jan 20/BIKERUN

bike: 24 minutes
run: 1.3 miles
basement

Finally, it’s over! Already, Biden and Harris are working to undo some of the damage. What an awful, exhausting, traumatic 4 years. Yet, some good too, in spite of it all: a renewed faith in democracy, the chance for an actual reckoning with slavery and racism, and, most personally, a rediscovery of poetry and a new direction for my work on a feminist ethics of care. I started this running log in January of 2017, right as Trump was becoming president. There were many reasons I started writing here, but the urgent need to find a new way to be in the Trump era was surely one of them. In ways that I can’t yet articulate, this blog and my project of paying attention and of finding the small moments of delight–always letting the wonder win, as Aimee Nezhukumatathil says–was a form of resistance, a refusal to lose my faith in the world and my hope for the future. I must admit, it got much harder to resist these last few months, but the habits I built up from my miles and my words (and the beautiful words of many others), have helped me to persist and I know they will help me as I work hard to rid myself of all of the Trump-era toxins I’ve had to absorb. Does this sound too dramatic? Maybe, but today feels like a day for being dramatic!

I didn’t think about any of these things as I biked or ran. I just enjoyed moving and feeling free, even if it was in my dark unfinished basement.

Hooray for new administrations! Hooray for hope and possibility and room to breathe and grieve and imagine better worlds! Hooray for a renewed desire to do the work! And hooray for this beautiful poem by Amanda Gorman:

The Hill We Climb/ Amanda Gorman

When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry. A sea we must wade.
We braved the belly of the beast.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace, and the norms and notions of what “just” is isn’t always justice.
And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.
We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.
And, yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge our union with purpose.
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.
And so we lift our gaze, not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.
We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true.
That even as we grieved, we grew.
That even as we hurt, we hoped.
That even as we tired, we tried.
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious.
Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid.
If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made.
That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb, if only we dare.
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit.
It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation, rather than share it.
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth, in this faith we trust, for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.
This is the era of just redemption.
We feared at its inception.
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour.
But within it we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.
So, while once we asked, how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe, now we assert, how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be: a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free.
We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation, become the future.
Our blunders become their burdens.
But one thing is certain.
If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left.
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.
We will rise from the golden hills of the West.
We will rise from the windswept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution.
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states.
We will rise from the sun-baked South.
We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover.
And every known nook of our nation and every corner called our country, our people diverse and beautiful, will emerge battered and beautiful.
When day comes, we step out of the shade of flame and unafraid.
The new dawn balloons as we free it.
For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.

a moment of sound

After the inauguration, Scott and I took Delia out for a walk. It wasn’t too cold, but it was windy and blustery and slippery–and difficult to get a moment of sound. In this recording, you can hear the wind and Delia’s collar clanging and our feet walking over the crusty ice and snow.

jan 20, 2021

jan 19/BIKERUN

bike: 24 minutes
run: 1.4 miles
basement

A little more snow, a little more cold, even more slick and uneven surfaces. Decided to workout in the basement. Watched some swimming races while I biked, then listened to the latest “Maintenance Phase” podcast while I ran. This one was about “The Biggest Loser” and it was disturbing. What a terrible show. I must admit, that I watched at least one season of it, and while I thought it was very problematic, sadly I still watched and enjoyed it. Such incredibly damaging ideas about bodies and fitness and health and fatness that reinforce dangerous and awful understandings of how we might live in and with our bodies!

After I finished I came upstairs and recorded a moment of sound on the back deck. Nothing too interesting today: it’s cold (15 degrees) and windy and the last 20 seconds were unusable because I was moving in some strange way that generated an irritating scratching noise. If you listen closely, you can hear the crunching, creaking sound of some car wheels. It’s my neighbor driving through the alley, slowly trying to navigate the icy ruts. The whooshing sound you hear is not a plane or traffic, but the wind rushing through the tall trees (pine? spruce?) across the alley. I don’t think I hear any birds or spazzy kids or barking dogs.

jan 19, 2021

jan 17/BIKERUN

bike: 24 minutes
run: 1.3 miles
basement

Another day of icy sidewalks, so more working out in the basement. Will I be able to run outside tomorrow? I think so. If nothing else, I can do loops around Howe Elementary. When Scott and I took Delia the dog out for a walk this morning, I noticed that it was mostly clear there. It’s not as exciting as other routes, but still outside. Didn’t think about much while I was biking or running. Tried out a few spotify playlists, but didn’t really like any of them. Someday, I’ll put together my own playlist. Even though it wasn’t that exciting, it still felt good to move.

After I finished my run, I stood out on the deck and recorded my moment of sound. Very still and gray. The bare tree branches looked delightfully fuzzy and soft, almost like a smudge of gray. There’s at least one dog barking in the distance–one block over. Too bad the trio of spazzy dogs on that same block didn’t join in. What a cacophony of yelps and yips and ruffs they make! Sometimes I like walking Delia right by their house just to get them going.

jan 17, 2021

jan 16/BIKERUN

bike: 22 minutes
run: 1.3 miles
basement

This morning when Scott and I took Delia out for a walk it looked like the paths were clear–at least to me with my too quick glance–when we left the house, but we soon learned the sidewalk and street were ridiculously icy and uneven and dangerous. No falls for either of us, but lots of slips, and one square block took almost 15 minutes to walk. No outdoor running for me today. So, I biked and ran in the basement instead. Watched the first episode of the Netflix Fran Lebowitz documentary, “Pretend it’s a City.” I love her cranking about people’s obliviousness to others in the world, particularly in New York City, and I appreciate this concept of pretending it’s a city so that we train ourselves to be aware and care about how we’re moving in spaces with other people. After that, I listened to a playlist and ran for a little more than a mile on the treadmill. No insights or interesting thoughts today.

a moment of sound

Yes! Today, I captured the sound of the wind chimes across the street (about 35 seconds in). I love the sound of wind chimes. You can also hear a scraping, slamming noise throughtout as a neighbor across the street attempts to break up the thick, craggy sheet of ice on their sidewalk. Yuck, this slightly warmer but not that warm weather creates the worst sidewalk conditions. I would much rather have it be 0 outside (or even colder), but with clear paths. And–warning–the recording starts with the loud, shrill creaking sound of my front door opening and then the slam of the glass/screen door. I thought about editing it out because it’s so loud, but decided I liked it.

jan 16, 2021

Happy to report that, at least so far, no violent insurrections at the State Capitol or in my neighborhood today.

jan 12/BIKERUN

bike: 22 minutes
run: 1.25 miles
basement

In the basement this afternoon. A little sore from my run on the slushy, uneven snow yesterday. Watched some old races on YouTube as I biked, listened to a playlist as I ran. I recited Longfellow’s “Snow-flakes” in my head at least once. I am writing this entry the next morning because I didn’t have time to write it earlier, and I don’t remember much from the bike or the run. No insights or interesting images but, as always, it felt good to move and to sweat and to lose track of time.

Earlier in the day, Scott and I took Delia the dog on a walk. Warmish (34 degrees), with sun on our faces, then on our backs. We heard some black-capped chickadees and almost believed it was spring.

