Tag Archives: walking

135journals: My husband’s first day as a free man

30 Jun
My dear husband will be wearing these glasses every day until forever. Promise!

My dear husband will be wearing these glasses every day until forever. Promise!

Yesterday was the first day of the rest of  Brian’s life. That is to say, it was the first Monday of his life as a member of the retired. What will he do with this endless expanse of possibility? Right now, his intention is to keep it open. He hasn’t spent the last whatever years of his life teaching Asian literature for nothing. The beautiful spareness of Chinese poetry pulls at his heart. So does the Japanese concept of Ma, or negative space. Although, in the Japanese thought Ma has a much more dynamic and interactive meaning than not being. It is part of the fabric of the whole, a part of the dance of possibilities. Oh dear, I am getting very abstract here. What I mean is, my husband is bravely trying to let himself be open and to find out what calls to him. And I am very interested to see what this human being to whom I’ve been married for the past 30 years is going to discover.

His first no-longer-employed Monday was not entirely filled with Ma. I had an appointment with a famousy-famous hip surgeon to see if I needed hip surgery at the famousy-famous Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. I didn’t think I needed hip surgery, but another one of my doctors thought, well, maybe, I don’t know, just check it out, so grumblingly, I did. I reorganized my gigantic binder of tests and visits and brought it in. And this time, I brought Mr. HH with me. Despite my relative certainty that I wouldn’t need surgery (maybe some kind of injection though because of osteoarthritis?) I did feel afraid. I’ve gone to many scary doctor appointments by myself, and most of the time I’ve managed okay, but sometimes I come out of them with this jumble of notes that don’t make any sense because I’ve felt a rushing of panic clogging my ears when the doctor was giving me information. So the dear husband and I agreed that he would come to scary appointment and be a second set of ears for me. Anyway, I had some X-rays, talked to perfectly nice doctor, don’t need surgery, then husband and I had a pleasant walk around the Upper East Side.

“Look at that building,” Brian said, pointing to an old brick building. “A Czech gymnasium. I see a lot of Czech names around here” (near 70th and York).

“I think  a lot of Czechs and Germans settled this neighborhood,” I said. “Every part of Manhattan is so different.”

“It’s so different when you walk it,” he said.

“I know what we should do!” I said. “We should get a big map of Manhattan and get a yellow marker and color in every street we walk after your retirement. And we should walk every street in Manhattan!”

“Where does anybody even get a map nowadays?” he said. “Everybody has GPS.”

“Huh.” I was stumped, too. Maybe off the internet? Barnes and Noble? I don’t know.

He looks at his phone. “There’s a gourmet shop ten blocks away. We can get cheese.” Cheese is part of his holy trinity of consumables, along with coffee and bread. So we wandered uptown past more stores. We people watched. I saw lots of people walking dogs. I saw a woman carrying a dog. I saw lots of doggy day care businesses. There is no shortage of dogs in New York. And I almost never, ever see dog poop. So, good work, New Yorkers. The Upper East Side is full of uniformed private school kids who burst out into the streets at 3:30 or so, along with moms and dads and nannies with strollers. I see a schlumpy looking guy in a Gilligan hat and pink socks lumping across the street. People wearing neon-bright sneakers–that’s a thing now, I guess. Lots of women with pretty legs and short skirts and little sandals. Workers with hard hats ignoring interested onlookers. Street sellers hawking fruit, scarves, books, watches.

At the gourmet shop we buy two small pieces of ridiculously expensive cheese and linger over other delicious but outlandishly expensive items–gluten free lemon bars, figs, bright red $5.99 a pound tomatoes. As we leave we see the pasta hanging on the line. They had gluten free ravioli for $12.99 a pound. We passed. We’ve made homemade pasta before, but it is a pain. Still, I liked watching it hanging there.

We two flaneurs amble back to our car, driving home through rush hour,  but the traffic still isn’t TOO bad. We listen to a podcast. “The drive was only one This American Life long,” Brian says. He makes chicken and salad and pasta for dinner and I fold clothes. I run off to my book group and when I get home, he is sitting on the back deck in the semi-darkness,  looking at the trees and the sky above.  His hands are folded behind his head. He smiles at me, and in that smile I see a happiness formed of the possibility of a joyful anything to come.

Writing prompt: What possibilities do you see?

