Sunday, January 31, 2016

in attendance

roscoe is all business

Sometimes it takes some serious wallowing and a good night's sleep to snap out of a funk and get shit done. It's also been a beautiful day here in Brooklyn. We had sunny skies and ran into almost all of our favorite park people on this morning's walk. Some days I walk through and begrudgingly speak to people, wishing for silence and getting annoyed with their idiosyncrasies. X person complains too much. Y person always asks huge open-ended "dad" questions that I've already answered three times. Q person gives our dog too many treats and never remembers to ask. So on and so forth. But today I disengaged with my internal crank and enjoyed the weather and the dogs. Focused on walking and watching and only half listened to the idle conversations happening around me. Then we cleaned and I set up my new film camera (more on that soon). Nothing exciting to report and no soapboxes to keep me writing, so here's the short form of crazy dog chases:

bend your knees as they
fly by*, ears flapping with wild
eyes and teeth flashing

* to prevent leg injuries in case of collision

picture: Roscoe: he eats gloves and teases me with his frisbee by nudging my leg and lunging away when I reach for it, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY, January 2016, digital 

Saturday, January 30, 2016


inside out

I went for a walk in the park this morning while Charrow did our usual Saturday long run. I thought it would be better than staying home and molding in the apartment, especially given the sunshine. I know it was the best choice, but it made me so cranky because I couldn't appreciate the activity. All those damn runners kept trotting past me, and it was all I could do to resist the urge to pick up speed. I'm sure at some point there will be circumstances that make walking my only option, but right now it feels like watching a movie in slow motion. Be where you are, observe the moment, blah blah blah. Easier said than done when it feels like less of a choice. But I did my best. Listened to This American Life and watched the birds, silently critiqued runners' forms and imagined little things about the people around me or daydreamed about things in my own life. I'm happy to have been outside on a beautiful day (although dressing for walking is different than dressing for running and I was cold the whole time), but I still feel mentally itchy, sluggish, and mopey. And now, a short version of the exact same thing I've been whining about all week (I promise I will write about something else tomorrow):

sometimes the hardest
thing to do is wait until
you can run again


patches of muddy
ground show through the snowy crust
watch out for the poop!*

*because sometimes the dog poops sinks below the surface of the snow, and you just can't find it before your hand gets too cold. I also think people become lazier in bad weather, so whenever there's a big snow melt, there are little sodden logs of poo all over the sidewalks.

picture: another view from the listening tower at Teufelsberg, Berlin, Germany, September 2010, film, Canon Tlb 

Friday, January 29, 2016

scattered and fried

extreme lap dog

Well, I am sufficiently toasted, and I don't mean the fun kind that involves bubbly drinks. I just mean effing tired. In an effort to get even closer to my bed, I'm going to keep this short with a snippet from my commute because that's the most accessible experience from today, and it's vaguely more interesting than writing about dinner or watching the end of Sneakers. Although I did realize that Robert Redford and Brad Pitt sound almost identical if you close your eyes and listen. Breaking news! Okay, enough with the nonsense. It's time for the real nonsense:

when the doors clatter
open it's like a scatter
drill from marching band

picture: one of my good friends and her naughty cattle dog who likes to lay all over her and chew on her neck, Bluemont, VA, August 2010, digital 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

going nowhere

going up?

What a ridiculous day it's been. Here's a little taste, complete with run-on sentences: A friend from work has a second job in a private practice, which used to be located in the same office as our clinic (it's complicated). The private practice recently moved to a building down the block. Convenient for our friendship! But our usual in-between-clients merriment (or venting) now involves a commute. We hung out in her new space during a 35 minute lull, and I saved about 10 minutes for transportation time. It's literally 1/3 of the way down the block, so a 4 minute walk at most and then 2 elevator rides, both coincidentally to/from the 8th floor. No big deal, right? Until the elevator takes 4 minutes to arrive because only 1 of them is working, and then it goes up instead of down, and then on the way down it stops at every floor. In lieu of cursing the whole ride down or continuing to panic, I got out at the 7th floor and ran down 7 flights of stairs. Then I ran over to the clinic building and nearly cheered out loud when the elevator came almost immediately because it is notoriously slow. Running, by the way, was a huge mistake. The pain I experienced confirms that my busted tailbone is very much still busted. Lucky for me this same friend also has a sensitive rear and let me borrow her "infinity cushion" aka donut until my very own donut arrives in the mail. Ah the joys of butt pain. And now for the short form:

