Walking. With All-Clear Signal.

6:00 am. yesterday. Twilight.  Cove Island Park morning walk. 528 days. Almost in a row.

Parking lot is full.  I mean fulland don’t like it. Daylight Savings Time ends November 7th. Spring Forward. Fall Back. It can’t come soon enough. Clear this park of its Humans.

Fall Back.

Fall Back.

Doctor’s Office. One month ago.

“Have you fallen down?”
“Sure.”
“Sure?”
“Yes.”
“What do you mean?”

Early morning walk. Right toe catches large stone on beach. Think Stop, Drop and Roll.  But without the Stop and Roll.  It’s Drop and Splat.  Entire moment happens so fast, I’m rattled. Laying face first.

He prods and pokes around my abdomen. Lifts my shirt. Slides it back down again.

“What’s this?”

Same morning. Still mostly darkish twilight. I’ve brushed myself off. I’m walking beside the break wall. The pokey end of tree branch, sharp, dry, catches me on forehead, an inch above my eye. My good eye.

“Hmmmmm.  Who’s your GP?” [Read more…]

Tuesday Morning Wake-Up Call

I beg your pardon, I hear my disease answer in reply to my many charges leveled against it—of trespass, hijack, squatting, invasion, vandalism, anxiety, psychosis, psoriasis (of the mind), catatonia (of the spirit), a Gordian knot (of my reason), poisoning, pollution, warping—I did not grow in you uninvited by the way you lived and the life that you were given to begin with. I started in you with time and from time. I opened my eyes thanks to you finding the combination to unlock my presence in you by the way you lived your life. I had no intention to riot against you, my host, upon whom I depended for sustenance and a quiet life—which is all I ever wanted. I did not intend to finish you and me in the process. As long as you lived on, so would I. As long as you left me undisturbed, I would keep quiet and dormant in you until the end of your days.

You see me as spikes, barbed wire, and broken bottles, all cutting edges in you, and you forget that you set me going, turned me on and cut me loose in your body. I did not expect it. All your talk, reading, and tree-hugging company, and demonstrations for good, signaled to me that I would not have a hectic life that charged to a rapid end for my host and for me, but that I would be in a quiet place, unseen and ignored and quite content to amble to an octogenarian’s crawl and walker decked with tennis balls for a snail’s mobility, staggering brakes and watch-paint-dry stoppage. I could see it when you meditated or did your yoga or ran or lifted weights or ate greens, lots of them, with poker-faced enjoyment. I stopped thinking of a day when I would be free to run to my end and in the process, bring about yours preternaturally early. [Read more…]

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

We hug across the gearbox console. I tell her I love her very much and she tells me she loves me too. I drive around the block of her school for her red face to clear and for her to stop hiccupping with upset. I beg her to forget everything bad that sprang out of my mouth. That I am a fool at the mercy of my diagnosis. That I lack the necessary control to be a proper father to her. She says she wants me to be her dad, none other, and that she loves me and she will be fine in a minute or two. She offers me my soaked handkerchief. I tell her to keep it in case she needs it again. She says that she is fine. We have never been closer and with such intensity—thanks to my cancer. We are late for the start of her school day. I tell her if she feels bad just call me or text and I will leave work and pick up her in under ten minutes. She says she will be fine, really. That I shouldn’t worry. That she feels better. She asks me how I am doing. I tell her I feel better too. We part with a brief lock of eyes and hurried mutual I-love-yous. Thank you, cancer. I called you a f*cker for turning up uninvited and ruining what was supposed to be the party of my life. Now I thank you. You turn up the intensity in my routine domesticity.

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…]

T.G.I.F.

I know enough to realize that any reprieve my body is granted is only ever temporary. The body has an expiration date, and for those of us who care enough to forge on, to race the clock, much of our life’s work has to do with keeping that date at bay with maintenance, with spit and Band-Aids and all the laughter and intimacy and love we can cram into any twenty-four-hour day.

— Gina Frangello, Blow Your House Down: A Story of Family, Feminism, and Treason (Counterpoint, April 6, 2021)


Photo: Rodney Smith (via seemoreandmore)

Walking. Beneath the Plimsoll line of conscious control.

4:26 a.m.

Dark Sky app: 48º F. Feels like 42º F, with wind gusts up to 27 mph. Cloud cover 95%. Light rain forecast in one hour… and, then, 100% cloud cover.

I slide on hoodie, with down jacket on top. Tuk over the ears. And out the door.

I ease into the front seat. Lower back, to hamstring, to thigh to left knee, sizzles. With both hands on the steering wheel, I close eyes, clench teeth, inhale, and wait for lightning to pass. I shift in seat, right, then left, then up straight, trying to locate the pain-free zone. Can’t shake it. I fire up the ignition, and drive.

With a sliver of time, a narrow window for light, I need to hustle. I slide out of the front seat, gingerly place right foot, and then left foot on the ground. I stand for a moment and wait for pain to subside. A few deep breaths, and sizzle settles to simmer, and its go-time.

390 consecutive days, like in a row. My morning walk at Cove Island Park. Backpack. Camera. And I’m off.

I walk. [Read more…]

Body

When bodies are discussed, especially in popular culture, it has often meant a very circumscribed set of themes, largely to do with what the body looks like or how to maintain it at a pinnacle of health. The body as a set of surfaces, of more or less pleasing aspect. The perfect, unattainable body, so smooth and gleaming it is practically alien. What to feed it, how to groom it, the multiple dismaying ways in which it might fail to fit in or measure up. But the element of the body that interested me was the experience of living inside it, inhabiting a vehicle that was so cataclysmically vulnerable, so unreliably subject to pleasure and pain, hatred and desire…

I wanted to formalise my understanding of the body, and I was fascinated too by the idea that it might have its own language, distant from speech but just as eloquent and meaningful, composed of symptoms and sensations rather than words… Over the next two years, I drew every bone, muscle and organ in the body, memorising their functions and their names, right down to the tiny bones of the hand: lunate and pisiform, named for their resemblance to moons and peas. On sheets of butcher’s paper, I mapped the metabolic transformations that went on inside the miniature factory of each cell. At the beginning I had only the crudest notion of how the body worked, but I struggled gamely on, fascinated and a little appalled by how much of my life happened beneath the Plimsoll line of conscious control. Gradually it all came into focus. The body was a device for processing the external world; a conversion machine, hoarding, transforming, discarding, stripping for parts.

Olivia Laing, Everybody: A Book About Freedom (W. W. Norton & Company, May 4, 2021)

 

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…]

Lightly Child, Lightly.

Later I went inside, out of the nostalgic sad autumnal smell of leaf smoke, and talked a few minutes to the girl propped in bed with her hair in pigtails. Despite the nausea, her eyes were extraordinarily bright. I thought she looked at me with the soft intensity, the tenderness, that I had seen in the eyes of too many people dying of cancer-the look that says how lovely are the shapes and colors of life and how dear the faces of friends, how desirable it all is, how soon to be lost.

― Wallace Stegner, All the Little Live Things (Penguin Books, December 1, 1991, first published 1967)


Notes:

  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”
  • Photo: Anne Jones with burning leaves

Truth


Source: Hartley Lin (formerly known by the pseudonym Ethan Rilly) is a cartoonist based in Montreal, Canada. Young Frances, the first collection from his ongoing comic book Pope Hats, won the 2019 Doug Wright Award for Best Book. He has drawn for The New Yorker, The Hollywood Reporter, Slate, Taddle Creek and HarperCollins. (via thisisn’thappiness)

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