May is ___________ Month

8 May

IMG_5945Last spring I was wandering around Italy to visit my precious young one who was studying there, and one of the things that most fascinated me was the wonderful ways that women—and men—wore scarves. There seemed to be no end to the varieties of ways that they tied them. It reminded me of some of the young people I know, such as my beautiful niece Rachel, who seem to have a natural gift of knowing what to do with a scarf. So I decided, 2012 was going to be The Year of the Scarf. And, I must admit, my scarf collection has multipled mightily. I am still not overly adept at finding 30 ways to tie a scarf, but I will at least toss one on to add to an outfit. I don’t like fussing over clothes much, but I thought, well, I am a girl, so why waste it? We get to be senselessly decorative so why not.

Thinking about what scarf to wear into the city today brought me to thinking of how having the idea of calling 2012 The Year of the Scarf actually worked in getting me to focus more attention on scarves, and my appearance generally. Once I named it, it was, as many mindfulness experts say, “setting an intention.” Scientist Daniel Siegelman said on an interview on one of Brainsciencebroadcast.com that meditation is “setting an intention to pay attention.” That is a subject I’d like to return to. But what I’d like to focus on is: If 2012 was the Year of the Scarf, what will May, 2013, be the month of? I invite you to think of one small change you’d like to make—as trivial as wearing a scarf if you want—and try to do it every day for a month. I just finished a book called This Year I Will. . . and the author spoke of a Japanese word, keisen, which means tiny changes (or so she said). It could be flossing ONE tooth. It could be putting the keys in the same place. It could be promising yourself to make one social contact a day—even if it’s just a facebook notice or a three sentence email to make a plan with an old friend.

One idea I had for May was becoming more technically adept. But since I somehow lost my password for WordPress and had major difficulties making a new one, and already failed my first MOOC, I think I’d better ease into my technology goal a little more slowly. But there are still three weeks left! And they say 21 days are needed to develop a pattern. So why not think of one SMALL thing you’d like to change and do it for the rest of the month—and after that, keep it up or drop it, no harm, no foul.

I will share some ideas for May is _______ month, and I’d love to hear more.

  1. Make the bed month
  2. Eat breakfast at home month
  3. Wear sunscreen month
  4. Sing in the shower month
  5. Be on time month
  6. Put the keys in the right place month
  7. Throw one thing away a day month.
  8. Eat a salad before dinner month.
  9. Walk 20 minutes a day month.

10. Wear sensible shoes so you CAN walk month.

11. Clear the crap out of the closet month.

12. Email an old friend month.

13. Don’t put a banana in your pocketbook month.

14. Clean your sink month.

15. Write 30 haikus month.

16. Eat a piece of fruit a day month.

17. Dish out a free piece of advice every day this month.

18. Learn how to make soup month.

19. Stop trash-talking yourself month.

17. Talk like a pirate month. (why not, arggggh?)

Writing Prompt: So, as the beautiful month of May spreads out before us like a field of blooming buttercups, do you have any suggestions for what tiny change you’d like to make?

My day in 16,913 steps

25 Jan
The Big Apple (tanks to Wikimidia Commons)

The Big Apple (tanks to Wikimidia Commons)

After reading an article  about how people (okay, this one guy) overestimated the impact of planned exercise and underestimated the impact of exercise that is more or less part of your daily life when he got a FitBit, I decided to put his observation to the test. In the article, the author went on a highly-admirable daily three-and-a-half mile run. But he was shocked that this run only added up to 5000 plus steps—only about half of the much touted goal of 10,000 steps for good health, 12,000 for weight loss. I forget where this idea came from originally. But hey, I’m a 10,000 step girl and I have been for years—since my first pedometer. If I don’t walk at least 10,000 steps a day I feel somehow unclean and unworthy. So I have been trying to maximize stepping opportunities for years. Today wasn’t as typical as I thought it would be for several reasons. One that it was colder than the most vengeful thought in my cruel, cruel heart. And I underestimated one leg of my daily journey. But, since I have the evidence, I will share it to give an example of one possible way that a person could walk almost 17,000 steps or approximately 7 point something miles in a normal day.

7:30-8:00—get up, run around looking for stuff, making breakfast with toast and nutella, drivivng to physical therapy—up to 680 steps

8:00-10:00—physical therapy—seems somehat unfair that two straight hours of leglifts with weights etc and other exercises add so few steps, but I am up to 2000  steps.

