3.1 miles trestle turn around 70 degrees humidity: 84%
Weird (almost) fall weather. Yesterday I had to wear so many more layers, today summer had returned. Humid and hot. Greeted the Daily Walker. Encountered other runners and walkers and bikers. No roller skiers on the path but I did see one on the street later when I took the dog for a walk. Listened to an audio book (Once Upon a River) and noticed the river and a spot in the tunnel of trees that opens up into an amphitheater of air–this spot is different than the one I tried to write about earlier in the summer. So spacious and airy and light–and still quite green. What color will it turn in the next month? Don’t remember noticing any non-green leaves. Today, with the sun so bright and warm, it’s hard to get excited about fall or winter. It feels like summer will never leave.
Reminded by someone on twitter of these great lines from Mary Oliver:
Sometimes/Mary Oliver (in Red Bird):
Instructions for living a life: Pay Attention. Be Astonished. Tell about it.
Mannequin of the Day:
There’s something about this mannequin’s face that makes me think she really doesn’t give a fuck. She doesn’t even care that a ribbon is covering her cheek. It’s the eyes, right?
Did a short run today in-between rain drops. It’s starting to look like fall. A few trees are losing leaves or turning red and yellow. Will there be bright orange this fall too? I hope so. In my 20s and 30s, I didn’t appreciate orange. Too bright or earthy or… orange. Green–darker, more muted–was my favorite. I still love green but I love orange now too. Is it because it was my mom’s favorite color? Maybe. I love bright oranges that glow unnaturally. And earthy, rusty oranges. It’s funny that I like orange now, when I can’t always see it because of my cone dystrophy. I’m thinking of getting some orange sneakers to wear this fall–not to run in, but just to wear and admire.
Right now I’m reading Ross Gay’s The Book of Delights and listening to podcast interviews with him and thinking about his ethics/politics/pedagogy of delight. So wonderful! Here’s one of his poems from a few years back:
—after Gwendolyn Brooks No matter the pull toward brink. No matter the florid, deep sleep awaits. There is a time for everything. Look, just this morning a vulture nodded his red, grizzled head at me, and I looked at him, admiring the sickle of his beak. Then the wind kicked up, and, after arranging that good suit of feathers he up and took off. Just like that. And to boot, there are, on this planet alone, something like two million naturally occurring sweet things, some with names so generous as to kick the steel from my knees: agave, persimmon, stick ball, the purple okra I bought for two bucks at the market. Think of that. The long night, the skeleton in the mirror, the man behind me on the bus taking notes, yeah, yeah. But look; my niece is running through a field calling my name. My neighbor sings like an angel and at the end of my block is a basketball court. I remember. My color’s green. I’m spring. —for Walter Aikens
“there are, on this planet alone, something like two/million naturally occurring sweet things,/some with names so generous as to kick/the steel from my knees…”
4 miles almost to franklin bridge turn around 54 degrees light rain
Ran in the rain. Just a light drizzle that I could barely feel. Nice. Listened to an audio book. Forgot to check if there were any stones stacked on the boulder. Looked for, but couldn’t find, the forest floor. Still too many leaves. Noticed a few changing colors, turning yellow. Thought I heard some cheering from the gorge. A rowing competition? Passed the Daily Walker, good morning-ed him on the way back. Worked on lifting my head, straightening my back. Saw a few squirrels, a dog, a roller skier, bikers, runners, walkers–lots of people out in the rain. Didn’t really see the river, only an occasional flash of white through the trees. I loved my run this morning.
Found this poem this morning while searching for the subject “september” on poets.org. Thinking about my mom and the 10th anniversary of her death at the end of this month. I deeply feel this profit and loss in my own grief and also the idea of not trying to assess it or to reconcile the feeling of loss with the unexpected joys it has brought–like a deeper appreciation of the woods or a football game or, in my case, the leaves in the gorge. The more I read this poem, the more I love it. Such a beautiful way to express the process of learning to live with grief.