Even earlier than that, I sat on the deck, my eyes closed and the inside of my eyelids red from the warm sun, recording my moment of sound. Quiet, peaceful. I could almost block out the insistent drip…drip…drip of water coming off the gutter. I only worried a few times about whether or not the gutters were clogged. At the end of the moment, I walked over to the other side of the deck to listen to another series of drips–more clogged gutters! Also heard: birds, some very enthusiastic neighbors–maybe playing at the field at the elementary school?

jan 12, 2021

jan 10/BIKERUN

bike: 22 minutes
run: 2.1 miles
basement

It’s the weekend and since it looked crowded near the gorge when Scott and I took Delia out for a walk this morning, I decided to stay inside and bike and run on the treadmill. Watched some YouTube videos while I biked and then listened to a good playlist as I ran: The Man/Taylor Swift; Sunflower/Harry Styles; Midnight Sky/Miley Cyrus; You Should See Me in a Crowd/Billie Eilish; We Can’t Stop/Miley Cyrus; Tightrope/Janelle Monae. All good songs for staying distracted (or not being distracted?) while running. I still cringe at the lyrics of Miley’s “We Can’t Stop,” but the beat works for my cadence. At the end of my run, as I walked and got my heart rate down, I recorded myself reciting a snow poem I memorized earlier today: Snow-flakes/ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. What a beautiful poem!

Snow-flakes/ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Out of the bosom of the air,
Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,
Over the woodlands brown and bare,
Over the harvest-fields forsaken,
Silent, and soft, and slow,
Descends the snow.

Even as our cloudy fancies take
Suddenly shape in some divine expression,
Even as the troubled heart doth make
In the white countenance confession,
The troubled sky reveals
The grief it feels.

This is the poem of the air,
Slowly in silent syllables recorded.
This is the secret of despair,
Long in its cloudy bosom hoarded,
Now whispered and revealed
To wood and field.

Love the rhythm and the easy rhymes and the idea of snow as the poem of the air. I’m not as enthusiastic about his love of the word “bosom,” although it sings much better than boobs or chest.

Snow-flakes, Jan 10

Earlier today, after returning from my walk with Scott, I recorded a moment of sound on my front steps. I had hoped to capture the sound of the wind chimes we had heard as we walked, but I guess there wasn’t enough wind. Bummer. Not much to hear in this moment: some birds, faintly singing, some traffic one block over, a car rumbling by. It is very quiet on my block, which is nice.

a moment of sound, jan 10, 2021

jan 9/BIKERUN

bike: 20 minutes
run: 1.3 miles
basement

Watched a race while I biked. Ran with a playlist, then remembered a runner mentioning listening to “thunderstruck” while they ran and liking it, so I switched to that for my final minutes. Nice. AC/DC is fun to run to. Didn’t think about anything except that I breathe better when I’m working out. I also breathe better outside and in the winter, which I noticed (again) earlier today when Scott and I were walking Delia the dog. So bright with the white snow.

A nice relaxing day. Managed to stop myself from obsessively checking the news every few minutes. Sat on the couch and read Agatha Christie’s “The Secret Adversary” with the sleuthing duo, Tommy and Tuppence. Scott and I discovered their 1982 (or 83?) BBC show a week or so ago and we’ve been watching it almost every night. I like their dynamic and saying “Tuppence” as much as I can–maybe Tuppence and Bunty from Father Brown should team up for a show. Such strange names.

Went out on the deck for my moment of sound this afternoon. Managed to convince my 14 year old daughter to join me. Today’s sound is mostly the scampering of Delia the dog–her collar clanging as she shakes, her claws scratching the deck, her scampering paws. Delia loves leaping through the snow like a bunny.

jan 9, 2021

I’m already liking these moments of sound. The quality isn’t that great and maybe what I’m capturing isn’t that interesting, but the act of capturing a moment of sound outside and then listening back to it and writing about it is helping me develop (or reinforce) great habits–making sure I get outside and that I stop and stand still and listen are important/helpful things to do right now. Plus, it helped me to get my daughter outside to play in the snow for a few minutes–something she hardly ever does.

Discovered this afternoon that there’s an animation for an awesome poem by Marie Howe:

And here’s a poem I found the other day that I like:

I Refuse to Report Bugs to Their Creator/ BRAYAN SALINAS

During roll call
a black beetle
wanders to the sink,
near my toothbrush,
and I say,
“Poor thing,
I better let you go.”

                                 My father says,
                                 “You better smash that thing
                                 before it multiplies.”
                                 I think he says the
                                 same about me.

I lie awake at night
and think
about crunchy leaves
crushed in the autumn.

                                 My mother sees
                                 six red ants
                                 running around
                                 the loaf of bread
                                 anticipating their breakfast.
                                 She says to me,
                                 “Get those things off
                                 the table.”

My sister panics
at the sight of a spider.
She runs to the kitchen
and screams bloody murder.
I remind her,
“We don’t find
scary things
scary anymore.”

                                 My mother flicks
                                 the grasshopper off  her book.
                                 She asks how I am doing.
                                 I lie to her
                                 and say,
                                 “I’m doing quite all right,
                                 I smashed a bug
                                 with my shoe.
                                 We all do
                                 what we don’t want to do.”

I see a cockroach
on the ground.
“Gregor,” I whisper,
“you better run fast.”
He says to me,
“I only need to run faster
than you.”

jan 7/BIKERUN

bike: 22 minutes
run: 2.1 miles
basement

Yesterday, pro-Trump domestic terrorists invaded the US Capitol while Congress was in the midst of certifying Biden’s victory. Terrifying, terrible, but not surprising to anyone who has been paying attention for the last 4 years. Scott and I sat in front of the tv all afternoon and evening, watching it unfold in real time.

A bit sore today from running outside yesterday–and maybe sitting on the couch all afternoon? Decided to do some biking and a shorter run inside today. As I biked, I split my time between watching a documentary about Bob Fosse (I loved watching Cabaret as a kid; it must have been in heavy circulation on HBO which was the cable channel I watched the most in the 1980s) and checking CNN and the New York Times to see whether or not they had invoked the 25th amendment on Trump yet (as of 2:30, not yet). After biking, I put in my “Daily Mix 3” on Spotify. Discovered that Justin Bieber’s “Beauty and the Beat” with Nikki Minaj is a great song to run to–it came up second, right after “xanny” by Billie Eilish and right before Demi Lovato’s “Sorry, not Sorry”. Forgot about everything but making sure I didn’t fall of the treadmill. Nice.

After my workout in the basement, I went outside and recorded my moment of sound on my deck. I was particularly interested in capturing the scratching or clicking (it almost sounds like water dripping) of the strange objects hanging from my neighbor’s eaves. Listening back to the recording, you can’t hear it until 40 seconds in.

jan 7, 2021

My neighbor has three of these objects, hanging from the eaves at the top of the house. I remember when I first noticed them in the late summer. Very irritating. They’re metallic and they spin, catching the sun and flashing it onto our deck and through my daughter’s window upstairs. I had no idea what they were for, which made me even more annoyed. Then Scott suggested they might be for keeping the woodpecker, that had already pecked a huge hole in their siding, away. Yep, he’s right. They’re called scare rods and the flashing freaks birds out–I can see why. I can’t find a image of the exact ones they have, but here’s a picture of a similar one. The only difference: this one has diamonds, while theirs have rectangles.