10:00-2:30—transform steaming pile of loathesomeness  into magically brilliant chapter for writing group by tearing out hair, pounding head on table, eating more nutella, etc. 2,680 steps

2:30-2:50—pacing in icy cold for bus to NYC—3658 steps

3:15-3:30—walking to subway, pacing until it comes—4976 steps

4:00–walk from subway to Dr’s office—5515 steps

5:00-6:20 walking from City Hall to 25th and 9th avenue for writing group—big miscalculation as class started at 6:00. I was starving, thirsty, cranky. New York was dark and melancholy and I was ashamed of myself for being late one day after teacher begged class not to be rude by being late. I thought about an apple in my backpack, but apples are miserable to eat in the cold. Inside my coat, I was hot, but my face was as red as a stop sign from the whipping wind. Yellow taxis flowed by, and as I passed by 15th, 16th, 17th street I kept thinking, SURELY I’m closer than that. I passed by a 7-11 that had Triple Cheese pizza for a dollar and it made me sad. Why is the price of pizza going down? Will stores go out of business? Was $1.50 really so much to pay for a slice? And anyway, how do you measure the tripleness of cheese on pizza? And why do I not have the time to have a piece of pizza when I’m soooooo hungry?—13,740 steps.

6:30-8:00—Do the walk of shame into my writing group. Teacher hates my carefully polished gem, quite legitimately I can see (though of course she doesn’t know my long term plan which may make these sections make more sense.) In my pocket I find a semi-crushed Celebration Birthday Cake flavored Two Points bar that was given to me out of pity by a Weight Watchers lady when I was horrified by my results last weekend and made my resolve to attend the next WW weigh-in in a bikini. But I was so hungry that I sneak-ate every crumbly bit of this excrescence.

I decided that if I were going to make Zero Dark Thirty I wouldn’t bother with any of that stupid waterboarding. I’d just lock the bad guys up till their birthdays and say “Here’s your cake. Yeah that’s it buddy. That’s how you’re going to ‘celebrate.” That’s all the cake you’re going to get.” They’d crack in an instant. Mr. B and I went through a long stage of favoring the just 2-point bars, but somehow the corner turned and now they are in the category of Sad Foods, like the KFC chicken and gravy bowl (Really? You’re going to eat that out of a bowl? Corn and mashed potatoes aren’t supposed to touch until YOU make them touch. That’s the law.)  Also very sad is that salad in a cup thing that Macdonalds used to sell, so you could put it in your cup holder. And of course, Soup for One. That is probably the worse name for a product ever. They could just as well have called it “You Have No Friends AND you can’t have seconds.”

8:00-8:30—Walk miserably up to Port Authority in icy, icy weather. I am listening to whatever’s on shuffle on my ipod. It happens to be a meditation for pain, which is very appropriate, since I am muttering one swear after another to the indifferent cold. The lady says, “Feel your breath.” I think, FEEL it? Lady, I can SEE it.

The streets of Manhattan were even more melancholy on this dark cold night. Under neon signs, or the sights of restaurants full of laughing diners, you walk, nose and chin hunkered down in a scarf, past others in the same condition. Bikers wobble by with bags of food to deliver. Poor, poor delivery guys. I would get teary but the tears would freeze on my cheeks.

8:30-9:30. Finally, I get to Port Authority, wait in line for an eternity, and go home. Mr. B. serves me a warm, delicious, pasta dinner and good conversation. I take off my pedometer to recharge it. Enough walking for one day—16913 steps

September Statistics, Part 1

2 Oct

Statistic for September, 2012, part 1

–average steps walked per day: 8236

–pairs of shoes bought in size triple E: 1

–Number of workdays husband has said, upon arrival home, “I’m gettin’ out of this monkey suit.”: all

–days garden and its inferiority to last year’s garden was discussed at length: 30

— breakfasts with Julie at ChitChat diner: 1

–score on Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease from Better Medicine on internet: 44 percent. (Nota Bene: is this possible sign of Cretuzfeldt-Jakob disease?)

–Podcasts on Concordat of Worms listened to: 1

–Amount understood: 12 percent (I believe Europe and popes were mentioned?)

–times cat gave me pathetic looks to go outside:115

–Times I let him: 50

–Times I am supposed to let him go outside: 0

–acupuncture needles stuck in body: approximately 100

–shots of artificial synovial fluid in arthritic knee: 3 per knee

–book read for book group: Wild, by Cheryl Strayed

–number of children sent off to college: 2

–disease I do not have: multiple sclerosis

–times we’ve seen Jacob since then: 3 (bonus: last time with purple hair).

–What has happened to hometown in Jacob’s eyes now that he is at college: shrunk.

–What Santa is not bringing Jacob: tattoo.

–Toastmasters Tall Tale contests won: 2

–Person whose lovely presence will be missed: Marge Springer.

Prompt: And how was YOUR September?