Mannequin of the day:
Is the white in the middle of the pupil just because the paint is wearing off, or is it an artistic effort to indicate life/a spark/a soul within?
I find delight (reading Ross Gay’s wonderful, The Book of Delights, I’m trying to be better about claiming my own quirky delights) in this mannequin and her continued (and improbable) presence at the State Fair in a space barely touched by progress where the amateur is celebrated and beauty is never slicked up. Every year, walking into the creative activities building and seeing these cracked, faded, weathered mannequins still adorned in handmade hats and coats and scarves and sweaters, looking creepy and odd, I am delighted–and not in an ironic, hipster way. Here, the ugly and old and outdated have a space. I think I’m almost able to articulate this delight, but not quite. I’ll keep working at it. Something about how these mannequins represent resistance to the relentless need (by capitalism) to constantly change things to make them better! and newer! and prettier! and, in doing so, erase/remove/destroy those things which don’t fit their vision of better/newer/prettier. I love things that are ugly and overlooked and unsettling.
A great run! A cooler temp makes all the difference for me. What do I remember? Walking towards the river, listening to the electric hum of the bugs, the cawing of the crows, the rumble of the garbage truck. Seeing so many bright colors today–glowing yellowish green and orange shirts, aquamarine and hot pink shorts. Encountering a few roller skiers, a rollerblader, groups of runners, a water station set-up not too far from the overlook. Hearing the rowers on the river. Admiring the sparkling sun on the water, just barely cutting through the thick curtain of leaves.
Me trying to understand say whence say whither, say what, say me with a pencil walking, say reading the dictionary, say learning medieval Latin, reading Spengler, reading Whitehead, William James I loved him, swimming breaststroke and thinking for an hour, how did I get here? Or thinking in line, say the 69 streetcar or 68 or 67 Swissvale, that would take me elsewhere, me with a textbook reading the pre-Socratics, so badly written, whoever the author was, me on the floor of the lighted stacks sitting cross-legged, walking afterwards through the park or sometimes running across the bridges and up the hills, sitting down in our tiny diningroom, burning in a certain way, still burning.
I love the linking of thinking with moving here–swimming, walking, running.
Mannequin of the day:
I am always fascinated by the eyes in these mannequins–the little bit of white in the corner of the pupil and the curls veiling the one eye. The way her pupils are shifted up and to the side. What is she looking at? Is it my shoulder? One of the first things the ophthalmologist told me when I was diagnosed with cone dystrophy was that I’d need to learn to look just past people’s shoulders if I wanted to see their faces. Once my central vision was gone, I would only be able to see them through my peripheral. How unsettling is it to others to look at them this way? I do not look at people’s shoulders…yet. For now, I either avoid looking or I just stare into their dim, fading, dead-pupil faces and pretend that they don’t look like a lifeless mannequin.
swim: .9 miles (1600 yards) lake nokomis
Guess who got to swim in Lake Nokomis this afternoon? Me! When I got back from my run, I found out that the lake was open again (after being closed due to some kid pooping in the water and spreading e-coli and getting several dozens of other people sick…boo). I didn’t think I’d be able to swim in this lake again this year. Now I get to give a proper good-bye. Hopefully, I’ll be able to swim in it more times this week. With my wetsuit I’ll keep swimming until they won’t let me or there’s ice or I decide I”m over it. Open swimming is the best! The water was calm. Everything was a dull, light gray except for the trees on the other side. Already starting to turn slightly. Light green and yellow. After the swim, headed over to sandcastle with Scott for a beer and some fries. Does it get any better than this?
3.6 miles river road, north/lake st bridge/marshall hill/east river road, south/lake st bridge/river road, south 65 degrees
Was planning to swim today at Lake Harriet but it seems too cold. Maybe tomorrow? Ran instead. Decided to tackle a hill. Made it over to the St. Paul for the first time in a while. A few leaves are already changing color. Nice and cool, breezy without any sun. Feeling stronger in my runs. At the end, finally saw the Daily Walker again! Has it been a month since I saw him last?
