Running. With Other’s Service.

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5:09 a.m.

Long sleeved shirt. Lined sweatpants. Tuk.  Tuuuuuuuk. Gloves.

I synch up the straps on my Waist Pack, then inhale, and give it one more pull for extra measure. I exhale, and the straps dig into my belly. (Another reason why you need to run. And note the use ofWaist Pack’.  Men don’t run with Fanny Packs. And yet for some reason my lips form Fannnnnnnny. Not sure where this is going.)

I’m out the door.

41° F. Feels like 34° F. Brisk. Light Northern wind bites.

0.1 miles.  Garbage truck. Spot lights illuminate the back of the truck. Back breaking work. Rest of us sleeping. Drinking coffee. Reading the morning Paper. Meditating. Out for a run. And he’s taking out our trash.

0.6 miles. U.S. #1, aka Post Road. Three signs spaced about 50 feet apart. Food Drive. Darien, CT and people are hungry.  And like a spreading ink blot from a fountain pen, this morning’s run, in early light, turns dark, with a  replay of yesterday’s headlines.  “Covid-19 could detonate a ‘hunger pandemic.’ With millions at Risk.” “Food Banks Are Overrun, as Coronavirus Surges Demand…‘Never Seen Anything Like It’: Cars Line Up for Miles at Food Banks.” And, Kids Are Going Hungry Because of the Coronavirus. Children hungry. [Read more…]

Running. With Incongruity.

Friday. Early afternoon. A crack between conference calls.

I run.

I’m up a whopping seven pounds since being sheltered in place. There are no barriers to entry, to the Fridge, to the pantry, to the potato chips. Or the counter tops, which on alternative days are lined with Susan’s Chocolate chip cookies, Zucchini loaves and Banana Bread.

I flip her an article: “Forget the Sourdough. Everybody’s Baking Banana Bread” and highlight the punch line:

Nervous about venturing into markets, many people are making do with ingredients at hand, including the moldering bananas. In the past month, banana bread beat out pancakes, brownies and pizza dough as the No. 1 searched-for recipe in the U.S. and world-wide, according to Google. The humble loaves are taking a star turn on Instagram and Twitter…. “The isolation stages of grief,” another said, are “denial, anger, banana bread.”

But I feel little of this. No grief. No denial. Little isolation. OK, maybe anger, ever-present, on slow boil.

And yet again, I’m out of step with the Pack, feeling none of the isolation, feeling none of the mid-winter-like cabin fever others are swamped in. [Read more…]

Saturday Morning: We “Were” Running

WE WERE RUNNING

in memory of Annie Zeke*

We were running up the slope of a hill,
that dog and I, an early winter rain
beginning to fall, wind-driven and sharp,
the clouds so black the edges of the hills
were etched and incandescent. That dog
and I were running, the two of us
apart and yet together, and even now,
in the solitude of a quiet hour—the days
and that dog long gone—I can follow
those far-blown traces of unexpected joy
and find my way back again: heart wild,
lungs filling with the breath of winter,
and that dog beside me running headlong
into the world without end.

~ Peter Everwine, “We Were Running” in A Small Clearing (Aureole Press, 2016)


Notes:

  • Photo: Susan’s Photo of our Zeke* (RIP) taken at Baker Park.
  • Poem: Thank you The Hammock Papers

Saturday Morning (Post Thanksgiving)

I try to make all the big

of me small, small, small.

~ Elizabeth Acevedo, from “The Shit & the Fan” in The Poet X 


Photo: The List – What really happens to your body after Thanksgiving dinner?

Running. Not with Lorena.

Thanksgiving Day.

8 a.m.  43° F.

I haven’t run in weeks. Weeks. I don’t wanna run.

The TV in background is running a Netlix preview for The Irishman. Ah, yes. I’ve been waiting for this flick. I pause to watch the trailer.

The momentum is shifting here, I’m wobbly, a topple back onto the couch is so seductive. Rest DK. Take the morning off.

I stand shirtless in front of the mirror. And stare.  Eyes drop to the nipples*, they are firm, no slouching, and in so much better shape than the rest of me.  I apply Body Glide, like an amateur cross-country skier rubbing the wax stick on his skis, or in this case my entire upper torso. God knows, if I get going, chafing could run wild. The rest of me may come apart on this run, but there’s no chance Boobies** are going down.