waiting for my ride
tick tock is all i hear til
ding! on every floor

picture: the doors to the elevator shaft on one of the abandoned listening towers at Teufelsburg, outside of Berlin, Germany, September 2010, film, Canon Tlb 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

baby steps

he suffers from too much attention

I went to the dentist today. Haven't said that in about 5 years. Maybe 6. For reasons that involve visceral memories of sitting in a chair in an open cubicle office system with a military dentist pulling teeth out of my mouth. I also have horribly cavity prone teeth no matter WHAT I do so going to the dentist has always meant work. I'm not talking about some minor discomfort while the hygenists flosses the crap out of your gums or the sting of being poked in with the hook instrument. I mean metal whirring, grinding, scraping, packing, extra shots of novocaine kind of work. It's not pretty and it's makes me nauseated just writing about it. But I've had some major tooth aches in the last month or so, and I've had trouble chewing on one tooth for about two years (yes, I know, things don't magically get better if you avoid them). One of my dog friends told me about this guy called the "Jazz Dentist" who utilizes compassionate dentistry, which from what I can tell is a nice way of saying he knows people are scared shitless of him and worry that he's going to rip them off, so he supplies the latest in happy drugs and doesn't suggest work that isn't absolutely necessary. I say: give me the drugs. As it turns out, after having a thousand little x-ray plates shoved in various parts of my mouth, I have a cracked tooth thanks to said military dentists and their use of mercury fillings (or "amalgams" as the dentist dictated to his assistant - I loved this for reasons I can't quite explain. my mouth is FULL of amalgams). I have another mercury filling that needs to be replaced. On the plus side, there are no new cavities or an infection, which was my major concern. I forced myself to make the appointment to deal with the cracked tooth before I left the office. Success! Now that you have my dental health status that you didn't ask for, here's the short take:

open, now bite, now
stick out your tongue and say ah
now, wait! come back here!

picture: my friend's dog Simon, who always looks mildly worried, Bluemont, VA, January 2009, digital 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

walk this way


I have the exercise memory of a goldfish. Worse: a gnat. I don't really know what kind of memory gnats even have, but if it's anything like their purported attention spans, then it's an accurate comparison. All of that to say, I am feeling antsy and annoyed at my current running moratorium thanks to my fancy free decision from yesterday. I went for a walk to our food coop this morning to get some fresh air and every step hurt, especially ones that involved any quick movements (e.g., trying to avoid giant ankle-sucking pools of brown slush). So it doesn't look there will be any running in my immediate future. As I've been told by several people, this will get better (thanks for the reminders). I just have to avoid driving Charrow crazy in the meantime with the whining and the constant favors (bending over to pick things up causes the most discomfort, even when done with proper form). It already feels like I haven't run in weeks, which is ridiculous because it's been 3 DAYS. Apparently I live in an exercise time warp. Here's a short take on what it's like to go through the subway system when you're in pain, but there's nothing apparently wrong with your body. People get so huffy! And I'm often one of them. oops.

i want to carry
a sign that says don't assume
you know why i'm slow*

*this is something I am guilty of all the time: seeing someone ambling for no apparent reason and assuming they are self-centered assholes when in fact I have absolutely no idea what they might be dealing with.

picture: view from an S-Bahn platform, Berlin, Germany, October 2010, film, Canon Tlb 

Monday, January 25, 2016

we all fall down

popular place

This morning I saw an older gentleman scrounging through the leftover sled bits piled at the top of a popular hill in Prospect Park. He found a decent sized scrap and proceeded to ride down the hill like a kid. It looked like a lot of fun, so I tromped up there and found my own scrap. As I readied myself to sit down on the sled, my feet flew out from under me, and I landed on my tailbone. HARD. And now it hurts like it's never hurt before. Sitting. Standing. Walking up stairs. Down stairs. Bending over. Forget crossing my legs. So yeah, we ran 6 miles in a blizzard without falling, but I tried to slide down a hill and jacked up my rear. Good times. Against my better judgment, I went down the hill anyway! because I couldn't help myself. The dog was not pleased by my decision. He stopped scavenging for food long enough to run after me looking confused and alarmed by my new way of walking. I rode down about three times (I know, I know, piling on the bad decisions) and then hobbled home over the uneven mounds of snow. Thankfully, there were some well worn paths made by all the skiers and fellow dog owners. That cut down on the amount of uneven surfaces I had to navigate.