Sharon Olds, from The Gold Cell
I am doing something I learned early to do, I am paying attention to small beauties, whatever I have–as if it were our duty to find things to love, to bind ourselves to this world.
Looked up uncanny valley and found this definition: “a distinctive dip in the relationship between human-likeness and emotional response.” What makes us human? Or, what makes us see each other as human, makes us feel empathy for each other? Is it the eyes? The pupils? The spark within that black ball?
I have trouble seeing people’s pupils. Can I ever see that spark? Do I imagine one? Sometimes everyone feels like a mannequin to me. Not quite human. Not alive or there. And sometimes mannequins feel human, like this girl.
What a great run! Love the cooler weather. Ran faster without more effort. Listened to a playlist while up above because I needed to forget the difficulty of getting a girl to go to school. Ran past the double bridge and the ford bridge, almost to the falls then turned around. Took off my headphones when I reached the turn for the lower trail. Heard kids on the playground up above, an occasional acorn dropping below, the almost gushing water at the second sewer pipe. Glanced at the river. No shimmers or sparkles only blue glass. Smiled at all the people I encountered. No roller skiers. No fat tires. No little old lady in a straw hat. A few dogs. Some squirrels above me, in the trees. No brilliant thoughts, but no worries either.
Thinking about faces and recognition and my inability to stare deeply into someone’s eyes and see anything but a blur or lifeless pupils. Found this poem:
First day of school. No drama this morning. A little sad to say goodbye to the summer, but happy for the fall. Ready for cooler, crisper air than what I got this morning. Still, a nice run. The sun was sparkling on the river. I’d like to start collecting descriptions of what the sun looks like as it shines on the water. I’m tired of sparkling or dancing or shimmering or glimmering. What other expressions can I find? Was surprised to not hear the water trickling out of one of the sewer pipes, especially after all the rain last night. The other one was almost gushing. The tree trunk is still leaning near the 38th street steps, with its yellow and pink yarn dangling down. The path wasn’t too muddy for my (too) bright white shoes. Don’t remember thinking much of anything except that I felt relaxed and happy to be out on the path on this beautiful day.
I’m excited about the new project I’m working on about my vision, eye contact, faces, and mannequins. A primary question guiding it is: What makes us human? Exploring how this is often understood in terms of seeing and connecting through faces/facial recognition. While thinking about it earlier this morning, I encountered this beautiful poem:
3 miles trestle turn around 64 degrees humidity: 85%
Back home. Last day before school starts for the kids. Heard the rowers on the river, geese traveling south above my head. Spotted a fat tire, a roller skier, several runners. No Daily Walker or man in black. Made sure to look at the river, but forgot to check out the floodplain forest. Noticed that there were no stones stacked on top of the ancient boulder. Smelled an over-filled porta potty. Whacked my elbow on a tree, running too close to it. As my vision declines, I have started to run into more things. Chanted in 3s: raspberry, blueberry, strawberry. Tried to think of other 3 syllable words as I ran: mystery, ambitious, remember, September, decadent, difficult. Tried to unsuccessfully remember the words to “try to remember”:
Try to remember the kind of September, When life was slow and oh so mellow. Try to remember the kind of September, When grass was green and grain was yellow. Try to remember the kind of September, When you were a tender and callow fellow. Try to remember, and if you remember, Then follow (follow) follow (follow) follow
My godfather sang this at my mom’s funeral almost 10 years ago. Will this month–her death month–be difficult this year?
Also attempted to recite Silverstein’s “Sick.” All I could remember was: “I cannot go to school today/said little Peggy Ann McKay/I have the measles and the mumps/a gash, a rash and purple bumps…”
Another run through Austin, this time in the opposite direction. Started with a few “hills.” Ran through a neighborhood without sidewalks. Don’t remember much–I do remember telling Scott a story and having trouble talking while running.