In seven months, I'm scheduled to walk a half marathon. In six months, my first sprint triathlon. I'm toying with the idea of a Feb. 1 5k race. And I haven't walked so much as a mile in the past two weeks. I haven't done sit ups or lifted any weights, and my hopes for pool time in 2009 are nonexistent. And I feel MISERABLE. Achy and cranky and like no part of my body works quite right.
It's cold and wet and snowing, but the motivation to workout today has to come from somewhere, because if I don't get out and move around a little I am going to explode.
So I'm gearing myself up to put on my hiking boots (with murmured thanks to the girls who convinced me to make room for them in my suitcase); get out my wool socks, and grab my camera. Because if I'm going out in this mess, I should document the misery.
Mom and I got off the elevator on my dad's hospice floor today, and were making our way down the hall to his room when I saw a large crew of well-dressed guys - suits, ties, nicely coiffed hair. They were all assembled around the nurses' station in the middle of the hallway, and since people seemed to be making a fuss around them, I figured the fourth floor must be going through an inspection or a visit from the hospice board of directors.
I took one last glance before walking into dad's room, and that's when I saw the cause of all the hubbub: a short, balding guy in a green, prison issue jumpsuit, walking down the hall with his hands draped in front of him, WEARING HANDCUFFS, being escorted by a couple of the guys in suits.
I'm left to wonder if dad needs a bullet-proof vest for Christmas, or if he's going to be accidentally visited by gang bangers in search of an ailing colleague. This could be much more interesting than his mid-day Law and Order marathons.
Yesterday afternoon, my dad asked me to help him write his obituary. Actually, he suggested I "get a pad an a pen," and help him make a list from which I could write this last testament to his 72 years. I think he was a little surprised when I returned with my laptop. I am, after all, a professional.
I used to write obituaries for a living. Sort of. Obituaries were a part of my job working at a small weekly newspaper. People would often call our two-or three-person office and ask for the obituary desk. Somebody would put the phone on hold, tell me to pick it up, and I'd take the information. I really enjoyed the challenge of trying to depict the best of the deceased's life in just a few paragraphs, and I loved chronicling the life history of important locals.
We joked about the "obituary desk." Large papers have writers permanently on the obit beat, people who have an incredible skill for making sad notices of death a celebration of the deceased's life. Obituary writing is an art form, and I am far from a master.
When my grandma died, I wrote the obituary that appeared in the local paper, and it was far better than the generic one compiled by the local newspaper chain. It must have made an impression on my dad, because he wanted to make sure I had all the correct information. He said he was unimpressed by the obituary desk at the large chain newspaper, and how its forms allowed for "four inches that really say nothing." I'm not finished yet, but I've got two pages written from what we discussed yesterday.
But I'm having trouble depicting my dad. We've got dates and places and names and accomplishments, and all of that is great. But I'm not quite sure yet how to talk about the cookies and milk, the music and funny stories, or all the Halloweens he would park his car up the block and come home in costume, scaring us all as he walked through the front door dressed as a vampire or something.
I've got time yet to finish it, I hope, because this is the most important deadline I've ever faced, and I'm not quite ready yet.
I've registered. I'm confirmed. I've forked over way too much money. I am now walking a half marathon between Napa and Sonoma on July 19, 2009. In addition, I plan to compete in two sprint triathlons and possibly another half marathon next year.
As I've spent more time sitting than moving the past two weeks, I'm a little scared. But I have plenty of time before the intense training really begins. Stay tuned....
I had brunch with a dear friend today. It's a 13-year story of how we came to be sitting opposite one another at a restaurant in Manhattan, drinking booze (shortly) before noon and catching up in person for the first time in three (I think) years. It's a story filled with laughter and heartbreak and lots of good time spent doing nothing productive, and her fabulousness can't possibly be confined to anybody's website.
It all started in an English seminar our first year of college. I gained nothing of educational value from that class, but I earned some of the best friends anybody could ask for. She writes letters! And can spend an hour on the phone on a weekend afternoon. And we've maintained this friendship through roommates and housemates and mice infestations and all nighters and new jobs and bad boyfriends and many years spent on opposite sides of the country. And I know that if I need her at 4 am, she will honest-to-God answer the phone. I'm not quite sure I can expect that of some blood relatives.
MM (a nickname lovingly bestowed during our senior year) has no Internet persona. No blog. No Facebook profile (yet). No Twitter following. As such, she's never made an actual appearance on this site. Yes, she periodically pops in to make some comments, but she's never been in a photo, or on Flickr, or in an embedded link anywhere.
So today we're making some history in the 'nation, because MM and I spent a few hours talking about everything all at once over a huge bowl of coffee. A bowl so big, we had to document it.*
*Because, like she taught me our first year of college, EVERYTHING needs to be photographed for posterity. Or at least so that, when we're living in the Trinity wing of the nursing home, we can use the photos to jog our memories when each new resident moves in.
Posting has been light in the wake of National Blog Posting Month and the significant slowdown in my social life since coming East, but in honor of my cousin Jim, whose day seems to be a little sadder with quiet in the blogosphere, I present the best thing about being in New York in December:
This is my 10-speed bike. I got this bike for Christmas the year I was either 10 or 11, and over the decades I've ridden it everywhere. Last week, it got $80 worth of new tires (because I was seriously ripped off at the only bike shop in lower Westchester County), and with a little lubrication it's in pretty good riding condition.
The other day, I took it for a brief spin around town. It's a much lighter bike, and it handles much differently than my beater mountain bike. Today, I rode along streets I haven't seen in a decade, up the small rolling hills of Pelham Heights and past houses long ago occupied by friends. It's cold here right now, almost too cold to ride. But in my Under Armour and fleece and wearing the best cold-weather workout tights EVER, I had a wonderful, though not quite long enough, ride this afternoon. Thankfully, I got home before the rain started. I don't have the right kind of gear to ride in the rain.
It's cold in New York. And the suburbs aren't the safest place for bike riding. It's gray and kind of miserable today, at least from my perspective of sunny and 60s in a city with bike lanes and year-round outdoor exercise possibilities.
I'm trying really hard to keep a routine, but I've failed miserably at it the past several days. Today, however, I HAVE to be back in the game, because I'm getting cranky. So I'll put on three layers, and my gloves, and my ear warmers, and I'll get on my bike. And after I warm up, I know it will be fabulous.
Writer. Marathon walker. Sometimes-photographer. Cyclist. Musician. Lover of cheesecake, San Francisco baseball, and comfy sweatpants. See Jane Run Ambassador. Team in Training cyclist. My philosophy? Life is not meant to be lived on the sidelines.
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