Towards the beginning of our walk (pre-incident), I noticed what I thought was my contacts fogging up, much the way your glasses do when open the oven door or come in from the cold. I was trying to puzzle through whether it's even possible for contacts to fog up when I realized I was seeing steam rising from the snow evaporating. Surreal. And now for today's haiku:

in good health, we push
limits, but in sickness* they
feel like cattle prods

*i wanted to say something with the word "injury" but didn't have room for 3 syllables or the patience to fiddle with it until it worked out

picture: the hill upon which I nearly (possibly?) broke my butt, as seen this weekend teeming with children, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY, digital 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

snow blind

snow plough

The snow has stopped, and all is right in Red's world again... until tomorrow when it's officially bootie season (salt burns his feet to the point of limping). We took him for a two hour walk in the park this morning, because that's how long it took to walk our short route through two feet of snow. What a slog, but it was sunny and relatively warm. The dog has been a snoring lump since we got back, and I've been in a trip planning fugue. To the point of almost forgetting to write my silly haiku for the day. So here's today's exercise in commitment along with a few more pictures from the park.

we squeaked and crunched through
fields of white dotted with dogs
beware the sledders!

(because they were definitely not concerned about running us over)

to the park we go

no brakes!


Saturday, January 23, 2016

white out

Remember how I used the word allegedly when referring to that snow? There's no doubt about it now. The sky has been white since we woke up to about 6 inches of snow, which I'm guessing is now somewhere around 26 inches. Cars are useless white mounds and the streets are (or were, before nightfall) dotted with dark blobs that slowly transform into parents pulling their children in sleds or people walking with shopping bags or fellow dog owners forced outdoors by the call of doodie. We tried to take Red to the park this morning, but he curled his lower lip and hunched over as the snow pelted his face. It was pathetic, so we took him home.

I decided it would be fun to walk to the park anyway, so we left Red in his favorite place (the crate with a fresh peanut butter kong), and trudged back out to see what we could see. There were more people out than I expected, and there were plenty of dogs romping in the snow. We even saw runners tip toeing around the drive in the park. Neither of us expected that. but... Challenge accepted! So we went home to change into running gear (think gaiters and 3 of just about everything) and joined the ranks of fools on foot. We made it about 6 miles along the various loops of Prospect Park. The first 5 were pretty fun, minus a seriously painful windy stretch near the ball fields. I stopped to take a zillion pictures, people were skiing, sledding, running, walking, flopping around, etc. But by the last mile, the snow had really started to fill in because it was coming down so hard. It was like running along the edge of the beach where the packed sand gives just enough to make all your leg muscles work twice as hard. Manageable, but the novelty had definitely worn off.

The rest of the day involved a hodgepodge of resting, more walking in the snow (much to the dog's chagrin), and watching movies. I'm thankful that we don't have any pressing needs, and we can basically continue on as shiftless travel-planning blobs until Monday when we have to figure out whether we're going to work. I assume the trains will be running by then, but it's still snowing, so who knows! In the meantime, here's a short take:

woke to howling wind,
sipped coffee as the snow swirled,
who's ready to run?

top picture: a slice of the activity we saw this morning in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY, iPhone 5 
middle picture: a very unhappy Red willing me to take him, Brooklyn, NY, iPhone 5
bottom picture: charrow about 1/3 of the way through our expedition, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY, iPhone 5

Friday, January 22, 2016

hurry up and wait

park slope kitsch

Well, the sidewalks are covered in salt and people have swarmed the grocery stores, or so I've been told because I avoided the madness. We had dinner with our downstairs friend, which makes two nights a row of socializing. That's basically my quota for the month, so I'm going to get straight to the haiku about this evenings commute, and then it's faceplant city (aka crazy friday night bed time).

she strolled downstairs hunched
over her phone playing games*
i almost kicked her

*really it was 1 game, but pluralizing is a trick to cut out the syllable for the article. instead of kicking her, I said "seriously" in my supremely pissy tone because she was taking up half the staircase in the middle of Friday evening rush hour. Fine, be a phone zombie and enjoy yourself, but MOVE OVER.