The flashing is still irritating but I can live it, knowing what these are for. I’m glad the woodpecker won’t be pecking at their house anymore!

jan 2/BIKERUN

bike: 24 minutes
run: 1.5 miles
basement

Took a walk with Scott and Delia this morning. Cold. It always feel colder when I’m walking than when I’m running. Frozen fingers but no frozen face with my mask on. Nice. Heard some black-capped chickadees and crows and many other birds that I couldn’t identify. Also heard the dog that moans–the one that I heard this summer and told Scott about but that we’ve never been able to hear again until now. Yes! I wanted to record the sound but I found restarted–too cold? not enough charge? I was hoping to make that my moment of sound, but I couldn’t. Instead, I stood outside on my deck, a few minutes later, and recorded the neighborhood noises. A “chickadeedeedee,” a “caw caw”–I remember, but I can’t quite make it out on the recording, a feebee call at the end. Someone dropping down the lid of their garbage can. The low, steady hum of the city underneath it all.

jan 2, 2021

I am hoping to keep this habit up of recording about a minute of sound every day this month–or this year? I’m tagging them, a moment of sound

nov 22/BIKERUN

bike: 24 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 1.25 miles
treadmill, basement

Thursday evening, sitting on the floor with my legs stretched straight in front of me, not doing any sudden movements, just talking with my family, my kneecap slid out of its groove. I was able to slip it back in by walking up and down the stairs. It was slightly disconcerting but I wasn’t too unsettled. A few minutes later, sitting on the floor still not moving, it slipped out again. This time it didn’t want to pop back in on the steps so I had to push it back in place. No big injury, just a slightly swollen knee that I iced three times (R.I.C.E) on Friday. Still, it bothered me. It is very upsetting to not have any warning and not be doing anything dramatic–no sharp turns or sudden stops or strange stretches–and suddenly have your kneecap slide out of place. You worry, when will it happen again? Will I be walking somewhere and my kneecap will suddenly give out?

I took a break from running on Friday and yesterday I only biked in the basement. Today, I decided to try a mile. My knee–the right one–felt a little strange, but it was fine. I’m not sure if overuse causes something in the patellar femoral groove to get messed up which then leads to subluxations or if it’s entirely random. I’m betting on overuse, so I’m happy to take a few more days off each month. Oh the challenge of living in a wonderful yet fragile, faltering body!

I am almost done with my mood ring project. I’ve posted a few of the poems on my writing site and I’m currently working on a short piece about the process and my methods for crafting the poems. I am proud of my work–the work of experimenting, thinking through, researching and the finished product. Hopefully I can share it more widely with others.

nov 17/BIKERUN

bike: 20 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 1.15 miles
treadmill, basement

It wasn’t too cold or too icy but I decided to take a break from an outdoor run this morning. Took a slightly longer walk with Delia instead. It was sunny and calm with wonderfully cold air. I loved breathing in it as I walked Delia around several blocks. Ah, winter air!

I biked and briefly ran in the afternoon. Listened to a “You’re Wrong About” podcast on the electoral college as I biked, Taylor Swift as I ran. I was inspired to listen to Taylor Swift after encountering a great twitter thread on rhetorical devices in Swift’s lyrics. Very cool and useful. Might have to try out some of these devices.

I liked exercising in the afternoon. It helps me feel less sleepy. Maybe I should try it some more?

nov 14/BIKERUN

bike: 25 minutes
bike stand, basement
run: 2.4 miles

It wasn’t too cold, but it’s Saturday, which is more crowded, and it’s icy, which is more difficult when it’s crowded, so I decided to work out in the basement. Couldn’t find anything to watch while I biked so I started listening to a “You’re Wrong About” podcast episode. I need to find something like “Cheer” or “Selling Sunset” to watch. As I ran I listened to music. Tried to start with Schoolhouse Rock but I determined that multiplication rock is not that motivating when you’re running on a treadmill in the basement. Switched to my playlist and ran faster to “Eye of the Tiger” and “Black Wizard Wave.” Don’t remember thinking about much or noticing anything. I got lost in the steady striking of my feet. That’s cool.

This afternoon we (all five of us) took a drive. Near the end we drove on east river road, beside the path that I take for the ford loop. So beautiful with an amazing view! It makes me want to run this loop soon. I’m thinking I might stop at several of the overlooks. Maybe Monday?

Saw this poem on twitter. Oh, Marie Howe, I love you!

The Copper Beech/ MARIE HOWE

Immense, entirely itself, 
it wore that yard like a dress, 

with limbs low enough for me to enter it 
and climb the crooked ladder to where 

I could lean against the trunk and practice being alone. 

One day, I heard the sound before I saw it, rain fell 
darkening the sidewalk. 

Sitting close to the center, not very high in the branches, 
I heard it hitting the high leaves, and I was happy, 

watching it happen without it happening to me.

oct 21/RUN

2.1 miles
river road trail, south/42nd st/edmund, north
35 degrees

7.9 inches of heavy wet snow yesterday. I wasn’t excited about it but I also wasn’t upset. This morning, after shoveling the front sidewalk and the deck, I took Delia for a walk. Wonderful. No wind. Above freezing. Quiet, beautiful snow. Fresh cold air. We walked 2 slow blocks and I breathed deeply and realized that I love winter and being outside in this air, able to breathe without worry or panic. I felt calm, relaxed. Winter will help me get through all of this.

A few hours later, I went out for a short run. Running this winter will be more difficult. Narrower paths with no where to go when others are coming. I will have to start wearing a mask or my yak trax all the time and run in the snow. Or maybe I’ll just run earlier? The path was clear; they must have plowed it this morning. I don’t remember looking at the river or the snow. Did I? I had planned to recite the poem I memorized yesterday but I forgot. On my walk, I noticed a huge limb (or limbs?) of a tree bent down, leaning onto the street, barely hanging on. I forgot to check if it had fallen or been moved as I headed back from my run.

Today’s October Surprise

Yesterday’s snow decorated our backyard trees, leaving thick slabs of white on the limbs. It was especially pretty on the crabapple tree which is loaded to its very tips with tiny red apples that up until a few years ago, when RJP figured out what they actually are, we thought were cherries. The red, covered in white snow, made the entire tree glow pink. And not just to me with my limited color vision. I asked my son and he saw the pink too. Very cool.

sept 30/RUN

2.5 miles
two trails
59 degrees

For some dumb reason, I thought that running a bit later (almost noon) when it was very windy (20+ mph) would result in less crowded paths. I even thought the lower trail would be empty. I was very wrong. I probably encountered the most people I ever have today. I got much closer than 6 feet several times and had to call out “excuse me.” Oh well. If I ever consider running on the Winchell trail again, I will have to make sure and wear a mask the entire time. The river road trail was crowded too. I did a lot of weaving. I’m pretty sure I had a few ridiculous performances, weaving out into the road to avoid people, then quickly stopping to tie my shoe, then starting up again, trying to avoid having to pass the walker I had just passed again.