Mind drifts to a short (but moving) 28-minute documentary I watched the night before: Lorena, Light-Footed Woman. Lorena is a 22-year old indigenous Raramuri woman from the Chihuahua region of Mexico (think mountainous territory, no others within miles.). She’s been a top finisher in ultramarathons (up to 62 miles) and runs in Raramuri dresses and sandals. Sandals! And not made by Tory Burch. A notable scene has her opening up a gift from a running shoe manufacturer, a pair of fluorescent orange, slick all-pro running shoes. She delicately opens the package, looks at the shoes, carefully places them back in the shoe box and says: “I don’t think I’ll use them. The people who do…are always running behind me.” And she bows her head turning away from the camera.  Don’t you just love her!

And so it goes, Lorena the night before, and the indigenous Connecticut Man on Thanksgiving Day.

On goes my sweat-wicking running shirt.

On go my running shorts.

On go my smart-wool socks.

On go my running pants.

On goes my running jacket.

On goes my Apple watch.

On go my running shoes.

On goes my fanny pack.

       In goes my Smartphone in the fanny pack.

       In goes the bottle of water in fanny pack.

On goes the Tuk.   And it’s a Tuk. Not Touque. Not Tuque. Or whatever else the French Canadians want to take credit for. Tuk was founded in Western Canada in the mid to late 60’s in a town called Castlegar. Don’t like it, re-write the story on Wiki. [Read more…]

Running. With Jelly Donuts.

I open my eyes. 5:35 a.m. I close my eyes, and take inventory.

Right groin, an old catcher’s mitt, stiff, cracks in the leather.

Knees, throb.

Three middle toes on right foot, blistered. Raw.

This is about where Tanya Donelly would say: “But you can change your story / And throw a hand up from the mud.”

But that’s not how we roll here. No Tanya. No.

This story (or catalyst) starts Wednesday after dinner.  The 7 pm to 8:30 pm witching hour(s). The Big Cat starts to pace, and circle. I want it. I need it. I crave it.

After taking inventory in the fridge, the cupboards, the pantry, none of the required provisions are available. I jump into the car and head to Palmer’s Market. Talenti Mint Chocolate Chip Gelato. (4 Pints). Nacho Cheese Doritos (Extra Large Bag). Chobani Fruit on the Bottom Yogurt, Pineapple flavored.  Stonewall Kitchen Sour Cherry Jam (to chase the Yogurt). And, then, in the glass case:  Donuts. Strawberry Jelly filled donuts.

The belt pulls the items towards the clerk. “Good evening Sir. Do you have a Palmer’s Card?” A wee bit of junk food with Dinner, Sir? “Sir, I don’t see a 2 pound bag of Domino Premium Pure Cane Granulated Sugar here. Shall I run and get it for you? And, Sir, in Aisle 3, we have hypodermic needles and rubber hose tie-offs. Step behind the counter here with me, and I’ll inject it for you, it will only take a minute.  [Read more…]

but for the chemical rush in the hour after, for the night of dreamless sleep

Exercise was always in extremes — a distance to traverse, an impossibly high number. Every summer spent in the vicinity of a pool, I was to do 100 laps per day. This, too, was referred to in a shorthand — “doing the laps” — that made it sound like normal penance for any vacation. Counting to 100 was a feat, much less swimming there, and my mind went numb with boredom while my family ate watermelon by the pool side. I associated exercise with punishment, with the glossy magazine’s injunction to achieve the perfect body, a waifish small-breasted form that no amount of hotel-room yoga would ever transform mine into.

And yet, when I graduated from college, something shifted. Left to my own devices, I discovered exercise could be as hedonic as any other indulgence. It was a matter of reframing the goal: not to become thin, which was as unlikely as tall or blond, but for the chemical rush in the hour after, for the night of dreamless sleep, for the feeling of my body, a diffuse, frontier-less thing…Exercise was time that was mine, where I owed nothing to anyone, and the next day’s aching muscles could be as secret a pleasure as bruises left by a lover.

Now every summer, whenever I can find a pool, I do the laps. The size of the pool may vary, but I always swim until 100. At the ocean, I choose a point as far away as I can — a distant boat, a rocky outgrowth — and swim to it and back. The pleasure is partly in the terror, halfway there, when the beach umbrellas are as small as glitter, that I will never make it back. The pulse of deep water, the blue-black whisper of down down down, the atavistic tremor as my body realizes, as all bodies have always known, how slight it is against an ocean. And then the adrenaline: thighs and waist and biceps concocted into ropes of steel, hands that slip and reach under the surface as softly as under a skirt, feet that pound impossibly far behind, until I am as long as the shoreline. I’m a strong swimmer but not a good one, and I gasp only to the right, eyes stinging with salt, until I can hear the shrieks and lifeguard whistles and ice cream bells, the sounds of the civilization I almost slipped away from. In the water, my body expands, loses itself, weightless. Back on the sand, blood still pulsing with the ocean’s beat, I contract back into shape, my shape, whose boundaries are finally my own.