picture: stairs of a brownstone somewhere in Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY, summer 2012, film, Canon Tlb 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

tee time

thai eggplant

The previously mentioned dinner guests should be here in about 15 minutes, so let's see what I can manage in that amount of time. We are allegedly getting a lot of snow this weekend, and there are infographics circulating the intertubes depicting how many of whatever BS item people should buy in a given region. Call me a teetotaler, but I do not understand the whole it's going to snow, let's go buy 5 bottles of wine, a case of beer and pork rinds! or whatever. This one is a little more my speed (as seen on the Central Rappahannock Regional Library facebook page, so it's not for New York, but it should be!):

and now for the completely unrelated short version of the dog helping us clean for our guests:

snout glued to the ground
as he compulsively licks
squished sweet potato

picture: a thai eggplant, which was NOT in dinner, because I am allergic to eggplant, February 2008, digital 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

january morning

Well, I'm definitely less grumpy, but I don't have very much time before I need to get into bed to prevent tomorrow's grumpiness. Especially since we are having dinner guests tomorrow, and the apartment has a few days' worth of "who has time or energy to put THAT away" stuff. So here's a snippet from our walk in the park this morning. I tend to groan to myself as I'm pulling on layer upon layer of warm clothes, but park days are always better days, even in January.

over glinting snow
patches we walked while birds chirped
like creaky porch swings

(it's easy to get into list cadence with haikus. not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing or just is. luckily, it's my party and I can list if I want to (although this one is less list-y than usual))

picture: near the end of the long meadow in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY, this morning, iPhone 5

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


great volvo

Note to self: write blog post before starting tedious campervan rental research. Good grief. I'm too cranky for public consumption. Here's the short take for today:

the cats sit staring,
willing me to give up and
bring them their dinner

picture: an old volvo seen on the streets of Copenhagen, Denmark, September 2010, cross-process slide film, Canon Tlb 

Monday, January 18, 2016

show up


Well, I'm home from the funeral marathon. Three different events across three days, which was a lot for me, so I can't even imagine how the immediate family must feel. The services were all in Ukranian, so I spent a lot of time watching the attendees and trying to catch the emotion of what was being said, but I had little clue as to what was actually happening. It's more about showing up than understanding the language. Today's service took place in a beautiful Ukrainian church that is built out of wood without the use of nails (so I've been told - I'm skeptical). At any rate, it's amazing, and oh so effing cold. My feet STILL haven't warmed up from sitting there for 90 minutes listening to the singing and watching the priest toss around burning ashes in a ceremonial metal holder that I'm sure has a name. The light in the church is incredible. There are small windows towards the ceiling that let in huge diagonal streams of light. Sadly, the light wasn't enough to keep anyone warm.

Now back to life on animal planet in which the cats roam around while the dog is gone and then he comes barging in the door from his evening walk yodeling because the orange cat didn't scramble out of the kitchen quite fast enough. And now for the short form:

cold toes and running
noses, crumpled tissues and
questions of what's next

picture: headstones at Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY, fall 2011, film, Canon Tlb 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

white rain

here we are

Death always seems like a horrible practical joke. Like the deceased will burst out of a closet and yell GOTCHA. There's something so unbelievable about it; something that just doesn't compute. But it's real, and it doesn't matter whether you can make sense of it. Shit happens anyway. We're headed to the wake in a few minutes, so in the interest of time, here's the short version of today so far:

sky thick with flurries
until the sun came along
and made the trees shine

...a little cheese to go with the grilled cheese sandwich I plan to have for dinner (suburban gourmet).

picture: a snowy walk through the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn, NY, January 2011, film, Ricoh  rangefinder 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

in short

marathon goggles

it's been many hours
since I silenced my alarm
to run with the sun

picture: a double (possibly triple) exposure taken while running the Philadelphia Marathon, November 2011, film, Holga camera

Friday, January 15, 2016

where's my pillow

fat cat + piles of laundry = nap

This day started with a fool's errand to the post office in which I failed to check the open hours thus arriving 20 minutes before it opened. It ended with a sink load of dishes and cat puke on the living room rug. There were many things in between, one of which included running into a friend walking hand in hand out of the grocery store with our mutual friend's daughter. I love this small town feature of Brooklyn. Thankfully there are only a handful of people I dread running into, and unless I unexpectedly come face to face with said dreaded persons, I can cross the street to continue in stealth mode. Parked cars and a general state of distraction aid and abet my hermit tendencies. Tonight I relished the encounter, and it was difficult to decline my three year old friend's invitation to go on a ginger ale search for her under the weather parent. Sadly, I had to feed myself or risk a serious melt down and then I had to prep for my trip down to VA to attend the funeral services for my sister-in-law's father. Wild Friday night plans in every direction. And now that I've checked the last box on my to do list for the day, I'm going to crawl into bed and get comfortable before the cats make it impossible to turn over. Charrow is visiting her parents for the weekend, and you would think that might mean more room in the bed. Whoever thinks that clearly does not own pets (or doesn't allow them on the bed, which is cold, I tell you. cold.). And now a haiku about what it's like to fold laundry with cats (or the dog, but he's not home right now).