It was beautiful down there on the Winchell Trail, below the road, with so many leaves swirling around and glowing and painting the trees in reds, yellows, oranges. And, o the river! Such a bright blue in the sun. And no thick leaves to block my view!

a moment to remember

Turning down at the 44th street parking lot to run on the Winchell Trail, two bikers were walking their bikes up the hill, framed by a few bright yellow trees and the wide, blue river. Suddenly a gust of wind caught them by surprise and one of the women yelled out, “Whoop!” –or “whoa” or something like that. I think I like “whoop” the best. One day, maybe I’ll manage to fit this moment into a poem.

Speaking of poems, I finished my fourth mood ring poem: Loneliness. It’s the first of my poems about my darker moods. These are harder for me to write because my inclination is not to dwell in the bad feelings. I am wondering if it is too dramatic in its darkness? The poem is inspired by Ada Limón’s “Instructions on Not Giving Up” and uses her first two sentences as a guide. (“More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s almost obscene display of cherry blossoms shoving their cotton-candy colored limbs to the slate sky of Spring rains, it is the greening of the trees that really gets to me. When the shock of white and taffy, the world’s baubles and trinkets, leaves the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath, the leaves come.”

MOOD: LONELINESS

More than the distorted letters that shift on the page, more than the bikes that appear without warning, it is the faded faces that really get to me. When the light is too bright, or not quite the right kind of light, or not bright enough, the features leave. Sometimes the outline of a nose, a mouth, ears, freckles remain, but the eyes, almost always, are dead. Lifeless. Lacking a spark. The pupils looking like black ballbearings. Othertimes, all that’s there is a dark blob, perched on the shoulders of my son, my daughter, my husband, a friend I have known for years. Aiming my eyes at a shoulder, I might catch a quick flash of an iris through my periphery. Mostly I rely on memory and recall the face I used to see. Imagine the flare of a nostril, the raising of an eyebrow. Wish for the reassurance that I am not alone, that someone else is here. Alien and alienating, an uncanny valley begins to form between me and and the rest of the world.

I’m still trying to figure out how to incorporate the rings–my ring scotoma–into or onto the poem. In theory, I’d love to do some poems within poems, but I’m not sure if it works. I’ll keep playing around with it. Now it’s time to work on some other dark moods: frustration, fatigue, feeling useless and old. I can’t remember if I wrote about this the other day, but I am struck by a mood I don’t have: anger (or rage). I am not angry about my failing vision. Is this because I had been living with it for so long, not knowing what it was, or even that anything was actually wrong with me–I blamed a weak will for any problems I seemed to have–and I was overwhelmingly relieved to finally know what it was?

Almost forgot to mention, but how could I?

Judith C. Puotinen: March 5th, 1942- September 30th, 2009

11 years ago today my mom died.

june 29/RUN

2.5 miles
river road, south/north
69 degrees
humidity: 90%/ dew point: 70

Happy Birthday to me. Found out yesterday that I am one day younger than Derek Jeter; he turned 46 yesterday, I turned 46 today. Glad to be done with the number 45. Rained all morning so I had to wait to run until after noon–12:36 to be exact. Hot and humid and wet. I didn’t mind. Managed to catch a few glimpses of the river–at least, the blue of the river through the green leaves. It was very windy, which helped make the heat less oppressive. Do I remember anything else? Not sure if it was still raining a little or if I was just feeling drops from the trees.

Recited the latest poem I memorized: Turkey Vultures/ Ted Kooser:

Circling above us, their wingtips fanned
like fingers, it is as if they were smoothing

one of those tissue paper sewing patterns
over the pale blue fabric of the air,

touching the heavens with leisurely pleasure,
just a word or two called back and forth,

taking all the time n the world, even though
the sun was low and red in the west, and they

had fallen behind with their making of shrouds.

I love the line, “smoothing one of those tissue paper sewing patterns over the pale blue fabric of the air.” It reminds me of going with my mom to the fabric store, sitting in the chair at the slanted table, looking through pattern books–Vogue, Simplicity, Butterick–finding something I wanted her to sew for me, making note of the number and then finding the corresponding pattern in a big filing cabinet. I have never learned to sew but I will always remember how exciting it was to pick out patterns and then the fabric, and have my mom sew for me. In my early 20s I wanted to learn to sew. For my birthday that year, my mom gave me an elaborate sewing kit, with a how to sew book and several very nice scissors, needles, pins, a pin cushion, measuring tape, thread. I still have the kit and sometimes I use it, like earlier in the quarantine when I comically attempted to patch my son’s favorite pajama pants. I was amazed that I could thread the needle. How did I do that with my central vision almost gone?

In reciting this poem, I also thought about the word leisurely and how to pronounce it–with a short e or a long one? I prefer the long e–leeesurely.

june 1/RUN

3.7 miles
running, with lots of walking
austin, mn
83 degrees

Ran with Scott on his 9 year anniversary of running. Mine is tomorrow (I’m writing this a few days late; it was too hot to run on my anniversary date). To commemorate the day, we included the 1/2 mile stretch he had to run in high school. He hated doing it because he was out of shape and couldn’t run that far, and all the jocks in the class were assholes. Hot and sunny, but we did it. So much has happened since we started running 9 years ago. Wow.

march 3/RUN

3.25 miles
trestle turn around
39 degrees
clear path

Windy. Sunny. Not too cold. Ran in the early afternoon, since I voted in the morning. I loved running on the edge of the path, my feet landing on the grit, making a satisfying scratching sound. I think I looked at the river–did I? Now I can’t remember. I do remember noticing how the snow on the walking path that winds down through the tunnel of trees was melting. With all the warm weather this week–and 61! predicted for Sunday–maybe it will be cleared of snow soon. I also remember lifting my knees as I ran up from under the lake street bridge and noticing how the walking path at the top, which follows the rim of the gorge while the biking path follows the road, was clearing up too. Hooray! Anything else? I heard then saw a small wedge of geese flying north. Encountered a few runners, many walkers, at least one dog. It was a good run. I didn’t think about the coronavirus and the fear and worry and hassle it’s causing for so many people even once!

Before starting the run while I was still walking, I listened to a recording of myself reading 2 poems: 1. a draft of my latest poem, which I’m calling January Joy, and 2. a fabulous poem by Marie Howe, Singularity–I posted it on this log on Jan 19. I liked listening to both of them. I also liked recording myself reciting them. Maybe this will be a new thing I do with poems in 2020? Yesterday I recorded myself reading Love by Alex Dimtrov (posted on this log on jan 21)–over 11 minutes of lines starting with “I love…”! One of the I loves reminded me of Howe’s poem:

I love how the Universe is 95% dark matter and energy and somewhere in the rest of it there is us.