The Hedonic Rush of Exercise” (NY Times, August 27, 2019)

 


Photo: David Hockney’s “John St. Clair Swimming, April 1972” from “Twenty Photographic Pictures by David Hockney” (1976). CreditCredit© David Hockney. Photo: Richard Schmidt.

‘New Year, New You’ B.S. (Hear! Hear!)

And now for “27 ways to feel bad about yourself while the last piece of Christmas pudding you’ve ‘indulged’ in is still making its way through your intestinal tract…”

As the new year dawns, you’ll notice that without ANY space to breathe whatsoever, what was once a newsfeed saturated with sequins, pints and party platters becomes one bursting at the seams with resistance bands, Nutri Bullets and all manner of “New Year, New You” rhetoric. If that works for you, great. If it doesn’t, keep on reading…

If you find all of this relentless (and, at times, negative) then join the club. I’ve decided I’m over it. I’ve clicked the “unsubscribe” button and it’s incredibly liberating.”New Year, New You” regimes are framed in such a way that they seem motivating, uplifting and encouraging. The reality is they’re designed to sell gym members and juice cleanses at a time when they’re most marketable and we’re most vulnerable. The sheer volume and velocity of this kind of content coming at us from every angle — while we’re still polishing off the last of the mince pies — can make us feel as though we’ve already failed within the first few minutes of the new year.Add to the mix, the pressure of New Year’s resolutions — which suggest that regardless of our current situation, we have much to improve upon; that we need to be better. We’re encouraged to set out a new set of goals, towards which to move to in the hopes of finding what we all want: happiness. We’ve barely finished the last verse of Auld Lang Syne and already, we’re exhausted, defeated and riddled with festive guilt.But here’s a thought: instead of subscribing to what’s become a very tired narrative, this year, let January be yours. (Read Caroline Foran’s 6 tips for moving forward here.)

So, if you insist on resolving to do something, do this: go easy on yourself, be your own benchmark for success. And think about the kind of lifestyle you want to live. Happy New Year.

~ Caroline Foran, from “6 reasons I no longer subscribe to ‘New Year, New You’ BS” (Mashable, January 1, 2019). Caroline Foran is a journalist and a best-selling author of “Owning It: Your Bullshit Free Guide to Living With Anxiety” and “The Confidence Kit: Your Bullsh*t-Free Guide to Owning Your Fear“.

Running Away. From the Salt Benediction.

 

We have a bad situation here. (Very)

One needs to take personal accountability. Yet, if I could, I would, find anyone, anything, to blame. 

The digital Nokia scale (Nokia Body Cardio WiFi Smart Scale in Black) was a Christmas gift from the kids last year. The gift wasn’t a subliminal message, but a blow with a blunt instrument. They see it, I can’t hide it. Man boobs. Pooch maturing to hang belly. And everything else, sliding, down, down, down.

So, for the next ~320 days, the morning ritual is the same. Step on the scale. Step off the scale. The Scale wirelessly sends the data to the iPhone app. The app fires off a notification:

“New weight measurement available.  Stepping on the scale every morning and opening Health Mate regularly will help you stay on track.” 

Right. Right.

Tuesday:

Nokia alert: “Good job. Your weight is up only 0.3 lbs from the day before.” Monday. Box of chocolates from colleague as a holiday gift along with a thank you note. A constant beckoning presence on my desk, a siren call. I put the conference call on mute. Pop a chocolate covered caramel in my mouth. Close my eyes. Let that blessing melt down my throat. [Read more…]

Running. The Day After, and Spewing…

That’s me running. The morning after Thanksgiving. Actually, no, it’s not. It’s not even close.

I’m not running near the ocean. I don’t have Ray Bans.  I don’t have orange Nikes or a tight fitting orange running jacket. I can’t have anything that snug around the belly that would trigger IBS, as one can’t be too careful a few miles out without facilities.

16° F. What the h*ll am I doing out here? It’s her. She’s responsible. 

My posture is not that.  My chest isn’t raised, leaning forward, taking short sips of cool air. I’m hunched over, panting, and I’m a mere 1.3 miles out. And oh, I’m damn sure, that if she were a runner (I don’t know that she is), she would look like this. With her sh*t all together.

While I know jack about my body parts or their workings, I do know that something just ain’t right between my right hip and my upper thigh – we’re hobbling here, not running.

I’ve never met her. She’s a WordPress blogging acquaintance. Unclear why she Follows, but I’m sure it’s rubbernecking. She’s a writer. Like a real one. Professional. Not like this show. [Read more…]

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