walk away from piles
of fresh laundry, return to
a slumber party

(too many prepositions, but I'm not fixing it)

picture: the fatter, bossier of our two cats curled up on my dresser in an old apartment, Brooklyn, NY, July 2009, digital 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

look up

tybee island sunset

On the train ride home, I happened to look up from writing reminders on my phone just in time to catch a blazing pink band of light across the horizon behind the statue of liberty. It was so incredible that I wanted to tell the people around me to look up. No one seemed to notice! One person moved closer to the window, and I wanted to shout "I know!" when her jaw dropped at the sight. And then the buildings on the Brooklyn side of the East River blocked the view, plunging me back into a regular old train ride on a cold January Thursday. This solidifies my status as a cheesehead (along with the hundreds of sunset pictures available on my Instagram feed). I can't help it. How can an event that happens every single day be so different? I guess a lot of things are like that, but the differences are harder to notice or maybe not deemed worthy of noting. And yes, logically I know it's not the same every day because of all the parameters blah blah blah. But it gets me every damn time.

gawking at that tree,
oohing over that sunset,
i can't get enough


there it goes again
keeping time and setting fire
to my hearts desire - JUST KIDDING. it rhymed and it's oh so painful. now for the real one...


there it goes again
keeping time and setting fire
to the fading light

(might not be any "better" but it hurts less)

picture: sunset on Tybee Island, Savannah, GA, September 2008, digital 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

naval gazing

brazilian clothes dryer

I'm tending to the animal farm alone this evening. You wouldn't think feeding two cats, walking a dog, and doing the dishes would take all that long, but it adds up. It's nights like this when I wonder why push the streak? Why not just finish that episode of friday night lights (for the second time), muddle through the necessities, and go to bed? You might be wondering the same thing given the high quality of this writing! There's something energizing and challenging about doing something for a month. It's uncomfortable, and it requires sacrifice, but the end is within spitting distance. Committing to something for a year requires more endurance and reliance on muscle memory, much like all those marathons we've run. It also requires fighting off the who-really-cares-about-this and the what-good-is-this-anyway feeling and all the other doubts that come along with doing a thing without being able to hold the benefits in your hand. I can totally see why people give up on all kinds of goals. Lucky for me, I'm too stubborn and compulsive, which is not to say I'm above giving up (and sometimes quitting is necessary). But for now, I'm still sending this jumble of words out there. Here's a short version of our walk this morning:

piles of steaming mulch
that smelled of earthy citrus almost
made up for cold toes

picture: the dog house slash laundry line for the caretakers of our jungle house airbnb, Ilha Grande, Brazil, September 2009, cross-processed slide film, Agfa Optima (can you spot the sleeping dog?) 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

hot wheels


I feel like surprises are a sublimation of lying. It takes so much deception to pull off a surprise! As the last part of charrow's birthday, I presented her with a new bike (this in chrome) that her parents asked me to procure for her. As a result, I've told many fibs over the last couple of weeks. I even went so far as to deflate her back tire to fake a flat tire to get her into the bike shop. Nothing like using my evil powers for good. And now for something a little shorter:

would you like some red
herring with your dinner and
a piece of fib pie?

picture: irresistible napping store dog at hudson urban bicycles (currently closed for business), New York, NY, summer 2011, cross-processed slide film, Canon Tlb 

