bike: 25 minutes bike stand, basement run: 1.5 miles treadmill, basement
Wanted to watch more of The Ring and to not run too much so I worked out in the basement today. The Ring was still creepy–and fun to watch. Only a few scenes were too dark to see and it didn’t matter that I couldn’t read the words that were probably important; I’ve already seen this movie. Listened to my playlist while I ran. Got into a rhythm and felt like I was barely touching the belt. I’m getting used to running on the treadmill.
I was okay running inside because I had already gone for a walk earlier with Delia the dog. Brr. It felt cold outside. Walked around the neighborhood and finished the podcast I started yesterday with Victoria Chang. I’m looking forward to reading her book Obit. As I listened to her and the host Rachel Zucker discuss their grief over the loss of their mothers, my mind started wandering and I started thinking about my current project. I decided to record my thoughts:
So I’m thinking as I was walking–I’m thinking about how I’d like this workbook to kind of be some of the exercises I’ve already done and practiced (or am practicing) but also the ideas that I’ve put in that I’d like to try. Just make a list of all of those things and not worry so much about whether or not it can be done but whether I’d like to try it. The other thing I was thinking about was with listening to Victoria Chang about Obit and grief and thinking about how my mom’s death has changed me and how this project really comes out of that. Or does it come out of that? Where does it come from? Does it have a clear origin? Wanting to discuss what it’s origins are.
Speaking of Obit, here’s one of Chang’s poems from it. The book is a series of obituaries for all the things that died after her mom died. Such a powerful idea!
Memory—died August 3, 2015. The death was not sudden but slowly over a decade. I wonder if, when people die, they hear a bell. Or if they taste something sweet, or if they feel a knife cutting them in half, dragging through the flesh like sheet cake. The caretaker who witnessed my mother’s death quit. She holds the memory and images and now they are gone. For the rest of her life, the memories are hers. She said my mother couldn’t breathe, then took her last breath 20 seconds later. The way I have imagined a kiss with many men I have never kissed. My memory of my mother’s death can’t be a memory but is an imagination, each time the wind blows, leaves unfurl a little differently.
I woke up this morning thinking of the line about the knife dragging through flesh like sheet cake. Intense.
5 miles franklin hill turn around 32 degrees 20% snow and ice covered
Recorded my self on the voice memo app today a few hours after my run.
Here is the transcript:
Today I ran 5 miles. It was sunny and above freezing. It felt warm and there were puddles and barely ice patches on the path. I saw my shadow in front of me as I was running towards Franklin. I ran down the Franklin hill and then turned around and ran up until I got to the bridge. Then I stopped and walked for a couple of minutes. I encountered a lot of runners. I was able to greet Dave the Daily Walker. He was in short sleeves and no coat–of course. I saw some fat tires and a vee of geese at some point. The sky was blue. I didn’t notice any clouds. Around the time I started, the river all looked white to me but by the time I got to the Franklin bridge it was brown and open. I heard some kids down by the ravine, probably playing in the ice cave. I slipped several times on the ice but didn’t fall. I heard some crunching. I saw some salt stains on the path. I didn’t think about much. I remember counting to four. I remember feeling strong and relaxed and thinking I wasn’t going that fast, which was good, I was trying to go slow. And I don’t remember that much else about the run. I sprinted up the final hill and it was hard. But I thought that if I sprinted up this hill and I could do this and keep going when it was hard, that when I’m in a race, when I’m getting to the very end, if I can keep going and even pick it up and know that I will survive. Did I think about anything else? I don’t remember smelling much. I think there were a lot of cars. There were groups of walkers, usually in pairs, and sometimes that was frustrating to try and navigate that. I didn’t hear a train. I didn’t do any triple berry chants. I think I heard a woodpecker and I think I saw a bird up in the sky but I’m not sure. I don’t remember looking down to my favorite part of the path, looking down to the floodplain forest. I think that’s all I remember. It was a good run.
It is definitely harder to speak than to write. It feels like my details are a bit boring and I’m having trouble remembering quickly as I try to speak without out umms or ands. Will this get better, or is this a bad approach to remembering the details of my run? I’ll try it a few more times before I decide.
