Running. A Blossom Rupturing.

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It’s dark, I grope, I grip the wooden arm of the bannister at the top of the stairs. I’m about to take the first step down and here it comes. Not just one morning, every morning.

Must be Mandelstam’s Blossom. It hovers. It hammers. It is now.  It is not. It ruptures and raptures. I try to turn, to turn away to Light. Yet and yet and yet, it pulls me back. A beckoning for what? To what?

55° F. Saturday morning. I’m on the front porch. Rain is spitting Autumn, the season has turned.

Mile 2:
I look down. Gray shirt. Gray shorts.  Gray water bottle.  Gray and Blue shoes. I look up, Gray skies. Synchronicity – cosmic alignment. [Read more…]

Running. With a Mystical Moment.

parec simon

The eyes pan the green carpet of the unmarked plots at the Spring Grove Cemetery. Geese feed silently, showing their respect. The Police station is to my left. The Public Library in front. And there’s four miles of track ahead.

I slow my pace.

The eyes are drawn to the flock of Canada Geese.  It’s a large flock, fifty or so.

The eyes spot a difference. I’m awed at how the eyes can hone in so quickly on “what’s off.” I begin to hum the Sesame Street jingle: “One of these things (is Not like the others).” (Your mind works in mysterious ways, friend. Wow.)

She’s limping, badly. Her children, late season goslings, furry now, trail behind her.  Their necks are all down, pecking at seeds, the grass.

It’s been a week now and the image remains fresh.

Was it a car that hit her?  Or was it a scar from fleeing from the clutches of a predator? A hunter’s bullet grazing her webbed foot?  Or was she simply born lame? There’s no emergency room for repair. No splint or cast to heal.  No morphine to cut the edge. She limps. She lives. She protects her family.

And it’s Sunday. And your morning sermon doesn’t come from the inside of a Church, or from a person of Cloth, but from a Book.  This Agnostic is deep into his readings of Thomas Moore and his teachings of creating a personal religion. It’s as if he opened this chapter speaking to me: [Read more…]

Running. Some Rain Must Fall.

powder-blue-head-explode

“Fragment Palooza.”
“Repetition” in words and in theme. “Tiresome.”
“Lacks flow and rhythm.”
“Lacking depth.” (This one cut.)
“Can’t produce more than 500 words?”
“Have you thought of a creative writing class?”

I’m two miles into my morning run. The unsolicited feedback is swamping Audible’s narration of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle: Book 5: Some Rain Must Fall. And chirping in, is Brian Blanchfield’s new book of essays written without the internet and any reference sources.

I twist the earbuds deeper into each drum, turn up the volume and hope to drown the sh*t out.

The words from Book 5 continue to pump. Knausgaard’s autobiographic detail and flow is hypnotic. There are five published books in his series, with each averaging more than 500 pages. He goes back more than 40 years and walks us forward stone, by stone, by stone. (There you go again, with the repetition.) [Read more…]

Running. And, slow sailing to a quiet dance.

drum-drumline
It’s a coincidence. (Again?)
It’s synchronicity. (Do you believe that?)
You made it up, you’re delusional. (Not yet, don’t think so, not just yet.)
It’s a sign, a message. It’s G – – . (Oh, boy.)

5:45 am. I round the corner to Cove Island – low tide.  The sulfur released from the exposed mud fills the lungs – gas, pungent smelling salts.

I inhale.

Geese float silently in the shadows.

I run.

I’m around the loop and back, 1/4 mile from the entrance.  GPS flashes 4.1 miles in. I don’t glance at the time, that’s been a year now, I’ve conceded. “Matured.”  Over 25 years of daily tracking of body weight and notating work-outs, first in a log book, then Excel spreadsheets and now Google Sheets.  And also, now, on a parallel path on a digital step tracker which automatically feeds volumes of data into machines and is charted and graphed and spliced into pieces – all of which I never look at.  The logging, the tracking, the effort, I mean Really! WHO CARES?

Yet, the tension pulls at both ends, a medieval body rack tearing the limbs from the torso. Wired to Do, whipped by a Mind that makes you Do and strapped to a Body that can no longer Do. And, the Head swims in rip currents.

[Read more…]

Running. With a Black-Winged Bird.

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Sunday morning, early, 5:40 am.  Out the door.

Temperature: 78° F.  Humidity? 1 zillion, and climbing. Visibility? Fair. Mist rises from the earth, still absorbing the 3 am deluge – one very large compost pile.  It’s August in the Connecticut rainforest, and I run.  This should be corrected, I used to run. Now I lean forward and move my feet hoping not to take a header.  I’m 1/2 mile in, all exposed body parts glisten with a high sheen…and the rest are feelin’ Heavy.  I flip my music player to Counting Crows and The Rain King.  Yes, if you’ve followed along with me on this blog, this song and its reference would be a repeat. You get old, you repeat sh*t. That’s how it goes.

….When I think of heaven, (Deliver me in a black-winged bird) I think of flying…

I triple click the up volume arrow, Rain King is boomin’ into the earbuds.  The tech gremlin pipes in a warning: “Sir, you can sustain ear damage at high volumes.” Honey, no worries, there’s ain’t nothing up there will be damaged.

I round the corner and approach a steep incline. You’re Usain Bolt. You’re a Kenyan. You’re in Rio. You’re amazing!