Monday, January 11, 2016

another candle on the cake

i laugh at your face

It's Charrow's birthday, so we went out for dinner at Momo Sushi Shack. We had to practice some serious restraint to not order the world (small plates). Just walked in the door from taking the dog around the block for his evening sniffs and leg lifts. In light of the hour, here is a short version of my commute home from dinner:

sometimes you just have
to part the sea of amblers
with a stiff elbow*

*and a sorry-not-sorry apology because they were dawdling in front of the staircase, and I could see my train arriving on the platform

picture: a cheeky horse at the barn where my mom boards her horse, Californa, MD, September 2010, digital 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

off to the races

top of pico do papagaio

It's been a soggy gray day with the exception of a jesus-light moment near sundown, complete with a golden-edged clouds giving way to a patch of blue sky. I took the craptastic weather as an opportunity for guilt-free internet time researching for our trip to the other side of the world. After much avoidance and ambivalence, we finally bought tickets to Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand. I went into manic planning mode, which consists of opening a flurry of tabs in my browser and zipping from this national park to that map to that blog about hiking to that other blog about hiking, to calculating this driving distance, and so on. On multiple occasions my computer slowed to glacial speeds, and I had to restart it. Yet another sign of its impending demise, but I refuse to upgrade for the time being (knock on wood - nothing like having that decision made for you). I also refuse to check our baggage, if at all possible, so we are obsessing about how to bring camping gear and minimal clothing (for maximum pigpen potential) while working within the 15lb airline constraints. Charrow had the half-serious, but bright idea to wear multiple layers of clothing through security to cut down on our bag weight. Then I had the following mental picture of going through the x-ray machine:

TSA agent: is there anything in your pockets ma'am (because they must gender you no matter what)
Me: no, sir (gender them back pointedly), but I'm wearing 11 pairs of underwear

And then we lost our shit laughing at the idea. This is why we work. There can be testiness and button pushing, but inevitably there is something ridiculous that sends us into a laughing fit and makes the hostility dissolve much faster than it would without the levity. And now for our short form portion of the show:

the wind howls outside
as we snort and gasp for air
all is forgiven

picture: an unfortunately cloudy view of Pico de Papagaio, or Parrot's Peak (check out the link for views of what we could have seen), the second highest peak on Ilha Grande, Brazil, September 2009, cross-processed slide film, Agfa Optima 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

escape hatch

sweaty squash

What do you do when reality is a bit much? Go to the movies! After our usual schedule of dogwalking, running and compost errands, we went to see the new Star Wars movie at BAM's Harvey Theater. The seats are bolt upright and there's no legroom, which is not good for stiff running legs, but it was definitely more spectacular than a regular movie outing. I'm not into academically critiquing movies, especially one as chewed over as Star Wars, so here's a very short piece of commentary:

suspend disbelief
for droids and unscathed heroes
but when do they eat??

How do they have all that energy for wielding light sabers and heavy machinery when the main characters don't eat a crumb? Wait, I take it back. There is the scene where Rae gets her rations and makes the crazy loaf porridge combo. But still! No sleep. A few drops of water at the beginning. Mundanities that slow down steamroller productions, I know, I'm being a spoilsport. All in all, it was highly enjoyable.

picture: an acorn squash, two apartments ago?, Brooklyn, NY, August 2010, digital 

Friday, January 8, 2016

the D word

small house of god

Feeling a little lost for words this evening. It's Friday (or as I like to call it fried-day because by Friday night, the synapses are firing a little slower and the dark circles are a little bit bigger). Someone in my family died today. Well, really last night, but he wasn't discovered until this afternoon after not responding to phone calls. I have an acquaintance who lost his partner of 10 years to a sudden medical event (a few months ago). I have another friend who's navigating the simultaneous and sudden decline in both of her parents' health. As I think about it, I realize this list could go on for quite awhile. It's crazy how so much gloom can coexist with so much beauty, but such is the way of opposing forces. I can feel the cliches and platitudes right around the corner, so it's best to just get to the completely unrelated haiku. I tried to come up with something more poignant, but I'm giving up and calling it a day. 

is she trying to 
squash a bug between her teeth? 
no, she's chewing gum 

picture: a village church on Ilha Grande, an island off the coast of Rio, Brazil, September 2012, cross-processed film, Agfa Optima  

Thursday, January 7, 2016

circling the runway

wondering why she agreed to this

All of my writing/thinking time has been consumed by trip planning today, so keep those expectations nice and low. We're trying to cobble together a trip to Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania, which we've been thinking about for months, but neither of us can manage to fight our various anxieties to buy the plane tickets (charrow = money, mine = flying over the ocean for hours on end). BUT neither of these fears is likely to go away in the years to come and we have no way of knowing other factors (family health being of primary concern). Charrow is always worried about money, and I can't foresee a time when flying 15 hours over open water is going to make me warm and fuzzy. May as well go now while there are no other creatures to care for.