One other think I forgot to mention in my recording was all the runners I encountered running the Franklin hill. At least 5 or 6 seemed to doing hill work–running up it until reaching the bridge, then turning around and running back down it again. I would like to try this sometime. Maybe a slow, easy run to the hill, then a few times running up and down it–a goal for spring.
I thought of happiness, how it is woven Out of the silence in the empty house each day And how it is not sudden and it is not given But is creation itself like the growth of a tree. No one has seen it happen, but inside the bark Another circle is growing in the expanding ring. No one has heard the root go deeper in the dark, But the tree is lifted by this inward work And its plumes shine, and its leaves are glittering.
So happiness is woven out of the peace of hours And strikes its roots deep in the house alone: The old chest in the corner, cool waxed floors, White curtains softly and continually blown As the free air moves quietly about the room; A shelf of books, a table, and the white-washed wall— These are the dear familiar gods of home, And here the work of faith can best be done, The growing tree is green and musical.
For what is happiness but growth in peace, The timeless sense of time when furniture Has stood a life’s span in a single place, And as the air moves, so the old dreams stir The shining leaves of present happiness? No one has heard thought or listened to a mind, But where people have lived in inwardness The air is charged with blessing and does bless; Windows look out on mountains and the walls are kind.
Something about the idea of inwardness and the stable, single place of the thinking/deepening self as a house reminded me of another poem (Ash/ Tracy K. Smith) I heard last year on a podcast. These are very different poems, but I’d like to put them beside each other and think about them for a while.
I found the podcast with Smith’s poem–On Being with Krista Tippett–and read the transcript where Smith talks about the poem and how her understanding of it has been transformed by how others have read it:
I wrote that poem thinking about the body, thinking about what it means to be alive in this human form and how strange it is that it’s temporary, that we are not just the body, but something else. That’s the way I’ve read it the first many times that I read it, or, at least, what I heard myself saying. But there’s a lot of ambiguity in the poem, and so people have questions about it. Someone has told me it feels like a poem that, more than just being in the body, is about being a woman and that sense of vulnerability and also sheltering something. Then, because a lot of these poems in this book are thinking about nationhood and American history, I was really excited to hear it described as a poem that is about the country as a house, and taking us back even to Abraham Lincoln in the sense of “a house divided against itself.” I love that active readers can give you a good enough argument to re-hear and see what you’ve made yourself.
So many ways to think about the inner, inwardness, the self, the body.
bike: 12 minutes bike stand, basement run: 2.5 miles treadmill, basement
I’m recording this while I’m on the treadmill at the end of my workout down in the basement. I biked for about 12 minutes and then I ran 2 1/2 miles. It was warmer outside today but I couldn’t run any earlier and by the time I could it was starting to get cold and windy and there were lots of puddles on the ground so I decided to stay inside and do the treadmill in the basement. While I was biking I listened to Here I Am by Air Supply which really made me think of my sister Marji. I imagined singing it with her, like when we were kids or when we got really drunk at a minor league baseball game in Des Moines when I was 20. And it made me think of my best friend from high school, Jenny, and how we memorized the lyrics to Air Supply on the bus on some band trip. Then I got on the treadmill and I started listening to a random playlist and Carolina on my mind by James Taylor came on and it reminded me of living in North Carolina. I’m not sure if this actually happened or not but I have this memory of driving from the UP to North Carolina and listening to this song. I’m sure that didn’t happen but I have a really strong connection with it as a memory. Not much else happened. It was kind of a boring/not creative run but it felt really good to get moving fast.
note: I felt a lot more comfortable–and had a lot less errors/extra words–in my dictation recording today. Was it because I was moving? Maybe I should try to always do these while walking? I’m thinking of switching to the voice memo app because I would like a recording of my voice too. It will be a little more tedious having to transcribe myself but it also might be a good way to spend more time with my words and thoughts.