I read this line as loving the idea that we are such a small fraction of what makes up the Universe. I love this idea too–it’s comforting and liberating to me to matter so little. Most of Howe’s poem and the idea of singularity is a little different. It’s lamenting the loss of a time when we were not separate from the Universe, when there was no universe or we or I or us or anything to fuck up (which we have, as we trash the ocean and each other). She has one line that reminds me of Dimitrov’s and that resonates:

before we came to believe humans were so important

I find it’s easier to remember this–that I am not so important, or the most important–when I’m running outside by the gorge, above the Mississippi River, under the oak trees. I like remembering this. Here’s another line this discussion of not being important reminds me of:

You are nobody to the hills or the thick boughs heavy with greenery. You are no longer a role, or a status, not even an individual, but a body, a body that feels sharp stones on the paths, the caress of long grass and the freshness of the wind (Frédéric Gros/Philosophy of Walking, 84). 

And, of course, the minute I write nobody, I think of my introduction to Emily Dickinson:

I’m Nobody! Who are you? (260)/ Emily Dickinson – 1830-1886

I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too? 
Then there’s a pair of us! 
Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!

How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog – 
To tell one’s name – the livelong June – 
To an admiring Bog!

Wow, that was fun to wander around all of those words! As I was scrolling back through my January entries, I saw a lot of wonderful poems and ideas. More wandering around them is necessary.

Speaking of January, here’s a first draft of my January Joy poem. It’s a collection of things I enjoyed during the month of January for the past 4 years. I’m not quite satisfied with it. I want to find a better way to describe/express how thick slushy viscous water moves–how?

January Joy/ Sara Lynne Puotinen

Oh to see the river! 
The river, open 
The river, brown
The river, thinly veiled
The river, pale blue
The river, empty 
The river, white 
The river, a big black hole of deep, cold nothingness 
The river, a thick slow slush traveling to the falls
The falls, flowing between frozen columns of ice
The ice, cleared from the path
The path, no big crowd
The crowd, 2 cross country skiers  
3 men in red jackets gliding
1 woman floating–confident bodies moving through space
The space between sky and tree top, illuminated by sun
The sun glowing up the gray gloom
The sun warming my face 
The sun flashing through tall, thin tree trunks 
My trunk, straight strong steady more machine than gangly human

How wonderful it is to move!

Oh great runs! 
Oh clearer paths! 
Oh strong legs and adequate knees and functioning feet!
How wonderful it is to move and breathe and feel free 
on this winter-perfect day, white and woodsy and blueish gray!

march 2/RUN

5 miles
to stone arch bridge
39 degrees
50% puddle-covered

Was able to do another one-way run downtown. Love these runs! Watched my shadow running ahead of me. Looked down at my favorite part of the trail, above the floodplain forest. Still white with snow, but there was a dark path snaking through.

Thought about my current project and a line from a poem that I wrote down in my notebook today: “I love how athletes believe in the body and know it will fail them.” Last week, I typed up some notes about my project and wrote: “learn how to love an aging body that might (will?) one day betray me.” As I ran, I thought about how my workbook and much of this running project are really about learning how to endure (embrace?) growing old.

Also thought about the two dead bodies they’ve pulled out of the river here in the last week–one north of the Franklin bridge last Sunday, one right by the double bridge at 44th yesterday. Is it just a coincidence?

Almost forgot–just after turning left onto the river trail, right by the ravine, I heard a noise and I couldn’t tell if it was wind blowing through some dead leaves or water rushing out of the sewer below. I didn’t stop to check so I guess I’ll never know.

My favorite thing about the run today was the gravelly grit on the edge of the path. I loved the noise it made–the sh sh sh shuffling sound as I ran over it. And I loved how it felt–how my feet slipped and slid and glided over the sand.

The path was filled with puddles and some ice, which I had trouble seeing in the sun. Managed to avoid landing in any of the deeper ones. Didn’t manage to avoid getting my socks soaked.

Heard some geese. Lots of cars. The air was just right for amplifying and carrying the noises of traffic rumbling.

Saw some walkers and runners. Did I see any bikers?

feb 25/RUN

3.3 miles
ford bridge turn around
40 degrees

(Not sure about my dictation project. I don’t like doing the dictation inside and I’m already home. Maybe I should try it when it’s warmer outside?)

Another cycle of melting in the afternoon, re-freezing at night, frozen in the morning, melting in the afternoon. This sort of ice, just barely frozen, is the slickest and most dangerous. So I waited to run until after noon, when it had melted–12:13, to be exact (according to my apple watch). Had the wind at my back heading south, giving me a nice push. Kept thinking about how the wind would be in my face when I turned around. And it was, which made it harder. Noticed several new dips and cracks and holes in the path near 38th street. All the freezing and melting and re-freezing is hard on the asphalt. There was a deep puddle on the double-bridge, right where it bottoms out. Luckily I could climb on some snow to avoid it. Encountered a few walkers on the path. Saw an adult and a kid sitting on a bench, surrounded by snow. Heard, and briefly saw (I think) a runner below me on the Winchell trail. Noticed the river, open and flowing. The path right by the Ford bridge was terrible, almost completely covered in a thin, slick sheet of ice. When I turned around, I put in some headphones and listened to a new playlist. Heard, “Eye of the Tiger,” “Bad Guy,” “Juice,” “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution,” and “Let’s Go Crazy.”

Anything else I remember? I don’t remember hearing water gushing out of the sewer or kids at the school playground or music coming from a car or people talking loudly or geese honking or dogs barking. And I don’t remember having any deep thoughts or revelations. Did I?

Oh my god, this poem!

I want to read this book, and had requested it from the library, but I was unable to pick it up in time. I should request it again. I’m very glad that Our Poetica did a video of the text revealing itself as Diana Khoi Nguyen read it. So powerful!

Here’s another poem I found and copied into my green notebook on May 1st, 2019:

A Skull/ Dana Levin

is like a house
          with a brain inside. Another place
where eating
          and thinking
                     tango and spar—

At night
           you lean out, releasing
thought balloons.
           On the roof
                      someone stands ready

                      with a pin—

I’d like to put this poem and the idea of the skull as a house beside the two other poems with houses that I posted on feb 22.

feb 24/RUN

5.5 miles
franklin hill turn around
39 degrees
5% slick ice covered

Waited a little longer to go out running this morning. Needed to let the thin sheets of ice covering the puddles melt. A nice day for a run! Not too much wind, not too many people. Sun. Clear paths. I got my layers right today: 1 shirt, 1 vest, 1 pair of running tights, 1 headband, 1 pair of gloves, 1 pair of socks. It was warm enough today to smell the earth thawing–why does it smell like dog poop? I think I like the smell of death in the fall–the musty, mulching leaves–over the smell of life in the almost spring.

David Lee Roth is in town with KISS for a concert tonight. Scott read somewhere that he always brings his bike to Minneapolis and loves biking along the river. Today, I kept looking for him, hoping he’d bike by. No luck. Bummer.

Glanced down at the river a few times. Enjoyed hearing the sibilant sounds of my striking feet on the grit covered path. Ran hard up the hill, then stopped to a walk for a few minutes when I reached the bridge. Thought about the body that was found just north of this bridge early yesterday morning. Managed to mostly avoid the secret slippery spots where the water on the path was still frozen. Also managed to avoid getting soaked by cars rushing through big puddles on the road.