I take off. [Read more…]

Running. With Man on Wire.

spider-web-close-up-kim-westcott

This body is 6’1″ and yet it always seems to hit me head-high. On the chin. Wraps around my forehead. Straps across the eyes, like strings of celophane plastered on the corneas. And on a bad day, at the end of a long morning run when I’m heaving, it hits me full on the mouth like strands of cotton candy, without the sweet and the color. Here, the scene would be a middle aged man who’s lost his marbles, arms waving maniacally and spitting like a machine gun.

Yet, it’s so fine. A fraction of the electrical wires slung between the poles overhead. Thinner than the monofilament fishing line I would cast in the eddies of the Kootenay river. And thinner yet, than the fiber optic cable laid across the Atlantic.

Yet on this road, this morning, this path less travelled, it was apparent that overnight he was working. At 5:15 a.m., it hit me across both eyes. A single strand. Not on the forehead. Not on the chest. Not on the knees. Not even on the neck. Not one eye, square across both eyes, as if he had a plum bob, measured me up and said: to get him, it has to be right here. 5’x” off the ground, and assume a bit of up and down motion because he’s running.

The single web line was strung across a two lane highway, to a tree on the other side. Across a two-lane highway!

How? Now that is the question(s). [Read more…]

Riding Metro North. And dragging it around.

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Who are we, really? Who is dragging this body around.” (Zen Koan)

4:55 am.
Just another Hump Day in August, but less torrid, and pleasant, really.

It’s a short walk to the station. The digital counter on the wrist flashes Step # 63, a reminder of the failure to reach 6500 steps by last day’s end.

A Lady, in her early 30’s, hair still damp, rushes onto the crowded train car, steps over the gap, looks down the aisle, lets out a sigh. She sets down her bag and stands. You watch. She stands. And stands. And stands. This weekend you opened the mailbox to find junk mail inviting you to join the AARP, and flung it with disgust into the recycling bin. Hey, at least she wasn’t pregnant.

The 7:30 morning meeting is cancelled, 15 minutes before start time. The same meeting requiring you to catch the first train. You launch an e-missile punctuating the finish with an exclamation mark.  Shrapnel hits the target — its impact boomerangs in a Return To Sender. Necessary?

You interrupt another mid sentence, again and again, to steer the discussion and to drive the pace. What is it that is so unsettling that flows in your blood? [Read more…]

Walking Cross-Town. With Scruffy Shoes.

shoe-shine-stand

Tuesday morning. It’s early. I’m walking down the tunnel at Grand Central Station. The air is heavy, the mammoth air conditioners have not yet fired up. I punch through the day’s calendar as I walk: Light.

I look down at my shoes. Scruffy.  Light Day, nothing major looming, scruffy shoes.

I accelerate the pace, the step counter on my watch silently records the activity. I stare at the watch face as the counter tracks each step, and marvel at the technology. I speed up and slow down, speed up and slow down, the step counter with me with each step.  What a child.

I walk by the shoe shine stand. It’s not yet 6 a.m. They are setting up:  A middle aged man and his wife (?) of Central American (?) origin. I slow, but decide I don’t have time to wait, and keep walking.

He catches the flicker of my interest, not unlike the habits of thousands of commuters who walk by, slow their pace, and think: Do I have time? Do I stop? Or some other time?

“Sir, please. Come. I can help you.”

[Read more…]

Muro 128

rodney-smith-book-ready-upside-down

I’m freakish about putting anything near my eyes (and anything touching my Adam’s Apple like a turtle neck – I tug and tug and tug at it to Free Willy. Get it off! Get it off!  Or the mouth guards dentists use to take impressions of my teeth and the chalky putty sliding down my throat, the eyes tearing, the gagging reflex, the choking, God, help me…Jesus that escalated quickly.)

It has become a necessary ritual to solve the eye-thing: Recurrent Corneal Erosion triggered by the back story here: I need to read.

The right hand grabs the 2.5 inch tube of Muro 128 5% Sodium Chloride Ophthalmic Ointment. I’ve made the switch from the cheaper generic. Raisin Bran maybe, but generics with eye lube? Saving a few bucks on chemicals you’re pouring into your eye balls, really? Are you nuts?

I think about why it’s Muro 128 and not 130 or 100 as I squeeze the salve in the lower lid. The hands tremble like an addict. I need this. I really need this. What I need is, to pay attention to the trembling hands inadvertently driving the aluminum tip of the tube through the eyeball into my brain.

One dab in each eye before bed time.

I pause, the chemicals coat the eye balls, the world goes blurry, I feel my way to bed. [Read more…]

Milk

drink-milk-spill

For half a century,
he opens the door and there it is.
Chillin’ and chilled.
Cold, smooth, white as snow.

From bottles, to cartons, to jugs.
On cereal.
With chocolate chip cookies and PB&J.
A chaser for warm apple crisp.

And then he wakes.

Blink.

A half a century later.

And this insomniac finds himself standing in front of the open refrigerator door. The same Boy who stood in a similar place on a similar summer morning in July. Bare foot.  White t-shirt. Undershorts. With the freon propellant misting him with its cool breeze. And he pauses to think.

Tolerant. To intolerant.

There he finds a plastic jug of 2% flanked by “All Natural Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Almond Milk.”

And a single thought comes to his mind. The title of the 1989 biography written by Marion Meade:

Dorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell Is This?


Notes:

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