5.) Go to a bookstore. Go to the History Section. Close your eyes and randomly choose a book. Turn to page 108. Read that page and pull one word you like from it. Go to the Romance Section, repeat process. Then go to these other 7 sections and repeat process: Gardening, Religion, Biography, Children’s, Cookbooks, Law, Horror. After you’ve collected these 9 words sit in the store, even if you must sit on the floor, then write a poem which includes these 9 words. This poem must be immediate, and it must be written in the store where the 9 words were found on page 108 of 9 different books. I hope you show me your poem one day. Thank you ahead of time.
4.2 miles minnehaha falls and back 5 degrees/ feels like -5 10% snow and ice covered
Another dictation entry. I tried to more deliberate in my speaking today, but it’s still harder to speak these then to write them.
Ran south towards the Falls this morning. It is very cold. The path is clear, although there was some ice that was slippery. I paid attention to my favorite spot right after the Mesa curves down and opens up into the river. I noticed that the path was stained with salt. The river was mostly frozen over with a few gaps of open water. I ran towards the falls thinking that they would be completely frozen over by now but when I got to the park, I heard some water rushing and when I reach the falls, I noticed a bit of water falling over the edge. There were a few people there.
I don’t think I saw any other runners. The first person I encountered on my run was somebody on a fat tire and I remember thinking how cold they must be.
When I got to the Falls I stopped for a minute to take off my hood and to look at the water. Then I started again. I noticed as I was running that my shadow was right in front of me. So clear and sharp and fully present! Then I had a revelation: my shadow is who is writing my workbook. My shadow is talking to me and giving me advice on what to do. In my exercises, my shadow is the implied I and I am the you she’s talking to. Very exciting to figure this out.
On the run back, I was hot and sweating. I noticed how beautiful the ravine near the double bridge is at this time of year when all the leaves are off the trees and you can really see everything.
After I was done and had walked home, I took a recording right outside my front door of the birds. Speaking of birds, about 3 miles into my run, heading north, I heard a mourning dove crying out, sounding like the one in this recording:
Poetry charts the changes in language, but it never merely reproduces or recapitulates what it finds. The lyric poem defamiliarizes words, it wrenches them from familiar or habitual contexts, it puts a spell on them.
As the eighteenth-century English poet Christopher Smart put it, freely translating from Horace’s Art of Poetry:
It is exceedingly well To give a common word the spell To greet you as intirely new.
The lyric poem separates and uproots words from the daily flux and flow of living speech but it also delivers them back—spelled, changed, charmed—to the domain of other people
4.2 miles trestle turn around plus extra 5° feels like 4 below 50% snow and ice covered
A only slightly edited transcript of my notes about the run, dictated into my notes app on my phone.
A lot of slippery spots. Very sunny this morning. It felt really cold. About a mile in greeted Dave the daily walker. Almost yelled out to him, “it’s cold today!” He is hard-core–no coat again but some gloves. Running right before I got to the trestle I heard a beep beep beep beep beep beep beep sound. I wondered if it was the train and then after I crossed under the trestle and was still heading towards downtown, I heard the rumbling of a train. It lasted a long time. I thought about turning around and running back so I could see the train but I decided against it because I wanted to keep going north. I listened to the rumble and I couldn’t quite tell if it was coming from Saint Paul over to Minneapolis or from Minneapolis over to Saint Paul. I experimented with chanting in threes when I turned around and headed south again. Uppercut/ bowling ball/ sweaty brow Then I started chanting in triple berries: raspberry/ blueberry/ red berry/ green berry pink berry/ orange berry/ blueberry/ raspberry/ gooseberry/ mulberry I chanted them over and over again to try and keep a steady rhythm. I saw a couple other runners, a few walkers. I thought I heard some kids yelling in the gorge but then I realized it was geese honking.
thoughts about dictating running notes
Not sure if I like the notes app for this. It was a bit awkward and I think (at least I hope) it added in some random words.
I write much better than I speak.
I need to stop feeling so self conscious doing this. I also need to be more deliberate and thoughtful in what I say.
I still have to add in periods and capitals, which is irritating.
This is a good exercise for me. I need to get used to doing something that someday might be necessary.
I have this notion that if you live long enough,
there are three or four great stories that you will have in your life.
A story of a journey or a transformation.
A story of love, which will likely mean the loss of love, a story
of loss. And a story of spiritual illumination,
which, for many, will probably be the moment of death itself,
the story untellable, its beginning and middle
and end collapsing with its teller into a disappearing conclusion.