Unrelated: tonight we couldn't get a mason jar lid off (just the top, not the ring closure), and it suddenly occurred to me that the bottle opener lip of the can opener might work better than trying to poke a knife underneath an impossibly tight seal. It popped open with no effort whatsoever. Can I tell you how many times I've hurt my fingernails trying to accomplish the same feat? How did that not occur to me sooner? Ever have those moments when you realize the simple solution has been sitting in the drawer right in front of you? And now in short form:

poke and pry in vain
trying everything until
pop! goes the brain cells

picture: Charrow on our hike up a short stretch of the Buckeye Trail off the PCH, northern CA, June 2014, film, Canon Tlb 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

cold feet

giant begonia

I took the dog to the park this morning and we were met with a field of frost. Sad times for all the flowering plants that have been hanging on past their prime. It was also a sad time for my toes because I can't bring myself to wear the comically large arctic expedition boots that charrow bought herself to combat poor circulation in her feet. Winter makes me whiny. Just wait until it snows! I will have to rename the blog to gripes & snipes. For now I leave you with this slightly more optimistic combination of words: 

the begonias have 
flopped, crab apples hang shriveled, 
but the birds still sing 

top picture: a gigantic begonia grown by a friend's mother, Hartland, VT, June 2014, film, Canon Tlb 

bottom picture: Red sitting patiently for me to take 1 of 70 pictures on our morning walk, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY, today, iphone 5s

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

who turned off the heat

you can't see me

Well, the weather is frigid. This morning during our run the temperature was 16 degrees F and the "real feel" was a whopping -4. Thankfully, we have enough fancy running gear to populate a small athletic store, so I layered up and actually felt a little overdressed. Running in that temperature range is like trying to sprint in ankle deep sand. Nothing moves quickly and breathing is difficult, but I will take those challenges over a gym any day (and for as many days as I can avoid it seeing as I don't have any health problems that prohibit outlandish running conditions). Birds chirped and flitted about. A woman jumped around like an orangutan goading her dog to play. Prospect Park lake sparkled like a disco ball and sported little dark lumps that turned out to be floating birds. The sky was bright enough to cast shadows. So what if my sweat froze to my face?? And now for a short version of our afternoon walk with the dog:

he pulls me over
with glee and the steam rises
from the christmas tree

picture: my mom's cat hiding in a pile of clothes back when she was a little fluffball, California, MD, October 2010, digital 

Monday, January 4, 2016

move it or lose it

that was quite a hill

Yesterday was a strange day. Our dog walker asked if she could steal Red for an overnight adventure with her dogs on Saturday, so we were sans canine until 8pm last night. Over 24 hours without the seat stealer. I'm aware of how much structure the dog adds to our days, but it's even more obvious when he's gone. I didn't leave the house before lunch, which made me feel cagey and lazy. This of course makes no sense because we ran 10.7 miles the day before and spent nearly the entire day on our feet. But my brain has a pretty strong reset button for physical activity. More than an hour on my butt, and I suddenly feel like I've done nothing for days. Anyway, there was no real excuse to leave the house again after I had run my piddly afternoon errand, so I didn't go out again until about 5:45 when we went to a friend's house for dinner. The cats were living the dream, soaking up the sun spots they don't have access to when the dog is around, but I felt inexplicably cranky. Well, not inexplicably. I knew what was happening and also knew that I had a serious case of the Sundays. Clearly I should have taken myself for a walk! And now a bit of short form for the day. It has nothing to do with the dog because I came up blank on that front and it's almost past my bedtime. Instead, I bring you my experience of getting stuck behind a man who clearly did not know that my hanger could maim him with its pinky finger because he made me miss my train by about two seconds:

lumbering slowly*
down the stairs, the only soul
fucking move over

*a few minutes later: I've realized that this is redundant because lumbering is by definition slow, but I'm trying really (really) hard not to get uptight about this whole haiku thing. Could they be better? Always. Am I going to go back and "fix" them? No. Do I feel compelled to point out the pitfalls so you don't think I've missed them? Apparently.

