Yes, how we breathe…

This book is a scientific adventure into the lost art and science of breathing. It explores the transformation that occurs inside our bodies every 3.3 seconds, the time it takes the average person to inhale and exhale…

It will take the average reader about 10,000 breaths to read from here to the end of the book. If I’ve done my job correctly, starting now, with every breath you take, you’ll have a deeper understanding of breathing and how best to do it. Twenty times a minute, ten times, through the mouth, nose, tracheostomy, or breathing tube, it’s not all the same. How we breathe really matters…

By your 3,000th breath, you’ll know the basics of restorative breathing…

By your 6,000th breath, you will have moved into the land of serious, conscious breathing…

By your 8,000th breath, you’ll have pushed even deeper into the body to tap, of all things, the nervous system…

By your 10,000th breath, and the close of this book, you and I will know how the air that enters your lungs affects every moment of your life and how to harness it to its full potential until your final breath…

By the law of averages, you will take 670 million breaths in your lifetime. Maybe you’ve already taken half of those. Maybe you’re on breath 669,000,000. Maybe you’d like to take a few million more.”

James Nestor, Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art (Riverhead Books, May 26, 2020)


Notes:

Saturday Morning Walk

Where does it start? Muscles tense. One leg a pillar, holding the body upright between the earth and sky. The other a pendulum, swinging from behind. Heel touches down. The whole weight of the body rolls forward onto the ball of the foot. The big toe pushes off, and the delicately balanced weight of the body shifts again. The legs reverse position. It starts with a step and then another step and then another that add up like taps on a drum to a rhythm, the rhythm of walking. The most obvious and the most obscure thing in the world, this walking that wanders so readily into religion, philosophy, landscape, urban policy, anatomy, allegory, and heartbreak.

—  Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking (Penguin Books (June 1, 2001)


Photo: Bjorn Breimo, Walking (Norway)

Walking. In Search of my Spirit Bird.

4:25 am. I’m out the door. Dark Sky app recap: 74° F, 100% humidity, cloud cover 89%.

It’s dark. A wafer thin haze hangs below the street lamps.

I walk.

A firefly flickers, gets caught up in a light wind gust, and disappears. And at that moment, unexplainably so, I felt Small, Little, against the backdrop of the World. This flickering, illuminating, little miracle. “What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” (Crowfoot, the Blackfoot warrior, 1890)

Me and Crowfoot?  Crowfoot and me? Crowfoot and I? Oh, for God Sake, let it go.

I walk.

Same route. 5-mile loop. Since May 5th, daily, without interruption. Same camera bag sling, slung over my right shoulder, camera affixed with strap to right wrist. The Autonoman

Raccoon up ahead, picking away at the remains of road kill. He skitters away as I approach. Sprinkler systems fire off at 4:30 am, hissing as water hits the street.

I walk.

I note the silence. This narrow slice of time, before daybreak. Nocturnal creatures and me. Afraid of horror movies, the dark and tripping in a pothole and taking a header, I march through the suburban streets on my way to the waterfront.

I take my first shots of The Cove, high tide.  And 78 additional shots that morning.  Little did I know, that 90 minutes later I would learn that all but 10 photos, would be blurry because of some dial I inadvertently depressed. Fuming, at my desk panning through the photos, rubbing my eyes, thinking it’s my f*cking eyes going, because it just can’t be this expensive camera. I move closer to the screen. It’s not my eyes.  My God. You are an Amateur. What a waste. [Read more…]

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