With less than a mile left, I had an idea about my current project and decided, even though I was running well, enjoying going faster, to stop and record my thoughts.

Uh oh.

Just tried to find and transcribe my voice memo, but it wasn’t there. I must have hit the wrong button when I was trying to record it. Here’s what I remember. For a few minutes before stopping, I was chanting. How to be/periphery, How to be/periphery. Then I realized: I need a (big) project to focus on, a project that involves structure and daily practice. A concrete project. This is the project I think I’m working on–and in many ways, it is what I’m working on–but, I’m also working on something else, off to the side, at the periphery, which is the real work I need/want to do. What a bummer. I feel like I can’t remember a key to my thought that helped it make sense. It connects with the article I read about how to be a procrastinator a few years ago, and with the idea of not approaching projects/thoughts/goals head on, but slant or sideways or sneakily (tricking your brain). Argh! I wish I hadn’t screwed up the recording.

My Weather/ Jane Hirshfield

Wakeful, sleepy, hungry, anxious,
restless, stunned, relieved.

Does a tree also?
A mountain?

A cup holds 
sugar, flour, three large rabbit-breaths of air.

I hold these.

What do I hold? Ever since I encountered the phrase, “inner and outer weather” (from a Frost poem about a tree at the window, via Edward Hirsch), I have been thinking about weather as metaphor for one’s mood/emotions/feelings. Love this poem and how it plays with this idea. And I love imagining how much air is 3 large rabbit-breaths worth. How big is this rabbit? And, in general, how big are rabbit breaths?

feb 8/RUN

3.5 miles
trestle turn around
15 degrees/feels like 5
100% clear

Ran a little later today because Scott and I had to take our daughter to the Mall of America this morning. After a month of begging us, we finally caved. That place is the opposite of the gorge. Tight, confined. Too many people moving too slow and too fast. Too bright. Too many big words everywhere. Too much consumption. Too many sickly sweet, overpowering smells. Energy zapping. Water sapping. Soul sucking. I’ve never really liked shopping but now that my vision is bad, it’s very difficult, especially at the mall. Draining. Today’s trip was one of the better ones. Probably because we only stayed for an hour. There was a moment, near the Rotunda. A dance performance, accompanied by a recording of some cheesy, sappy piano music (some popp-y thing that I should remember but can’t). Passing near the roller coaster, listening to the overly loud, overly sentimental music, watching Scott and my daughter walk ahead, I felt this dreamy, detached sense of joy. Why? Of course, after that happy moment, I had my most disturbing one in Pac Sun: a brand called John Galt is selling a Brave New World t-shirt. Wow.

Felt good to run this afternoon in the sun. Colder today so I wore more layers, including a buff, a hood, and a black cap. Too much. The path was clear and not too crowded with walkers or bikers or runners. Admired the river several times. My best view was about 30 seconds south of the trestle. High up on the bluff, the trees opened up and I had such an open, broad, beautiful view of the river and the floodplain forest and the east side of the river, which at this point, between lake and franklin, is in Minneapolis and not St. Paul. Can’t remember much else about the run. Felt tired at the end, but still sprinted up the final hill. Noticed a dog and its human hiking on the snow-packed path near the 2 fences and 2 walls that I’ve written about. Heard some kids. My feet shuffling on gravel. Some spring-y birds, trilling and chirping. Running out from under lake street bridge, I sensed the shadow of a runner up above on the bridge, traveling across the railing. A cool visual effect. Noticed my shadow ahead of me as I ran north. When I stopped briefly at the turn around, I noticed her hiking on the Winchell trail in the gorge below. Heard some geese, honking away. Couldn’t tell if they were hanging out under the bridge or flying above me in the air.

Thinking about uncertainty and bewilderment in poetry today. Yesterday I encountered–not the for the first time–Keat’s description of negative capabilities to his brother in a letter from 1917:

capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason

So many interesting parallels with my idea of staying in trouble as virtue–staying in a space of (somewhat) uncomfortable, unsettling unknowingness. It makes so much sense to me that I’m really getting into poetry. I like how poetry takes this space of trouble/unknowingness/uncertainty and infuses it with joy and wonder.

This poem! I love Maggie Smith.

Threshold/ Maggie Smith

You want a door you can be
            on both sides of at once.

                       You want to be
           on both sides of here

and there, now and then,
            together and—(what

                       did we call the life
            we would wish back?

The old life? The before?)
            alone. But any open

                       space may be
            a threshold, an arch

of entering and leaving.
            Crossing a field, wading

                       through nothing
            but timothy grass,

imagine yourself passing from
            and into. Passing through

                       doorway after
            doorway after doorway.

Love the line, “any open/space may be/a threshold, an arch/of entering and leaving.” For some time now, I’ve been thinking about the river road/running path as such a threshold, where threshold = beside/s space.

feb 5/RUN

3.3 miles
below ford bridge and back
33 degrees
100% clear path

Ran to the right and in the afternoon today. Straight into the wind which made it seem colder than 33 degrees. This winter I’m enjoying running this direction and checking out the oak savanna and the moment when it meets the river and the river looks like an enormous empty crater. Didn’t encounter too many people, mostly walkers. One or two runners. One biker. Noticed some super fat squirrels. Admired the curve of the retaining wall above the ravine. Wondered about a white path that led straight down to the river just after the double bridge. Heading back up the hill between locks and dam #1 and the double bridge, I heard the tornado siren doing its monthly test. I flinched both times it started. So loud! Saw my shadow. Also saw the shadow of some trees on the path. At first I thought it was dark ice but then realized, shadows! Spring is getting closer. The sky was an intense blue, especially through the lenses of my “dad sport” sunglasses–which is how my daughter describes them.

Anything else? Yes. Towards the end of my run I remembered to stand taller, straighten my back, and open up my chest to try and inhale as much of the beautiful blue-domed gorge as I could. What a day for a run! Walking back home, I felt the joy even more. Signs of spring: sun, shadows, melting snow, chirping birds, warmer air.

One more thing: as I ran, I tried to regulate my breathing. First, I counted to four. Then I chanted: I am running/by the river/I am running/into wind

I continue to work on my latest creative project, how to be. Had an idea about form today (an idea which I’ve had repeatedly but it never seems to stick): A book of exercises for building various qualities of character. Maybe, a narrative with background on my reasons for doing/creating the exercise + steps on how to do the exercise + an example of the exercise + a corresponding poem or fragments of poem/s.

Came across a few great lines about poetry from Basho this morning:

The secret of poetry lies in treading the middle path between the reality and the vacuity of the world.

Poetry is a fireplace in summer or a fan in winter

jan 26/BIKERUNBIKE

bike: 25 minutes
run: 2 miles
bike: 10 minutes
basement

It’s warm outside, hovering just below freezing, and the air feels great, but the path is an ice rink. Too icy to run outside today. Bummer. Started another episode of Cheer while biking in the basement. Wow, Monica the coach is hard core. She made one of the cheerleaders who had disobeyed her order to not cheer that weekend and then injured his back do practice anyway. It was hard to watch him grimacing and writhing and sobbing from pain. In an interview, Monica talked about how the kids need and want discipline and order in their lives, partly because they’ve never had it. I often think about this balance between the need for discipline, in the form of order and rules, and the negative effects of that disciplining–unquestioned obedience to those rule even when they might lead to permanent damage–like a seriously fucked up back and life long, agonizing pain. How do we navigate that? Can we have discipline without being disciplined? So much to say about what’s happening in this episode with discipline and civilized behavior and manners and looking respectable in the community and unquestionably following the rules of a coach! Maybe someday.