picture: Red basking in the glory of the Hudson River (or panting because we just walked up a doozy of a hill in 85 degree heat), summer 2015, near Howell Ridge, upstate NY, cross-processed slide film, Canon Tlb 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

a matter of taste

giraffes need coffee too

According to my doctor, whom I can no longer see because our insurance company went out of business and she doesn't take our new insurance (not bitter), I should only drink decaf coffee or preferably none at all. There's some reflux/swallowing situation and a persnickety stomach that she thinks would be better served without the extra acidity and irritation of caffeine. I refused to comply for awhile on the basis that I barely drink coffee compared to most people - 8 oz a day with breakfast. Then I tried half-caff with little noticeable improvement. So I finally gave up and went full decaf during the week and had "real" coffee on the weekends because I just can't bring myself to drink decaf all the time. It's not about the caffeine. I noticed no difference in functioning or energy level, and I get irritated when people whine about how they need caffeine when what they really need is sleep and water (Self-righteous, party of one). If they made decaf that tasted the way the other coffee we drink tastes, I would happily switch over. The problem is I LOVE the coffee we drink. My partner has worked in specialty coffee (think non-starbucks/smaller companies with high quality beans roasted at a medium profile and respectable sourcing ethics) for over ten years. I worked in a specialty shop for about 3.5 years. I have developed a serious weakness for fancy coffee (and a disdain for people who drink corner store motor fuel just to get their fix, sorry to any fiending readers willing to drink anything). Coffee is also a part of my morning trifecta of happiness, which involves a breakfast that I've been obsessed with for about 5 years (the exact same breakfast every day, if at all humanly possibly) and reading a book while I eat.

When I went on my summer music pilgrimage, I switched to regular coffee for the purposes of sharing the excess from my french press (just try sharing decaf and see how many scornful looks and wrinkled noses come your way). I planned on sharing for two reasons: I knew from experience that people were going to scoff at my coffee-making paraphernalia (hand grinder, scale) so sharing was a way to reduce the mockery, and it was a damn good excuse to not drink decaf. Ever since the trip, I've had difficulty making the switch back to my ascetic decaf ways, which causes guilt and reflux. I worry that I'm causing permanent damage or somehow creating the conditions for the dreaded C word by damaging tissues or whatever. This is the problem with health-related decisions. They all involve what are called "intertemporal choices," which is when the choice you make now will affect the possibilities available later. Put another way, it's the choice between the cost/benefit of something now vs. the cost/benefit of something in the future. Like going to bed. The perceived cost of turning off that movie now outweighs the future benefit of feeling rested in the morning. Or drinking less alcohol. The perceived benefit of having that last beer vs the future cost of being more hung over. Or the perceived cost of drinking decaf vs. the benefit of better digestive health. Blah blah blah. Basically I'm feeling whiny and guilty and irritated that I have a sensitive body when other people treat theirs like complete shit and don't appear to suffer any consequences. Moving on to our short form for the day:

measured and consumed
with care, I can't give up the
highlight of my day

picture: the window of a coffeeshop whose name I can't remember, NYC, August 2011, film, Canon Tlb 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

curry in a hurry

99 gallons

It's been a pinball kind of day where we bounced from place to place. It felt relentless even though it involved enjoyable and chosen activities, one of which was to visit friends in Jersey City, which has pushed my posting time beyond the limits of my ability to edit sentences. Anyway, here are two bits of today in short form, composed on the 2 train while fighting the urge to give up and read my book:

webs spin from the sun
light catching twigs as we walk
through the woods again


brooklyn to jersey
for donkey kong and curry
it's worth the reflux

picture: an old gas pump at the farm implement store that my grandfather worked for before he died, Oxford, NC, September 2013, film, Canon Tlb 

Friday, January 1, 2016

peer pressure


New Years makes me grumpy. Maybe it's the loss of sleep (we didn't even stay up until midnight!) or the excessive amounts of homemade pizza I ate or the annoying amount of trash in the park leftover from fireworks or the champagne bottles discarded by people who attended said fireworks. Could also be the gray cold day. Or the pressure to make New Year's Eve special, which ultimately ends with disappointment. My partner is really good at letting go of that pressure to crank up the volume on NYE, but I'm not quite there. Objectively, we had a very laid back and enjoyable time with friends' making the aforementioned pizza with their 3-year-old. We walked there. We didn't have to get dressed up or yell over loud music or pretend to give a sh*t about making conversation with people we barely know. Subjectively, I went to bed at 11:15 feeling lame even though I detest the kinds of activities deemed "exciting" by most people's standards. Yet another instance where I really need to choose my choice. Today, despite my crankiness, has been nice enough. How can I complain when I got to read a book and attend to some much needed house cleaning? Why get all fussy about a night that amounts to a cultural phenomenon? Need to work on this. In the meantime, here is the last hour in short form:

with tired burning eyes
and heavy lids, I read while
cats lounge on my limbs