I have believed long enough in my notion
to know that it is a romantic notion, that it erodes each time
I realize that the shard and not the whole
comprises a life, the image and not the narrative. Otherwise,
there’s no reason why all I remember of the airplane
I took as a child from one country to another
is the moist towelette packet we were given with our meal,
the wonder and absurdity of it. Or that, in love,
high in a tree in the dark, and high, he and I sat in the rain-damp
branches and ate 7-Eleven donuts. Or this, this piece
of a story that isn’t even mine, that isn’t even a story
but a glance of an experience, of the friend who held the stray
dog after it was struck by a car. Not knowing whether the dog
was dead, my friend called a friend
who worked for a vet. Poke the dog in the eye, this friend said.
Because if the animal no longer has a blink reflex,
it probably means the animal is dead. Decades after
college, when you could do such a thing, I typed his name
into a search engine to find out what became of the 18-year-old
boy from the tree. Like dozens of old keys
in a drawer, so many of the wrong people with the right name.
The child dead from leukemia, with a school gym
named for him. The wrestler who had a perfectly square jaw,
like a cartoon police detective in a fedora.
When I arrived at a page that was certainly
about him, I no longer knew the face, but I recognized the life
that he had had. He had transferred to
another college, gone to film school, and become a producer
of TV documentaries. A film about fishermen, the harsh fishing
season in Alaska. A film about Abraham Lincoln
and a film about the last days of Adolf Hitler. A film about the Sherpas who go up and down the Himalayas.
What a beautiful poem. I love the title and the way the stories/fragments are woven together and the sweet, soft rhyme of “and high, he and I” and the playing with the romantic notion that we each only have 3 or 4 great stories.
4 miles trestle turn around 33° 85% clear 15% ice covered
Note: Today, I’m trying something new. Usually I type up these log entries directly into wordpress. Today I tried dictating the entry into my notes app, then editing it slightly. It was difficult to speak my thoughts, partly because I felt self-conscious with other people in the house and partly because I find it easier to write my thoughts. But I need to learn how to do this because looking at a computer screen is getting more difficult and more tiring on my eyes. Maybe I’ll always be able to use the computer and see the letters, but I’d like to experiment with different ways to speak and write and think that don’t rely on vision. I was thinking of trying this dictation method for a month–maybe even trying to dictate the notes directly after my run, at the gorge.
This entry was slightly edited, with extra words and redundant phrases taken out.
The wind was coming from the south which meant that as I was running north it was at my back. Much easier running towards the trestle. I knew that it would be hard on the way back and it was. It was slightly sunny but not super sunny and at one point I saw my shadow. Not clear like it usually was; it looked more like a ghost, faint. I heard some kids down in the gorge. Probably by the ravine, maybe hiking around the exposed sewer pipe or the ice cave that is created in the winter by the seeps and the dripping water. Felt fast running north. I didn’t feel the wind at my back but knew that it was easier. Encountered a few runners, some walkers. One walker, an older white man, wore a fluorescent yellow vest. I saw him twice. I heard the grit under my feet. I don’t think I heard any geese but I did hear some crows cawing as I started. The river was partly frozen over but mostly open and it looked beautiful and still and desolate. The run back was difficult, the wind right in my face. I sprinted up the final hill and felt very tired and hot and sweaty. Overdressed. I chanted triplets. I started with Sycamore Cottonwood one lone Oak but that didn’t do it for me so then I chanted Gooseberry Mulberry raspberry raspberry mulberry goose berry raspberry blueberry blackberry raspberry blueberry blackberry and that helped me keep a steady pace.
lateral malleolus = all a sell out realm
On Saturday, I slightly rolled my ankle as I was moving down from the walking to the biking path. It is a little sore, but not painful. I am pretty sure it will be fine but I’ve been reading up on the ankle and foot to prepare myself. New fact/word: the bony knob on the outside of your ankle is called the medial malleolus. The knob on the inside is called the lateral malleolus. Tried turning lateral malleolus into an anagram. The first phrase that I could come up with that sort of made sense: All a sell out realm