While I ran, I listened to a great audio book, The Changeling. Pretty intense. I am at the part of the novel where the protagonist, Apollo, is on an island of green-robed woman who are trying to kill him. Felt like I was in a trance, running at a steady, easy pace, staring blankly at the reflection of a light bulb in the window, listening to the author, Victor LaValle. Not as invigorating as being outside by the gorge, but still good to be moving.

jan 21/RUN

2.5 miles
river road, south/north
15 degrees/ feels like 0
50% snow-covered

14 mph wind straight in my face, running south. Wasn’t expecting it to feel so cold today, so I underdressed. No hat, only a bright pink headband that covered my ears. Felt sore and a little tired, but better after having spent some time outside by the gorge. The river was open and flowing. The path was mostly clear. Noticed at least 2 dogs and their humans walking the lower path–the one that I like to run in the summer. Encountered a few other runners, no skiers or bikers. No geese. One spazzy squirrel.

I love this poem. I love how listing what you love makes you want to love harder and more expansively, and so does reading someone else’s love list.

Love/ Alex Dimitrov

I love you early in the morning and it’s difficult to love you.

I love the January sky and knowing it will change although unlike us.

I love watching people read.

I love photo booths.

I love midnight.

I love writing letters and this is my letter. To the world that never wrote to me.

I love snow and briefly.

I love the first minutes in a warm room after stepping out of the cold.

I love my twenties and want them back every day.

I love time.

I love people.

I love people and my time away from them the most.

I love the part of my desk that’s darkened by my elbows.

I love feeling nothing but relief during the chorus of a song.

I love space.

I love every planet.

I love the big unknowns but need to know who called or wrote, who’s coming—if they want the same things I do, if they want much less.

I love not loving Valentine’s Day.

I love how February is the shortest month.

I love that Barack Obama was president.

I love the quick, charged time between two people smoking a cigarette outside a bar.

I love everyone on Friday night.

I love New York City.

I love New York City a lot.

I love that day in childhood when I thought I was someone else.

I love wondering how animals perceive our daily failures.

I love the lines in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof when Brick’s father says “Life is important. There’s nothing else to hold onto.”

I love Brick.

I love that we can fail at love and continue to live.

I love writing this and not knowing what I’ll love next.

I love looking at paintings and being reminded I am alive.

I love Turner’s paintings and the sublime.

I love the coming of spring even in the most withholding March.

I love skipping anything casual—“hi, how are you, it’s been forever”—and getting straight to the center of pain. Or happiness.

I love opening a window in a room.

I love the feeling of possibility by the end of the first cup of coffee.

I love hearing anyone listen to Nina Simone.

I love Nina Simone.

I love how we can choose our own families.

I love when no one knows where I am but feel terrified to be forgotten.

I love Saturdays.

I love that despite our mistakes this will end.

I love how people get on planes to New York and California.

I love the hour after rain and the beginning of the cruelest month.

I love imagining Weldon Kees on a secret island.

I love the beach on a cloudy day.

I love never being disappointed by chocolate.

I love that morning when I was twenty and had just met someone very important (though I didn’t know it) and I walked down an almost empty State Street because it was still early and not at all late—and of course I could change everything (though I also didn’t know it)—I could find anyone, go anywhere, I wasn’t sorry for who I was.

I love the impulse to change.

I love seeing what we do with what we can’t change.

I love the moon’s independent indifference.

I love walking the same streets as Warhol.

I love what losing something does but I don’t love losing it.

I love how the past shifts when there’s more.

I love kissing.

I love hailing a cab and going home alone.

I love being surprised by May although it happens every year.

I love closing down anything—a bar, restaurant, party—and that time between late night and dawn when one lamp goes on wherever you are and you know. You know what you know even if it’s hard to know it.

I love being a poet.

I love all poets.

I love Jim Morrison for saying, “I’d like to do a song or a piece of music that’s just a pure expression of joy, like a celebration of existence, like the coming of spring or the sun rising, just pure unbounded joy. I don’t think we’ve really done that yet.”

I love everything I haven’t done.

I love looking at someone without need or panic.

I love the quiet of the trees in a new city.

I love how the sky is connected to a part of us that understands something big and knows nothing about it too.

I love the minutes before you’re about to see someone you love.

I love any film that delays resolution.

I love being in a cemetery because judgment can’t live there.

I love being on a highway in June or anytime at all.

I love magic.

I love the zodiac.

I love all of my past lives.

I love that hour of the party when everyone’s settled into their discomfort and someone tells you something really important—in passing—because it’s too painful any other way.

I love the last moments before sleep.

I love the promise of summer.

I love going to the theater and seeing who we are.

I love glamour—shamelessly—and all glamour. Which is not needed to live but shows people love life. What else is it there for? Why not ask for more?

I love red shoes.

I love black leather.

I love the grotesque ways in which people eat ice cream—on sidewalks, alone—however they need it, whenever they feel free enough.

I love being in the middle of a novel.

I love how mostly everyone in Jane Austen is looking for love.

I love July and its slowness.

I love the idea of liberation and think about it all the time.

I love imagining a world without money.

I love imagining a life with enough money to write when I want.

I love standing in front of the ocean.

I love that sooner or later we forget even “the important things.”

I love how people write in the sand, on buildings, on paper. Their own bodies. Fogged mirrors. Texts they’ll draft but never send.

I love silence.

I love owning a velvet cape and not knowing how to cook.

I love that instant when an arc of light passes through a room and I’m reminded that everything really is moving.

I love August and its sadness.

I love Sunday for that too.

I love jumping in a pool and how somewhere on the way up your body relaxes and accepts the shock of the water.

I love Paris for being Paris.

I love Godard’s films.

I love anyplace that makes room for loneliness.

I love how the Universe is 95% dark matter and energy and somewhere in the rest of it there is us.

I love bookstores and the autonomy when I’m in one.

I love that despite my distrust in politics I am able to vote.

I love wherever my friends are.

I love voting though know art and not power is what changes human character.

I love what seems to me the discerning indifference of cats.

I love the often uncomplicated joy of dogs.

I love Robert Lax for living alone.

I love the extra glass of wine happening somewhere, right now.

I love schools and teachers.

I love September and how we see it as a way to begin.

I love knowledge. Even the fatal kind. Even the one without “use value.”

I love getting dressed more than getting undressed.

I love mystery.

I love lighting candles.

I love religious spaces though I’m sometimes lost there.

I love the sun for worshipping no one.

I love the sun for showing up every day.

I love the felt order after a morning of errands.

I love walking toward nowhere in particular and the short-lived chance of finding something new.

I love people who smile only when moved to.

I love that a day on Venus lasts longer than a year.

