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 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.

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 Sun Rising in the West.

4:35 a.m. Cove Island Park morning walk. 445 consecutive days. Like in a row. This train just keeps rollin’.

If there is a Heaven (and God, I hope so) it would be here, not in La Jolla, right here.

63° F. Low humidity. Gentle breeze at 5 mph off Long Island Sound.  And no Humans (yet).

Summer breeze makes me feel fine…blowin’ through the jasmine in my mind.  Go ahead, I know you want to. Lip sync it. I’ll wait for you.

It’s inevitable. When you trudge around in semi-darkness (aka daybreak), that sh*t will happen.

Circa 1 year ago, left foot plummeted down a 18” hole. It’s flat earth, and then there’s a Hole, out of nowhere. Down I go. Hyperventilating, thinking this Hole, was refuge for a wolverine, or a rabid raccoon.  I yank my foot out, rocks scrape knee, calf, leg —F*ckin’ H*ll.   [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:

Walking. With Georgia.

It was Sunday morning. 4:50 a.m. 68° F. Morning Walk @ Cove Island Park. 432 consecutive days, like in a row.

My “observations” from my Sunday walk led to yesterday’s Monday Morning Wake-Up Call post — a quote from Janwillem van de Wetering, about being proud of his awareness, proud of his awareness of his pride, being clever to know that he is stupid, etc. etc.

The quote landed. My cup of awareness (I thought) runneth over, and I have a vice grip on all that I don’t know.  But this observation seemed to bottom out.

This spring, with the increase in seasonal park traffic, garbage cans were planted throughout the Park — electric pink — surely colored to encourage patrons to dump their sh*t in the can. I did notice the green cans, but they seemed fewer in number. And for 100 straight days, I walked by these cans, tossed trash in these same cans, and zero light bulbs turned on.

Until Sunday morning.

They were wearing headlamps, lights bobbing up and down as they approached.

Her head was down, averting contact.

His head turned to me in response to my “Good Morning”.

“Good Morning, Sir” in a Spanish accent. There we go again. Another human being calling me ‘Sir.’  Respect? Or do they see a Retiree? Either way, de-stabilizing.

They kept walking. I took a few steps in the opposite direction, stopped, and turned to look back. [Read more…]

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…]

Driving I-95 S. Through another sh*tstorm…

Monday. 5:55 a.m. I-95 S in morning drive to work. I was moving too fast to snap a shot so you’re stuck with that photo of I-95, but it’s North-bound, mid-afternoon, in bumper to bumper traffic several weeks earlier.

Back to Monday morning, and this commuter’s meditation. The hum of tire rotation on pavement. A/C chilling the cabin. Instrumental music from Iceland’s greatest export, Ólafur Arnalds.

12 minutes from the office.

Pre-rush hour traffic flowing smoothly.  75 mph, and ~4 car lengths behind the car in front.  I shift in seat, unable to find sweet spot to ease the lower back pain. It could be worse.  Tune ends, playlist skips to next Arnalds’ track. Rob Roberge: “Words can intrude when the body wants to take over. Lyrics make you think—music helps you just feel.

Then…tail lights from car in front flicker once. Then twice. Then solid red.  Slowing in speed lane on I-95? Amygdala on high alert.  I tap the brakes, eyes scan the roadway. And there she comes: Bambi.  No. No. No.  She’s looking to cross 6 lanes of highway, 3 lanes separated by 5-foot concrete divider.

I lift my right hand the from gear stick, ready to shield myself as she comes through the windshield. My left clenches the steering wheel. And then super-slo-mo.

She dodges the car in front.

There’s a soft thump on my passenger side rear fender.

I see her clear the divider with a foot to spare…and can’t bear to watch any longer to see if she cleared oncoming traffic heading North.

Yanko Flores (The Morning Show): “There is nothing you can do to stop the wind from blowing. So what can you do…? You just keep on moving. And you brace yourself for the shitstorm.”

I turn my attention back to I-95. I find both hands clutching the steering wheel, and can’t seem to release.

I keep on moving…

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