I love Whitman for writing, “the fever of doubtful news, the fitful events; / These come to me days and nights and go from me again, / But they are not the Me myself.”

I love October when the veil between worlds is thinnest.

I love how at any moment I could forgive someone from the past.

I love the wind and how we never see it.

I love the performed sincerity in pornography and wonder if its embarrassing transparency is worth adopting in other parts of life.

I love how magnified emotions are at airports.

I love dreams. Conscious and unconscious. Lived and not yet.

I love anyone who risks their life for their ideal one.

I love Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.

I love how people make art even in times of impossible pain.

I love all animals.

I love ghosts.

I love that we continue to invent meaning.

I love the blue hours between three and five when Plath wrote Ariel.

I love that despite having one body there are many ways to live.

I love November because I was born there.

I love people who teach children that most holidays are a product of capitalism and have little to do with love—which would never celebrate massacre—which would never care about money or greed.

I love people who’ve quit their jobs to be artists.

I love you for reading this as opposed to anything else.

I love the nostalgia of the future.

I love that the tallest mountain in our solar system is safe and on Mars.

I love dancing.

I love being in love with the wrong people.

I love that on November 23, 1920, Virginia Woolf wrote, “We have bitten off a large piece of life—but why not? Did I not make out a philosophy some time ago which comes to this—that one must always be on the move?”

I love how athletes believe in the body and know it will fail them.

I love dessert for breakfast.

I love all of the dead.

I love gardens.

I love holding my breath under water.

I love whoever it is untying our shoes.

I love that December is summer in Australia.

I love statues in a downpour.

I love how no matter where on the island, at any hour, there’s at least one lit square at the top or bottom of a building in Manhattan.

I love diners.

I love that the stars can’t be touched.

I love getting in a car and turning the keys just to hear music.

I love ritual.

I love chance too.

I love people who have quietly survived being misunderstood yet remain kids.

And yes, I love that Marilyn Monroe requested Judy Garland’s “Over the Rainbow” to be played at her funeral. And her casket was lined in champagne satin. And Lee Strasberg ended his eulogy by saying, “I cannot say goodbye. Marilyn never liked goodbyes, but in the peculiar way she had of turning things around so that they faced reality, I will say au revoir.”

I love the different ways we have of saying the same thing.

I love anyone who cannot say goodbye.

jan 1/BIKERUNBIKE

bike: 30 minutes
basement, bike stand
run: 1.25 miles
basement, treadmill

Decided to take it easy today, the first day of 2020. Yesterday my muscles took a beating on the rough path. Working out in the basement is never as inspiring or interesting as being outside but it does make me less restless and helped me fill my 3 rings for the 218th day.

Before and after my workout, continued working on my poetry line project. Managed to pick out lines from the 12 months of poems I gathered in 2019. Cut the list way down from 38 pages! to 14. Took out all the line breaks and cut it down even further to 6 pages. Then started crafting a cento from the lines. So much fun–even if this has been a very time consuming process. Rereading all the poems and picking out lines, then trying to arrange them in a new form has taken a few weeks at least. Here’s a first draft:

Listen/ Sara Lynne Puotinen

I.

The world is filled with music, and in between the music,
silence and varying the silence
all sorts of sounds coming into tune.

Knuckles of the rain on the roof,
chuckles into the drain-pipe,
spatters on the leaves that litter the grass,

gnats, frogs, dandelion pollen,
the pebbles & leaves & the whole
world of us, our names whispered
through an intercom in the evergreens,
our calls like an echo of lake, or what makes lake lake.

II.

I can hear a hum inside me,
an appliance left running.
I’ve started calling the hum the soul.
The soul sings at the top of her lungs,
laughs at her little jokes,
begins to kick up her heels,
jazz out her hands,
thrust out her hipbones,
and bellow forth—
like the thrashing of a lemon in the garbage disposal,
a clatter of jackhammers, an earful of leaf  blowers,
the hissing of trees so loud the air is stunned—
the chant, I’m great! I’m great!

III.

I’m not asking for much.
A white, indifferent morning sky.
Unsentimental sleet
A lamentation of geese
less hatred strutting the streets
to feel a little less, know a little more
enough jam jars to can this summer sky at night
a way out, the one dappled way, back
Paradise, all glam-glow, all twinkle and gold
The Meadows – mine –
The Mountains – mine –
All Forests – Stintless stars –
As much of noon, as I could take
gorged, engorging, and gorgeous

IV.

When sorrows come—fast, without warning—
whipping their wings down the sky,
stop seeking before or after life.
If anyone asks say
some of us don’t need hell to be good.

V.

Empty your mind
drift for a minute or an hour
blinking off old eyelids for a new way of seeing.
Remember this is not your land
You don’t get to be the grass
Grow wise with such teachings—
Bees in the lilac tree have something
to say and say it
without giving away the ending
the day knows exactly what it’s doing

VI.

What I love is one foot in front of another
Poets and walkers look up more
often than other people.
Go forth to the forests
Raise your heads, pals, look high,
see more than you ever thought possible
trees tossed like coins against the sky.
Stunned gold and bronze,
oaks, maples stand in twos and threes

dec 27/ RUN

3.5 miles
trestle turn around
29 degrees
0% snow-covered!

Back home in Minneapolis. Clear paths and sunshine. Feels harder to run in the afternoon today. Ran to the trestle with no headphones, returned with a playlist. Most memorable thing observed: a car honked its horn for at least 15 seconds when a slower car pulled out in front of it. What an asshole (the honker, not the honked-at). Don’t remember much else from the run other than I was tired–probably because I ran the final mile a minute faster than mile 2. Why? Not sure. I think I’m too tired to have any “brilliant” revelations about my run or life or the gorge.

A few nights ago, unable to sleep, I found a great book by a poet I happen to like a lot. So I checked it on my Libby app (this app is awesome): Theodore Roethke/ On Poetry and Craft

dec 25/ RUN

3.2 miles
Austin, MN
42 degrees

Ran in Austin with Scott this afternoon. Warmish. The streets were clear, the sidewalks had lots of puddles and ice and snow built up at the ends. We ran a mile, walked a minute, three times. Then walked another mile.

Observations

  1. Slick, wet pavement. Be-puddled sidewalks.
  2. Running over the crushed up, light brown gravel on the sidewalk where they had been doing sewer work
  3. Wonderfully tacky inflatable nativity scene in front of someone’s house
  4. Big stretches of bare ground–mud, green grass.

dec 9/RUN

2 miles
treadmill, basement

Was planning to run at the US Bank Stadium with Scott but ended staying home and running on the treadmill. Tomorrow it gets cold. 0 degrees. Not sure what the feels like temp will be. Guess I’ll see when I got out in it for a run.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers – (314)
BY EMILY DICKINSON

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

nov 29/BIKERUN

bike: 20 minutes
stand, basement

run: 1 mile
treadmill, basement

Icy sidewalks and waiting too long to decide to workout means I’m in the basement again today. Supposed to do a 10K tomorrow but we’re also supposed to get more snow and ice and lots of wind. Even if they don’t cancel it, Scott and I most likely won’t be doing it. Bummer.